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Know the Laws: Alaska

UPDATED September 14, 2017

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Below is information about state gun laws in Alaska.  A restraining order or criminal conviction may make it illegal for an abuser to have a gun. However, in addition to these state-specific laws, there are also federal gun laws that could apply. To fully understand all of the legal protections available, it is important that you also read the Federal Gun Laws pages.

Please consider getting in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area. To find help, please click on the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.

Basic Info

back to topWhat is the difference between federal and state gun laws?

In these gun laws pages, we refer to both "federal gun laws" and "state gun laws."  The major difference between the two has to do with who makes the law, who prosecutes someone who violates the law, and what the penalty is for breaking the law.

One reason why it is important for you to know that there are these two sets of gun laws is so that you can understand all of the possible ways that the abuser might be breaking the law, and you can better protect yourself.  Throughout this section, we will be referring mostly to state laws.  Be sure to also read our Federal Gun Laws pages to see if any federal laws apply to your situation as well.  You will need to read both state and federal laws to see which ones, if any, the abuser might be violating.

If you are calling the police because you believe the abuser has violated a gun law, you do not necessarily need to be able to tell the police which law was violated (state versus federal) but local police cannot arrest someone for violating federal law, only for violating state/local laws.  Only federal law enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”), can arrest someone for violating federal laws.  If the local police believe that a state law is being violated, they could arrest the abuser and hand the case over to the state prosecutor. If the local police believe a federal law is being violated, hopefully, the police department will notify the ATF or perhaps the U.S. Attorney’s office in your state (which is the federal prosecutor).  For information on how you can contact ATF directly to report the violation of federal gun laws, go to Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun? If the abuser is breaking both state and federal laws, s/he might be prosecuted in both state and federal court.

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back to topI am a victim of domestic violence and the abuser has a gun. Do I have legal options for getting the gun away from him/her?

Yes. If you have a final protective order against the abuser that meets certain requirements, or if the abuser has been convicted of a felony, then federal law states that it is illegal for the abuser to buy, own or have a gun in his/her possession.*

In addition, Alaska state law says that if a person used (or had in his/her possession) a deadly weapon while committing a crime involving domestic violence, the judge should order that the gun be taken away and given to the commissioner of public safety or a law enforcement agency.**

If you are not sure if the abuser has been convicted of a crime involving domestic violence, see What is the legal definition of domestic violence?

* Note: Although federal law also prohibits owning or buying a gun if the abuser is convicted of a "domestic violence misdemeanor," none of Alaska's domestic violence misdemeanors have the 'intentional' element that is required under current case law to meet the federal definition. Therefore, a conviction for a domestic violence misdemeanor in Alaska may not make it illegal for an abuser to own or buy a gun under federal law. See United States v. Nobriga, 474 F.3d 561 (9th Cir. Ct App., 2006); see also 18 USC § 922(g)(8) & (9).
** Alaska Statute § 12.55.015(f)

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back to topIf the abuser's gun is taken away, what will happen to it?

If the abuser has been convicted of a crime involving domestic violence and the court orders the gun to be given to a law enforcement agency, the gun will most likely be destroyed or resold.  It should not be returned to the abuser.*

If you have a protective order against the abuser, and s/he has not been convicted of a crime, the gun will most likely be stored until the protective order expires, or until the court orders that the gun be returned.

* See Alaska Statute § 12.55.015(f)

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WomensLaw.org thanks Susan S. McClean with the Alaska Department of Law for her valuable contribution to these pages as well as Christine Pate, Pro Bono Project Director, and Andrea Browning, former Legal Advocacy Project Coordinator, at the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault for their revisions.  

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