I have a protection from abuse order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?
It depends. If the protection from abuse (PFA) order states that the abuser cannot possess or buy a gun, then s/he cannot keep a gun or buy a new gun. If you apply for a protection from abuse order in Maine, the judge may, according to Maine state law, direct that the abuser cannot possess a gun or any other dangerous weapon while the order is in effect.1
Maine state law and federal law also state that when a civil court issues a Maine protection from abuse order (or an order from another state) against the abuser and that order meets the requirements outlined in the federal firearm statute, the abuser cannot buy or possess a gun.2 Note: Your protection from abuse order does not need to state that the abuser cannot have a gun for federal firearm law to apply.
For your protection from abuse order to meet federal law requirements, the defendant (the person who the protection from abuse order is filed against) must:
- be served (given) notice of the court hearing. In other words, the defendant must be given paperwork that tells him/her about the hearing;
- have an opportunity to attend the court hearing; and
- Note: The abuser does not need to be at the hearing, but s/he must have the opportunity to come to the hearing.
- be your “intimate partner,” including:
- A current or former spouse;
- A person with whom you share a child;
- A person that you live with or have lived with in the past.
If your protection from abuse order has expired, it is no longer a valid order under federal law. When the order is not valid under federal law, 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.3 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 ME Advocates and Shelters page under the Places that Help tab at the top of this page.
1 ME ST T. 19-A § 4007
2 18 USC § 922(g)(8) and ME ST T. 15 § 393(D)
3 18 USC § 925(a)(1)