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Know the Laws: Oklahoma

UPDATED October 15, 2012

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WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area. Go to the OK Where to Find Help page to find help.

Guns and POs

back to topI have a protective order ("PO") against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?

No. According to Federal law, if you have a PO that was issued by an Oklahoma civil court against your abuser (and meets federal requirements), s/he cannot have a gun in his possession, or buy a new gun.*

In order for your PO order to qualify under Federal law, the defendant (person who the PO is against) must:

  • Be served (given) notice of the court hearing. In other words, the defendant must have been given 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 with whom you share a child
    • A person you live with or have lived with in the past.
Note: If your VPO order has expired, it is no longer a valid order under Federal law, which means the firearm ban also does not apply. In addition, OK State Law says that a person subject to a VPO order cannot have a gun for up to three (3) years from the date the order is issued, or sixty (60) days from the date the order is canceled.** The VPO expiration date should be written in a box in the middle of the first page of your VPO order.

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

* 18 USC § 922(g)(8)
** Title 21, Oklahoma Statutes, Section 1290.11(A)(8)
*** 18 USC Sec. 925(a)(1)

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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 PO?

While it does not need to be written on your PO that your abuser cannot own, buy or have a gun in order for the law to be enforced, it may make it easier if it is written. Oklahoma state law specifically says that a person who has a PO against him/her cannot have a license to own or buy a gun, which means that s/he cannot buy a new gun or keep the one s/he already has. However, sometimes it is not always clear to law enforcement officials that the abuser's gun should be taken away when the PO is issued. There are a couple steps you can take to try to help make this clear:

  1. 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).
  2. Ask the judge to specifically write in your PO that the abuser cannot own, buy or have a gun while the PO is in effect.
  3. Before leaving the courthouse, check to make sure that the gun restriction is written on your PO.

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 your abuser cannot keep his guns while the PO is in effect, you may also want to ask that the judge:

  • Require the abuser to give his 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.
  • 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 topMy abuser did not show up for the PO hearing. Can his/her gun still be taken away?

Maybe. Your 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 about the order, then the federal firearm law might not apply to your abuser.** * United States v. Bunnell 106 F. Supp. 2d 60 (D. Me. 2000), aff'd 280 F. 3d 46 (1st Cir. 2002.).
** United States v. Spruill 292 F. 3d 207 (5th Cir. 2002.)

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back to topI have an emergency ex-parte protection order against the abuser. Do I have to wait until I receive a final PO before the abuser's gun is taken away?

Maybe. If the judge gave you an ex parte temporary order of protection (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 order of protection, 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 final order of protection against the abuser. Can his/her gun be taken away? in the Federal Gun Laws section to find out more.

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