Legal Information: Federal

Federal Gun Laws

Updated: 
June 20, 2018

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, 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 Sheriff Departments page.

You can find ATF field offices in your area on the ATF website. For reporting illegal firearm activity, a person can also call 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867). In addition, many ATF offices have victim advocates on staff (called “victim/witness coordinators”). 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 Advocates and Shelters page.

Note: Generally, a person does not have to have knowledge of a specific law in order to be arrested (and convicted) for violating the law. So, if the abuser has a gun or buys a gun in violation of federal law, the abuser can be arrested and convicted, whether or not the abuser knows s/he was in violation of the law. "Ignorance of the law" is no excuse or defense.1

1 See, for example, United States v. Denis, 297 F.3d. 25 (1st Cir. 2002); United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999).