I have a temporary order against the abuser. Can his/her gun be taken away?
As part of a protective order hearing, a judge can order the respondent to give to law enforcement any firearm in his/her possession and to not have/use any firearm while you have the temporary protective order if the abuse consisted of:
- the use or threatened use of a firearm by the respondent against you; or
- serious bodily harm to you, or a threat to cause serious bodily harm to you.1
However, if there is no specific mention of a firearm restriction in the temporary order, then you may have to wait until you are given a permanent order.
1 MD Code, Family Law § 4-505(a)(2)(viii)
I have a protective order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?
Maryland law makes it illegal for someone to have a firearm if there is a valid civil protective order issued against him/her from Maryland (or from a court in another state, tribe, or territory).1
Note: The abuser might not have to give up the gun right away. The law allows for the person who has to turn in the firearm to take the gun to a police station as long as it is unloaded and the person has called ahead to let the police know that s/he is bringing the gun to the police station.2 So, there may be small window of time after the order is issued where the abuser can still legally have the firearm while preparing to bring it to the police.
Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict a person’s right to have a gun under certain circumstances. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.
1 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-133(b)(12)
2 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-133(e)
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?
Depending on the judge in your case, there may be some things you can do to increase the chances that the judge will require that an abuser’s guns are taken away. Keep in mind these tips may or may not result in the outcome that you are hoping for. Every judge is different. However, here are a few suggestions that may help:
- If the abuser has a gun, tell the judge how many guns s/he has, and if s/he has ever shown you the guns or displayed them as a way to intimidate you and maintain control over you.
- 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.
- 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 protection 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.
- If the gun restriction is granted, check to make sure that it is written on your order before leaving the courthouse.