I have a protection from abuse (PFA) order against the abuser. Can s/he have a gun?
Alabama state law does not make it automatically illegal for the respondent on a PFA to have a firearm. Also, the law does not specifically list firearm prohibition as a protection that the judge can include in a PFA. If you are able to convince the judge to include a term in your restraining order (PFA) specifically stating that the abuser cannot have a gun, then Alabama police could enforce this term of the protection order. However, federal laws, which apply to all states and territories, do restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun if you have a final restraining order against him/her that meets certain requirements. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.
Is there anything I can do to make it more likely that the abuser's gun is taken away when I get a PFA?
Here are some things that may help:
- If the abuser has a gun, tell the judge how many gun(s) s/he has, and if s/he has ever threatened you with a gun(s).
- Ask the judge to specifically write in your PFA order that the abuser cannot buy or have a gun while the PFA order is in effect.
- Before leaving the courthouse, check to make sure that the gun restriction is written on your PFA 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. If the judge agrees to add language that the abuser cannot keep his/her guns while the PFA order 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.1
1Americans for Gun Safety; “Domestic Violence and Guns: A Guide to Laws that can Remove Guns from a Domestic Abuser.” Note: This organization is now called Third Way, and no longer publishes this article on their site.
I have an emergency/ ex parte order against the abuser. Do I have to wait until I receive a permanent order before my abuser's gun is taken away?
Maybe. If the judge does not write on the emergency/ ex parte order that the defendant (the abuser) cannot have a gun, most likely it is legal for the abuser to have a gun. Remember to ask the judge to include this firearm prohibition when you return to court for the permanent PFA.
However, even if the judge does NOT write that the abuser cannot have a gun on the final order, it may still be illegal for him to have a gun under federal law. Go to I have a final order of protection against the abuser. Can his/her gun be taken away? to learn more.