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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.

Guns and Protective Orders

back to topI have a temporary protective order against the abuser. Do I have to wait until I receive a long term, final order before his/her gun is taken away?

Maybe.  Alaska state law does not allow the judge to order the removal of the respondent's guns as part of a temporary protective order.*  However, it may be illegal under federal law.  If the judge gave you an ex parte temporary protective order (which means that no advance notice was given to the abuser), which is commonly done, it could still be LEGAL for him/her to have a gun under federal law.  However, if the judge scheduled a court hearing and gave notice of the hearing to the abuser before giving you the temporary protective order, it is possible that it is ILLEGAL for him/her to have a gun under federal law.**  The order of protection must also meet certain other requirements, though. Read I have a long-term, final protective order against my abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun? to find out more.

While waiting for the court to issue you a permanent order, you can take steps to keep yourself safe. Please see our Staying Safe page for information on keeping safe, especially in rural areas.

* Alaska Statute § 18.66.110(a); § 18.66.100(c)(6)
** 18 USC § 922(g)(8)

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back to topI have a long-term, final protective order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?

It depends.  Under Alaska State Law, the judge can order the abuser to turn in his/her guns and can take away his/her right to have a gun license.*  However, even if the judge did not remove the abuser's gun and gun license, federal law (which covers all states) may make it illegal for the abuser to buy or have a gun.

In order for your final protective order to qualify under federal law, the abuser must:

  • Be served (given) notice of the court hearing. In other words, the defendant must have been given the legal paperwork that told him or her about the hearing.
  • Have an opportunity to attend the court hearing. (Note: The abuser does not have to be at the hearing, but he has to have the opportunity to come to the hearing.)
  • Be an "intimate partner" of the victim, which includes:
    • A current or former spouse,
    • A person who you have a child in common with, or
    • A person you live with or have lived with in the past.*1
Also, under federal law, the protective order must:
  • Order the abuser not to "harass, stalk, or threaten you or your child," or not to "engage in other conduct that would place you or your child in reasonable fear of bodily injury;" AND
  • Include a finding that the abuser represents a believable threat to your physical safety or the physical safety of your child; OR
  • Say that the abuser cannot use, try to use or threaten to use physical force against you or your child that could be expected to result in physical injury.*2
If your protective order has expired, it is no longer a valid order under federal law, which means the firearm ban also does not apply. The expiration date should be written on page two of your protective order.

Note: This law may not apply to law enforcement officials, military personnel, and other government employees who use guns while performing official duties.*4  If the abuser is a police officer, member of the military, or someone else who uses a gun for his job, talk to your local domestic violence program about your options. See AK State and Local Programs to find a program in your area.

* Alaska Statute § 18.66.100(c)(6)
*1 18 USC § 921(a)(32)
*2 18 USC § 922(g)(8)
*3 18 USC § 925

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back to topIs there anything I can do to make it more likely that the abuser's gun is taken away when I get a protective order?

It does not need to be written on your protective order (PO) that the abuser cannot buy or have a gun in order for the federal law to be enforced but it may make it easier to enforce if it is written. Some state court judges might be unfamiliar with the federal law, or might believe that it is not their job to enforce the federal firearm law. However, there are a couple of steps you can take to help make this clear:

  1. If the abuser has a gun, tell the judge how many guns s/he has, and if he has ever threatened you with a gun(s) or used a gun against you.
  2. Check the boxes on your petition for a protective order that request that the judge order the abuser to not use or have a firearm, and to surrender any firearms he has in his possession. To see a copy of the petition form, please go to our AK Download Court Forms page.
  3. Ask the judge specifically to order that the abuser cannot have or buy guns while the protective order is in effect.
  4. Before leaving the courthouse, check to make sure that the gun restriction is written on your order.
It also may be helpful if the judge explains what will happen to the abuser's guns, who will take them, and where they will be held once you leave the courthouse. If the judge agrees to add language that the abuser cannot keep his/her guns while the order is in effect, you may also want to ask that the judge:
  • Require the abuser to give his/her guns to the police, or require the police to go to the abuser's house and get them.
  • Include in your order a "writ of assistance," which is an order that directs the police to assist you in having the abuser's gun(s) confiscated.
  • Make it clear to both you and the abuser how long the guns will be kept away from the abuser.
  • Order that the police notify you when the guns are returned to the abuser.*
* Americans for Gun Safety; "Domestic Violence and Guns: A Guide to Laws that can Remove Guns from a Domestic Abuser."

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back to topThe abuser did not show up for the protective order hearing. Can his/her guns still be taken away?

Maybe. The abuser does not have to come to the hearing in order for the law to apply to him/her, but s/he does have to be given notice of the hearing and an opportunity to attend.*

If no hearing is scheduled, and/or no notice is given to the abuser about the court hearing, then the federal firearm law might not apply to the abuser.**

* 18 USC §922 (g)(8); See, for example, United States v. Bunnell, 106 F. Supp. 2d 60 (D. Me. 2000), aff'd 280 F. 3d 46 (1st Cir. 2002)
** See, for example, United States v. Spruill, 292 F. 3d 207 (5th Cir. 2002)

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back to topI have a stalking or sexual assault protective order. Can the abuser have or buy a gun?

It depends. The federal firearm statute may apply in this case depending on the terms of your order.  See I have a long-term, final protective order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun? for more information on what requirements a protective order has to meet.

You may want to contact a local domestic violence or sexual assault program in your area or an attorney for more information. For links to shelter and advocates in your area, please see our AK State and Local Programs page.

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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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