Gun License for Domestic Violence Victims 'Dangerous,' Group Says

By Kate Monaghan | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

( - Legislation pending in Pennsylvania seeks to provide victims of domestic violence with a temporary emergency license to carry a firearm "to make sure that they're able to defend themselves," according to State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, sponsor of the bill.

However, a spokeswoman for a state domestic violence coalition called the measure "dangerous, absolutely dangerous."

Metcalfe (R-Butler) told Cybercast News Service that not only would this measure aid domestic violence victims in protecting themselves, but overall, it would decrease violence.

"Giving that person [the victim] the ability to protect themselves is going to ultimately be a great help to preventing violence," he said.

"Under House Bill 2946, any individual who can demonstrate evidence of imminent danger to themselves or a member of their family would be entitled to a temporary emergency license to carry a firearm after passing a computerized background check of criminal history, juvenile delinquency and mental health records," Metcalfe noted.

"The temporary license would be good for 90 days to allow sufficient time to apply for a regular license to carry a firearm and undergo the potential 45-day waiting period under current state law," Metcalfe's office said in a press release.

According to Metcalfe, this legislation would also protect witnesses to crimes.

"[For] the emergency carry permit, I think the majority of people applying for it would be people that would be applying for it because they have sought out protection from abuse or that they potentially may be a witness to a crime in which the criminal is out on bail making threats against that potential witness," said Metcalfe.

"My legislation is based on one very simple concept: Lives are saved when law-abiding citizens are provided with every means necessary to defend themselves against violent criminals," Metcalfe added.

Judy Yupcavage of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) disagreed, saying research does not support Metcalfe's position.

"All of the national research we've seen and all of the data points to the fact that it is not safer to be armed for self-defense," said Yupcavage, director of communications at PCADV.

Yupcavage also cited the possible danger of providing a weapon to a victim who may not be in a proper state of mind to bear that responsibility.

"It's a very volatile time, [it's] a firearm in the hands of someone who has no training on how to use it, and there are no requirements that you be skilled in, or proficient in, the use of firearms," she noted.

"To even attempt to expedite the process to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon is foolhardy," added Yupcavage. "Particularly victims of domestic violence -- we just don't support it. It's dangerous, absolutely dangerous."

Furthermore, Yupcavage worries that guns do not mean greater protection, but rather more deaths.

"With guns, there is such a greater propensity to not just kill one person, but to kill numerous people," Yupcavage said. "The ease of killing more people is there. It's just much easier to pull a trigger, and whoever's in the way gets caught in the crossfire."

Metcalfe sees not only a direct connection between protecting oneself with a firearm and the prevention of domestic abuse, but also a link to national security.

Self-defense "is one of the deterrents that terrorists have to have," said Metcalfe. "They must be cognizant of that potential defense that an American citizen can provide for themselves and their families, as a terrorist does seek to do harm to our American citizens."

This aspect reflects part of a broader legislative package concerning illegal immigration reform called "National Security Begins at Home."

"For law-abiding American citizens who are able to use their right to bear arms, I think it [right to carry legislation] is a deterrent, and ultimately, it is a defense against a national security problem that we see in terrorism," Metcalfe said.

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