I have a temporary protective order against the abuser. Can his/her gun be taken away?
Maybe, but not likely. Georgia law does not prohibit an abuser who has a temporary protection order against him/her from possessing a firearm. However, you may be able to request in your petition for a temporary protective order that the judge prohibit the abuser from possessing a gun while the order is in effect. It may be helpful if you list the known firearms that s/he has (or the possible access to firearms) and specifically request in your paperwork that the abuser be prohibited from possessing firearms while your temporary order is in effect.
Federal law may also prohibit the abuser from having a firearm while a temporary order is in effect but it's not likely. If the judge gave you an ex parte temporary protective order (which means that no advance notice was given to the abuser), which is commonly done, it could still be legal for him/her to have a gun under federal law. However, if the judge scheduled a court hearing and gave notice of the hearing to the abuser before giving you the temporary protective order, it is possible that it is illegal for him/her to have a gun under federal law. The protective order must also meet certain other requirements, though. Read I have a final order of protection against the abuser. Can his/her gun be taken away? (in our Federal Gun Laws section) to find out more.
I have a protective order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?
Georgia law does not automatically prohibit an abuser who has a protective order against him/her from possessing a firearm. However, in a protective order petition in Georgia, you can request that the judge order the abuser not possess or purchase firearms according to federal law in the section where you can request additional protections. You may want to include as much information that you can about any known firearms that the abuser owns or to which s/he has access.
Federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser's right to have a gun if you have a protective order against him/her that meets certain requirements even if the judge does not specifically include on the order that s/he cannot have a gun. Go to the Federal Gun Laws page to get more information.
If you are afraid for your safety, talk to your local domestic violence program about your options. Go to the GA Advocates and Shelters to find a program in your area.
Is there anything I can do to make it more likely that the abuser's gun is taken away when I get a protective 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.
What is the penalty if the abuser has a gun in violation of my protective order?
If a judge specifically includes in your protective order that the abuser is prohibited from possessing a gun, then under Georgia law, if the abuser violates any part of your protective order, s/he may be punished by an action for contempt or criminally punished.1 Violating a protective order can be a misdemeanor, and the abuser can be punished by a fine of up to $1,000, imprisoned for up to one year, or both.2
Also, anyone who has or buys a gun in violation of the federal firearm law can be punished by a fine, jail time for up to 10 years, or both.3 For more information, see our Federal Gun Laws page.
1 GA ST § 19-13-6
2 GA ST §§ 16-5-95(c); 17-10-3(a), (b)
3 18 USC § 924(a)(2)