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Know the Laws: Kentucky

UPDATED September 21, 2017

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Below is information about state gun laws in Kentucky.  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.

WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a domestic violence advocate or lawyer in your community for more information on gun laws in your state. To find an agency, please go to the KY Where to Find Help page to find help.

Guns and Domestic Violence Orders

back to topI have an emergency protective order against the abuser. Can s/he have a gun?

Possibly not.  Although the law doesn't specifically address the situation where a person is applying for a license to carry a concealed firearm while there is an emergency protective order against him/her,* the law does address the situation where someone already has a license to carry and then an emergency protective order is issued against him/her.  If the abuser already has a license to carry concealed firearms and you get an emergency protective order (or a domestic violence order) against him/her, s/he has to surrender that license to the court or to the law enforcement officer who serves him/her with the order.  In addition, the license will be suspended until the order is terminated (or until the judge who issued the order terminates the suspension of the license before the order ends).**  The failure of a license holder to surrender his/her license is considered a Class A misdemeanor crime.***

Note: If the abuser is a peace officer and an emergency protective order (or domestic violence order) is issued against him/her, s/he cannot carry a concealed deadly weapon while off-duty but s/he can use it while on duty.**  

* See generally KRS § 237.110
** KRS § 237.110(13)(k) 
*** KRS § 237.110(13)(i)

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

Probably not.  Under Kentucky state law, a person will be denied a license to carry concealed firearms, ammunition, or other deadly weapons if or if s/he already has a license to carry, it will be suspended or revoked if s/he has a domestic violence order issued against him/her and all of the following are true:

  1. it was issued after notice and a hearing;
  2. the order restrains him/her from:
    • harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner (or the partner's child); or
    • engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner (or the partner's child); and
  3. it includes a finding that s/he represents a credible threat to the physical safety of an intimate partner (or the partner's child) or it specifically prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against an intimate partner (or the partner's child) that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury.*

If the abuser already has a license to carry concealed firearms and you get a domestic violence order (or an emergency protective order) against him/her, s/he has to surrender that license to the court or to the law enforcement officer who serves him/her with the order.  The license will then be suspended until the order is terminated (or until the judge who issued the order terminates the suspension of the license before the order ends).**  The failure of a license holder to surrender his/her license if any of the above conditions apply is considered a Class A misdemeanor crime.***

Note: If the abuser is a peace officer and an emergency protective order or domestic violence order is issued against him/her, s/he cannot carry a concealed deadly weapon while off-duty (but s/he can use it while on duty).**  

Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser's right to have a gun if you have a final domestic violence order against him/her that meets certain requirements.  Go to the Federal Gun Laws page to get more information.

*1 KRS § 237.110(4),(13)(a),(b); 18 USC § 922(g),(n)
** KRS § 237.110(13)(k) 
*** KRS § 237.110(13)(i)

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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 domestic violence order?

Here are a few things that may help:

  • If the abuser has a gun, tell the judge how many guns s/he has, and if s/he has ever threatened you with a gun(s);
  • Ask the judge to specifically write in your domestic violence order that the abuser cannot own, buy or have a gun while the order is in effect. The form that you will have to fill out to petition for an order will have a place where you can request additional protections. You can ask that the abuser’s gun(s) be taken away in that section. 
  • 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 domestic violence 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;
  • Make it clear to both you and the abuser how long the guns will be kept away from the abuser; and
  • Order that the police notify you when the guns are returned to the abuser.

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