I have a temporary ex parte protective order against the abuser. Can the abuser have a gun?
New Hampshire state law allows a judge to order the abuser to give up any guns or deadly weapons that s/he has while the temporary (ex parte) order is in place.1 The judge can also prohibit the abuser from buying a gun while the temporary order is in place and may even issue a warrant to have the abuser’s home searched if there is reason to believe that the guns have not been given up.2 It will be up to a judge to decide if any of these orders are necessary for your safety.
1 RSA § 173-B:4(1)(a)(9)
2 RSA § 173-B:4(II)
I have a final protective order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?
New Hampshire state law requires a judge to order the abuser to give up any guns or deadly weapons if the judge finds that the abuser has committed an act of abuse against the victim and issues a protective order.1 The abuser cannot have or purchase any firearms or ammunition while the order is in place. The judge also has the power to issue a search warrant authorizing a peace officer to take (seize) any weapons, firearms and ammunition, if there is probable cause to believe that the defendant didn’t hand them over as ordered.2
Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict a person’s right to have a gun under certain circumstances. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.
1 RSA § 173-B:5(I)(a)
2 RSA § 173-B:5(II)
Is there anything I can do to make it more likely that the abuser's gun is taken away when I get a protective order?
While it does not need to be written on your protective order that the abuser cannot buy or have a gun in order for the federal law to be enforced, it may make it easier if it is written. There are a couple steps you can take to try to help make this clear:
- If the abuser has a gun, be sure to make a request on your petition for an order of protection that his/her gun(s) be taken away and held while your order of protection is in effect. You can write this request under the “Other” section of what you ask the judge to do. You may also want to write how many guns the abuser has and if s/he has ever threatened you with a gun(s).
- Ask the judge to specifically write in your protective order that the abuser cannot buy or have a gun while the order is in effect. There will most likely be a box that the judge can check off.
- Before leaving the courthouse, check to make sure that the gun restriction is written (or checked) 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, and a time frame in which the guns must be turned over. If the judge agrees to add language that the 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/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;
- order that the police notify you when the guns are returned to the abuser.