I have a protective order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?
No. According to state and federal law, if you have a protective order that was issued by a state civil court against the abuser and meets federal law requirements, s/he cannot have a gun in his/her possession or buy a new gun.* In order for your protective order to qualify under federal law, the defendant (a person who the order is against) must:
- Be served (given) notice of the court hearing. In other words, the defendant must have been given paperwork that told him/her about the hearing.
- Have an opportunity to attend the court hearing. Note: The abuser does not have to be at the hearing, but s/he has to have the opportunity to come to the hearing.
- Be an "intimate partner" of the victim, which includes:
- A current or former spouse
- A person with whom you share a child
- A person you live with or have lived with in the past.**
If your protective order has expired, it is no longer a valid order under federal law, which means the firearm ban also does not apply.
Note: This law may not apply to law enforcement officials, military personnel, and other government employees who use guns while performing official duties.*** If the abuser is a police officer, member of the military, or someone else who uses a gun for his/her job, talk to your local domestic violence program about your options. See MD Advocates and Shelters to find a program in your area.
* 18 USC § 922(g)(8); Maryland Code §5-133(b)(12)
** 18 USC § 921(a)(32)
*** 18 USC § 925(a)(1)