Update, October 16: The pro-gun amendment on Wednesday was removed from the domestic violence bill, and is now being debated attached to a bill about metal theft.
Republican legislators in Pennsylvania are trying to add an anti-gun control amendment to a bill designed to protect victims of domestic violence.
HB 1796, introduced in October 2013, would protect domestic violence victims from eviction after they call police on their abusers. Many cities in Pennsylvania, as well as in states across the country, have adopted “nuisance ordinances”—laws that give landlords the power to evict disruptive households, with no exception for domestic violence victims.
Landlords and police are using the ordinances to evict victims of domestic violence who have called 9-1-1 multiple times for help, as Rewire reported last summer.
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The legislation introduced in Pennsylvania prohibits municipal ordinances from penalizing residents for calling the cops when they need help.
The bill passed the state house unanimously this year, but this week lawmakers said that Republicans would be adding anti-gun control language to the bill and push for a quick vote. The language being added comes directly from the failed HB 1243, which would have discouraged cities from passing gun control measures by giving legal standing to people and membership organizations like the National Rifle Association (NRA) to sue any municipality for having gun laws that are more stringent that the state’s.
Though no update has been given on the bill, Philadelphia magazine reported that Republican lawmakers are planning to add the amendment Wednesday and then quickly call it to a vote.
In 2011, almost 60 percent of domestic violence victim deaths involved guns, according to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which tracks fatalities. More than half of women homicide victims nationwide were shot and killed with a gun, and access to a gun increases the risk of death from intimate partner violence, according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
The gun amendment is not the only language to be added to the bill. Senate Republicans in March added language to the bill that would prohibit cities from passing laws requiring employers to provide some forms of leave to employees, including to victims of domestic violence.
“Leave from employment is often critical to a domestic violence victim’s survival in both the short and long term,” the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence wrote in a statement responding to the leave amendment. “When victims of domestic violence have access to resources that help them build financial stability–including policies like paid sick and safe days–they and their families are much more likely to remain safe and secure.”