I have a protection order against the abuser. Can s/he have a gun?
Under Colorado law, the judge can include gun prohibitions in a temporary or final domestic violence protection order. If the judge reviews the protection order petition and decides that the protection order includes an act of domestic violence involving physical force or the threat or attempt to use physical force, the judge must then order the abuser to:
- not have or buy any firearms or ammunition while the order is in effect; and
- give up (relinquish) any firearms or ammunition that s/he currently has in his/her possession or control to a licensed firearms dealer, private party, or law enforcement.1
The judge can also order the abuser to give up any firearms or ammunition in his/her immediate possession or control as a condition for the abuser to be released from jail on bond.2
Once the abuser is served with the protection order, s/he has to follow what the order says and give up any guns or ammunition s/he has while the order is in effect. If the abuser has a gun or ammunition while the order is in effect, s/he would be committing the crime of violation of a protection order.3
For information about how the abuser must give up his/her guns and how the judge makes sure s/he has done so, see How does an abuser give up his/her guns and ammunition? What happens next?
Additionally, an abuser who has an active protection order against him/her for any reason cannot get a permit to carry a concealed handgun. This includes someone who has:
- a temporary or final civil protection order issued against him/her based on domestic violence or based on stalking, sexual assault, physical harm/threats or abuse of the elderly/at-risk adult;
- a protection order issued against him/her as part of a criminal court case, including a protection order based on a juvenile delinquent act; or
- a temporary or final extreme risk protection order issued against him/her.4
To see all of the conditions someone must meet to get a concealed carry permit, go to I am a victim of domestic violence and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal?
Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun if s/he was convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor or if you have a final protection order against him/her that meets certain requirements. Go to the Federal Gun Laws page to get more information.
For additional information on gun laws in Colorado, you can go to the Giffords Law Center website.
1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-105.5(1)(a)
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-105.5(1)(b)
3 Colo. Rev. Stat.§ 18-6-803.5
4 Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-12-203(1); 18-12-108
How does an abuser give up his/her guns and ammunition? What happens next?
If the abuser is in the courtroom when a judge orders the abuser to give up his/her guns and ammunition, s/he will have 24 hours to give up the guns and ammunition. If the abuser is not in the courtroom when the order is issued, s/he will have 48 hours to give them up. Both time frames do not count legal holidays and weekends.1
After the judge orders the abuser to give up his/her guns and ammunition, the abuser may do so by:
- selling or transferring the firearms to a federally-licensed firearms dealer;
- storing them with a law enforcement agency; or
- selling or transferring them to a person who can legally possess firearms or ammunition.2
The judge must also schedule a compliance hearing within eight to twelve business days to make sure that the abuser did, in fact, give up the firearms. The respondent will be notified of the hearing date and s/he is supposed to appear at the hearing in person. If the judge determines that there is “probable cause” to believe the respondent has failed to give up his/her firearms, the judge will issue a search warrant so that law enforcement can search the respondent’s home for the firearms and take them.3
You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website.
1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-105.5(2)(a)
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-105.5(2)(a)(II)(c)
3 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-105.5(1)(c), (5)(a), (5)(e)
Is there anything I can do to make it more likely that the abuser's gun is taken away when I get a protection order?
Here are a few things that may help:
- If the abuser has a gun, tell the judge how many guns s/he 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 own, buy or have a gun while the order is in effect. The form that you will have to fill out to petition for a protective order will have a place where you can request additional protections. You can ask that the abuser’s gun(s) be taken away in that section; and
- Before leaving the courthouse, check to make sure that the gun restriction is written 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. If the judge agrees to add language that the abuser cannot keep his/her guns while the protective 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; and
- Order that the police notify you when the guns are returned to the abuser.
The abuser did not show up for the protection order hearing. Can his/her gun still be taken away?
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.1 If no hearing is scheduled, and/or no notice is given about the court hearing, then the federal firearm law might not apply to the abuser.2
1 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(8); see, for example, United States v. Bunnell 106 F. Supp. 2d 60 (D. Me. 2000), aff’d 280 F.3d 46 (1st Cir. 2002.)
2 See, for example, United States v. Spruill,292 F. 3d 207 (5th Cir. 2002.)