If the abuser's gun is taken away, what will happen to it?
Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?
If you think the abuser is violating state firearm laws, you can call your local police or sheriff department or the State Police. If you think the abuser is violating federal firearm laws, you can call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our Maine Sheriff Departments page.
You can find ATF field offices in Maine on the ATF website. For reporting illegal firearm activity, a person can also call 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867). Many ATF offices have victim advocates on staff (called “victim/witness coordinators”) and so perhaps you may ask to speak one of these advocates if you are having a hard time connecting with (or receiving a call back from) an ATF officer.
A local domestic violence organization in your area may also be able to answer your questions and assist you in talking to the necessary law enforcement officials. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our Maine Advocates and Shelters page.
Note: Generally, the abuser does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for breaking the law. If the abuser has or buys a gun in violation of the law, the abuser can be arrested, whether or not s/he knows that s/he was in violation of the law.1
1U.S. v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); U.S. v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999)
¿Qué pasará si el agresor intenta comprar un arma?
Antes de comprar un arma de fuego de un/a vendedor/a licenciado/a, todos los/las compradores/as deben someterse a un chequeo de antecedentes penales realizado por el Sistema Nacional de Chequeo Instantáneo de Antecedentes Penales (“National Instant Criminal Background Check System,” o “NICS” por sus siglas en inglés). El Sistema Nacional de Chequeo Instantáneo de Antecedentes Penales es utilizado por los/as licenciatarios/as federales de armas de fuego (“FFLs,” por sus siglas en inglés) para determinar de forma instantánea si alguien es elegible para recibir explosivos o armas de fuego.1 Si el/la agresor/a tiene una orden de protección calificada en su contra o, si ha sido sentenciado/a por un delito grave o un delito menos grave por violencia doméstica intrafamiliar en cualquier estado, esos registros deben estar en el NICS, lo cual debería imposibilitarle a el/la agresor/a comprar un arma de fuego. No todos los estados tienen un sistema automatizado de registro, lo que dificulta el proceso de verificación de antecedentes penales, por lo tanto, algunos criminales y agresores/as logran burlar el sistema. También es importante saber que no se necesita una verificación de antecedentes penales para ventas privadas y a través del Internet.
Si el/la agresor/a pudo comprar un arma y usted entiende que él/ella no debe tener una legalmente, usted puede avisarle a la policía y pedir que le quiten el arma y quizás ellos/as lo/a investigarán. Generalmente no es buena idea asumir que porque el/la agresor/a pudo comprar un arma, es legal que la tenga.
What is the penalty for violating state firearm laws?
If the abuser has a gun while any of the following apply, s/he is committing a Class C crime, which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison:
1. after being convicted as an adult of or found “not criminally responsible by reason of insanity” of any of the following crimes:
- domestic violence assault;
- domestic violence criminal threatening;
- domestic violence terrorizing;
- domestic violence stalking;
- domestic violence reckless conduct;
- a crime committed in another state that is similar to any of the domestic violence crimes listed above;
- a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of one year or more; or
- any crime committed while using a firearm or other dangerous weapon in Maine, in another state, or in the Passamaquoddy Tribe or Penobscot Nation;1 or
2. as a juvenile, s/he was found to have engaged in conduct that would have been considered any of the above-mentioned crimes if s/he committed the act as an adult. If it was “a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of one year or more,” the prohibition only applies if, while committing the act, s/he caused bodily injury to another person or bodily injury was threatened.2
If the abuser has a gun while any of the following apply, s/he is committing a Class D crime, which is punishable by up to 1 year in prison:
- there is a protection order against him/her that was issued after notice and a hearing in Maine or in any other state, U.S. territory, commonwealth or tribe, which does both of the following:
- orders the abuser to not:
- harass, stalk, or threaten an intimate partner or a child of his/her intimate partner; or
- act in a way that would place the intimate partner in reasonable fear or bodily injury to himself/herself or to his/her child; and
- includes a determination that s/he represents a credible threat to the physical safety of an intimate partner or child; or
- specifically prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against an intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury;3
- orders the abuser to not:
- s/he was involuntarily committed to a hospital because s/he was found to present a likelihood of causing serious harm;
- s/he was found to be “not criminally responsible by reason of insanity” for any crime;
- s/he was found to be “not competent to stand trial” for any crime;
- s/he is a fugitive from justice;
- s/he illegally uses, or is addicted to, any controlled substance and as a result cannot possess a firearm under federal law (18 USC § 922(g)(3));
- s/he is illegally in the U.S. or was admitted under a nonimmigrant visa and who is prohibited from possession of a firearm under federal law (18 USC § 922(g)(5));
- s/he was a U.S. citizen and gave up (renounced) his/her citizenship; or
- s/he has been dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces.4
After a certain amount of time passes, a person who was convicted of a crime could regain the right to get a firearm permit. See “If the abuser is prohibited from getting a firearm permit due to a criminal conviction, does the prohibition expire after a certain amount of time?” for more information.
1 ME ST T. 15 § 393(1)(1-A), (1-B); 17-A § 1604(1)
2 ME ST T. 15 § 393(1)(C)
3 ME ST T. 15 § 393(1)(D)
4 ME ST T. 15 § 393(1)(E) – (J)