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Know the Laws: California

UPDATED January 2, 2017

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Below is information about state gun laws in California.  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 in your area, please go to the CA Where to Find Help page.

 

Guns and Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (DVROs)

back to topI have a DVRO against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?

No.  California state law says that if you have a DVRO against the abuser, s/he cannot have a gun in his/her possession, or buy a new gun while the order is in effect.*  This applies to ex parte (temporary) orders as well as orders issued after notice and a hearing.**  However, there is an exception to this law if the abuser uses a firearm for his/her job.  See The abuser uses a gun for his/her job. Do the state gun laws still apply? for more information.

Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser's right to have a gun if you have a final protection order against him/her that meets certain requirements even if the judge does not specifically include on the order that s/he cannot have a gun.  Go to the Federal Gun Laws page to get more information.

* Cal. Fam. Code § 6389(a)
** Cal. Fam. Code §§ 6218; 6389(a)

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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 DVRO?

If you file for and receive a DVRO, it should be clear to the abuser and to law enforcement that the abuser’s gun needs to be taken away.  When you file for a DVRO, the abuser has to be notified.  California state law says that on all forms that give notice to the abuser that a protective order has been requested or granted, it must include this language: "The respondent shall be ordered to relinquish possession or control of any firearms and not to purchase or receive or attempt to purchase or receive any firearms for a period not to exceed the duration of the restraining order."*  Basically, this means that the abuser has to give up any guns that s/he has and s/he cannot buy or get any guns while you have an order against him/her.

Additionally, there is a place on the fourth page of your DV-100 (“Request for Order”) form where you can tell the judge whether the abuser has a gun and if s/he has ever threatened you with it.**  It may be a good idea to check this box if you believe the abuser has a gun so that the judge is aware of the guns.

* Cal. Fam. Code § 6389(b)
** See Cal. Fam. Code § 6389(c)(3)

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

Yes.  California state law says that the ban on guns that is written into the notice that is served upon an abuser when you apply for a DVRO -- the gun ban can apply to ex parte (temporary) orders as well as orders issued after notice and a hearing.*  Therefore, if the abuser was provided with the legal forms that notify him/her of the fact that you applied for the DVRO and that a hearing is scheduled, the gun ban should still apply to him/her.

* Ann.Cal.Fam.Code §§ 6389(a); 6218

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back to topI have a temporary ex parte restraining order against the abuser. Do I have to wait until I receive a permanent order before the abuser's gun is taken away?

No. In CA, the abuser cannot have or buy a gun once s/he has been served with a temporary ex parte order.*  You will see this stated in items #10-11 on page two of your DV-110 (“Temporary Restraining Order and Notice of Hearing”) form.

* Ann.Cal.Fam.Code §§ 6218; 6389(a)

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