I have a restraining order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?
It depends. Your restraining order may specifically state that the abuser cannot have a gun or buy a new gun. In Guam, when a person is arrested for family violence, a judge can include in the restraining order that the abuser is prohibited from buying or having a gun or other weapon.1 In Guam, violation of a restraining order is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or prison up to one year or both. If there is bodily injury that happened during the violation, the respondent can be imprisoned for at least 48 hours. The respondent can be imprisoned for up to 30 days if there is bodily injury more than once within a year.2
Federal laws, which apply to all states and territories, also restrict a person's right to have a gun if s/he has a restraining order against him/her. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.
To talk to someone at your local domestic violence program about your options, see GU Advocates and Shelters to find a program in your area.
1 9 GCA § 30.21(a)(5)
2 9 GCA § 30.40(a)(4) & (b)
I have a preliminary (temporary) order against the abuser. Do I have to wait until I receive a permanent order before the abuser's gun is taken away?
Maybe. If the judge gave you an ex parte temporary restraining 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 protection order, it is possible that it is ILLEGAL for him/her to have a gun under federal law. The restraining order must also meet certain other requirements, though. Read I have a protection order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun? to find out more.
Is there anything I can do to make it more likely that the abuser's gun is taken away when I get a restraining order?
There are also a few steps you can take to help make it clear to the judge that the removal of guns should be included in the restraining order:
- 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 write in your restraining order or to check a box that your abuser cannot own, buy or have a gun while the order is in effect.
- 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 your abuser cannot keep his/her guns while the restraining order is in effect, you may also want to ask that the judge to:
- Require the abuser to give his 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 your abuser.1
1 Americans 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.