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Legal Information: Massachusetts

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of December 14, 2023

Can the abuser have a gun?

If the judge believes that there is a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse, the judge is supposed to order the immediate suspension of the abuser’s license to carry firearms and firearm identification card as part of your temporary ex parte order or emergency order. In addition, unlike in other states, Massachusetts law clearly states that when law enforcement serves the abuse prevention order, summons, and complaint upon the defendant, the defendant must immediately hand over (surrender) all of the following to law enforcement:

  • his/her license to carry firearms;
  • his/her firearms identification card; and
  • all firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns and ammunition that s/he controls, owns, or possesses.1

The defendant does have the right to petition the court to ask the judge to reconsider the order for suspension and surrender. The issue would then be set down for a hearing within ten business days after the the abuser files the petition. However, if the defendant files an affidavit with the petition in which s/he explains that a firearm, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, or ammunition is required for his/her job, s/he can request that the hearing be held within two business days.2 You will be notified of the hearing and have an opportunity to be present.

For additional information about firearms restrictions, go to our MA State Gun Laws section and our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website.

1 M.G.L.A 209A §§ 3B; 7
2 M.G.L.A 209A § 3B