If the abuser's gun(s) is taken away, what will happen to it?
If the abuser’s gun is taken away, the court will fill out a form that tells the abuser to give his/her guns to the state police and also describes the guns that must be surrendered. The form will be sent to the state police to let them know about the order, and the state police will notify the court if the abuser does not turn in his/her guns. The guns will be stored in the property room until any legal proceedings related to the gun have been completed. Once the proceedings are over, the gun will be destroyed.
Also, if the abuser uses his/her gun during a domestic violence incident or if the police officer responding to the incident thinks that the abuser’s gun is enough of a threat to you, the officer can confiscate the gun and store it until any legal proceedings related to the incident have been completed.1
1 IC § 35-33-1-1.5(b)
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 or 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 Indiana Sheriff Departments page.
You can find ATF field offices in Indiana on the ATF website. For reporting illegal firearm activity, a person can also call 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867). Many ATF offices have victim advocates on staff (called “victim/witness coordinators”) and so perhaps 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 Indiana Advocates and Shelters page.
Note: Generally, the abuser does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for breaking the law. If the abuser has or buys a gun in violation of the law, the abuser can be arrested, whether or not s/he knows that s/he was in violation of the law.1
1United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999)
What is the penalty for violating firearm laws?
Anyone who owns, 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.1
Under Indiana state law, anyone who has or buys a gun after being convicted of domestic battery is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor (or a level 5 felony if certain conditions are met) and can be punished by jail time of up to one year, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.2 Also, anyone who has a handgun after being convicted of a serious violent felony is guilty of a Level 4 felony, which can be punished by incarceration of between two and twelve years, with the advisory sentence being six years. In addition, the person may be fined up to $10,000.3
1 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2)
2 IC §§ 35-47-2-1(c),(e); 35-47-4-6; 35-50-3-2
3 IC §§ 35-47-4-5(c); 35-50-2-5.5
I do not have an order for protection against the abuser, and s/he has not been convicted of a crime. Is there anything I can do?
If you do not have an order for protection, and the abuser has not been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, you can still make a plan for your safety. See our Safety Tips page for more information. You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help. You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long term or for a little while - might help improve your safety. See our Indiana Places that Help page to find a local domestic violence organization near you.
For additional information on gun laws in Indiana, you can go to the Giffords Law Center website.
What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?
Before purchasing a gun from a licensed firearm dealer, all buyers must undergo a criminal background check that is processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is used by federal firearms licensees (FFLs), such as firearms dealers or pawnbrokers, to instantly determine whether someone is eligible to receive (own, possess, transport) firearms or explosives.1 If the abuser has a qualifying protection order against him/her, or has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor in any state, those records should be in the NICS, which should prevent the abuser from legally buying a gun. Not all states have automated record keeping systems, making it more difficult to process the criminal background check, and some criminals and abusers do slip through the system. Also, it is important to know that background checks are not required for private and online gun sales and so in those situations, the seller is not looking in the NICS.
If the abuser is able to purchase a gun and you believe that s/he should not be able to have one under the law, you can alert the police, and ask that his/her gun be taken away and perhaps the police will investigate. Generally, it is not a good idea to assume that because the abuser was able to buy a gun, it is legal for him/her to have one.
The abuser uses a gun for his/her job. Does the law still apply?
If the abuser is a law enforcement officer, military employee or government employee, and s/he is prohibited from having a gun because of an order for protection, then s/he might be able to continue to use his/her gun for work purposes, but not for personal use.
However, if the abuser has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, then under federal law, s/he abuser cannot buy or have a gun, even if s/he is a police officer or a military employee.1
If you are confused or not sure whether or not the abuser can still use a gun for work purposes, you can talk to a domestic violence advocate in your area or call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to find out more information: 1-800-903-0111 x2.
To find a domestic violence advocate in your area, please go to our Indiana Places that Help page.
1 18 U.S.C. § 925(a)(1)
I've read through all of this information, and I am still confused. What can I do?
Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.
- You can also contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to get more information about the federal firearm law and how it applies to you: 1-800-903-0111 x2.
- You can contact a local domestic violence organization in your area (see our Places that Help page).
- You can write to our Email Hotline.