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Know the Laws: Wyoming

UPDATED December 23, 2016

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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 WY Where to Find Help page to find legal assistance or a domestic violence advocate in your area.

Guns and Protective Orders

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

It depends.  If your order of protection specifically says that the abuser cannot have a gun or buy a new gun, then s/he cannot have a gun.  In order for your order of protection to qualify under federal law, the defendant (the person who is the order 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 s/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 order of protection 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 at the bottom of page two on your order of protection.

Note: This law may not apply to law enforcement officials, military personnel, and other government employees who use guns while performing official duties.**  If the 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 WY Where to Find Help to find a program in your area.

* 18 USC 921(a)(32)
** 18 USC Sec. 925(a)(1)

** 18 USC Sec. 925 (a)(1)

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back to topIf the abuser is not an "intimate partner" according to the federal definition, can the abuser's gun still be taken away when I get an order of protection?

Yes.  If the abuser is not an "intimate partner" according to the federal definition, you can still ask the judge to include a provision in your order that forbids your abuser to have, own or buy a gun.*  In Wyoming, you can receive an order of protection against your adult children, any adult you live with (related or unrelated), or anyone you currently date or have dated in the past, so you don’t have to be married to or living with the abuser in order to ask that the abuser’s guns be taken away.**

There is a box on the temporary protection order which allows the judge to order that the abuser cannot have or buy a gun.

On the final protection order form, there is no specific box, but the judge can write in a firearm restriction in the space that is provided under “Other Provisions” on the second page.

* WY ST § 35-21-105
** WY ST § 35-21-102

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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 an order of protection?

While it does not need to be written on your order of protection that your abuser cannot own, buy or have a gun in order for the federal law to be enforced, it may make it easier if it is written.  Wyoming state law does not specifically say that a person who has an order of protection against him/her cannot own or buy a gun, which means it is not always clear to law enforcement officials that the abuser's gun should be taken away when the order of protection is issued.  However, there are a couple steps you can take to help make this clear:

  1. If the abuser has a gun, tell the judge how many guns he has, and if he has ever threatened you with a gun(s).
  2. Ask the judge to specifically write in your order of protection that the abuser cannot own, buy or have a gun while the order is in effect.
  3. Before leaving the courthouse, check to make sure that the gun restriction is written on your order (or checked, in the case of temporary orders).

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 order of protection 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." (Americans for Gun Safety; "Domestic Violence and Guns: A Guide to Laws that can Remove Guns from a Domestic Abuser."  Available: http://www.americansforgunsafety.com)

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back to topThe abuser did not show up for the order of protection hearing. Can his/her gun 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 about the order of protection, then the federal firearm law might not apply to the 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 ex parte temporary order against the abuser. Do I have to wait until I receive a final order before the abuser's gun is taken away?

Maybe.  You can ask the judge to write in your temporary order that your abuser cannot have a gun while you are waiting for a full court hearing.  There is a box for the judge to check on the temporary order form.  If the judge sees the abuser's firearm as a serious enough threat, the judge might decide to write this in.

However, if there is no specific mention of a firearm restriction in the temporary order, then you may have to wait until you are given a final order.

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