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 MN Sheriff Departments page.
You can find ATF field offices in Minnesota 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 MN 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
1United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999)
If the abuser's gun(s) is taken away, what will happen to it?
If the judge orders that the abuser’s firearms be removed in your final order for protection for the reasons explained in I am a victim of domestic violence and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal?, there are two ways that the firearms can be taken away. First, if the judge believes that there is evidence that the abuser poses an immediate risk of causing you or another person substantial bodily harm, the judge must order the local law enforcement agency to take immediate possession of all firearms in the abuser’s possession.1 If the judge does not believe there is an immediate risk, the abuser will have three business days to transfer the firearms to a federally licensed firearms dealer, a law enforcement agency, or a third party who may lawfully receive them, as long as the third party does not live with the abuser.2 The third party may be held criminally and civilly responsible if the abuser is able to access the firearms while they are in the custody of the third party. Then, the abuser must file proof of the transfer with the court within two business days of the transfer.3
If the abuser’s guns are taken away after the abuser is arrested for a crime, the judge may order as a condition of his/her release that the abuser surrender all firearms to the local police department or other law enforcement agency. The agency will inventory the gun(s) and will store them until such time that the abuser can get them back under the law. For example, if the abuser is acquitted, charges are dismissed, or if no charges are filed, the firearms will be returned. If the abuser is convicted of a crime, whether or not the firearms will ever be returned will depend on the crime.4
1 MN Statutes § 518B.01(6)(i)
2 MN Statutes § 518B.01(6)(g)
3 MN Statutes § 518B.01(6)(h)
4 MN Statutes § 629.715(2)
What is the penalty for violating state firearm laws?
Any person who is arrested for having a gun even though they are restricted under Nebraska firearms laws is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.1 A gross misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $3,000 and up to one year in jail, or both.2
Someone who is under 18 years of age and unlawfully possesses a pistol or a semiautomatic military style assault weapon is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and up to five years in prison, or both.1
Any person who was convicted of a “crime of violence” as defined in MN Statutes § 624.712(5), either as an adult or as a juvenile, either in Minnesota or similar crimes in another state is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of up to $30,000 and up to 15 years in prison, or both.1
Also, under Minnesota law, a person violates an order for protection while possessing a dangerous weapon is guilty of a felony and can be punished by jail time of up to five years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.3
1 MN Statutes § 624.713(2)
2 MN Statutes § 609.02 (4)
3 MN Statutes § 518B.01(14)(d)(2)
¿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.