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Legal Information: Federal

Federal Gun Laws

February 25, 2016

I have a final order of protection against the abuser. Can his/her gun be taken away?

If the order meets certain requirements, it is illegal for the abuser to buy, own, or have a gun in his/her possession during the period of time that you have a final order of protection.  The requirements are:

  1. the order is issued after a hearing;
  2. the abuser has to be given notice of the hearing and an opportunity to attend (whether or not s/he actually attends doesn’t matter); and
  3. the abuser must be either your current or former spouse, a person with whom who you have a child in common, or a person with whom you live or have lived in the past;* and
  4. the order of protection must contain specific legal language:
    • it has to forbid the respondent from harassing, stalking, threatening, or behaving in any way that causes the petitioner to fear physical injury for herself or his/her child; and
      • either state that the abuser represents a threat to the physical safety of the petitioner or his/her child; or
      • specifically prohibit the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the petitioner or his/her child.** 

To find out if your order qualifies, you can call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit at 1-800-903-0111 ext. 2.  You can also read the exact wording of the law [18 USC § 922(g)(8)] on our Federal Statutes page.  The order of protection does not need to say that the abuser cannot have a gun for the federal law to apply.

Note: This federal law prohibiting someone from having a firearm while there is an order of protection against him/her may not apply to law enforcement officials, military personnel, and other government employees who use guns while performing official duties*** unless the judge specifically includes a firearm prohibition relating to the abuser’s work as a term in the order of protection.  If the abuser is a police officer, member of the military, or someone else who uses a gun for his/her job, talk to your local domestic violence program about your options.  See Advocates and Shelters to find a program in your area or National Organizations to find a national program.

* 18 USC § 921(a)(32)
** 18 USC § 922(g)(8)
*** 18 USC § 925