I have a protective order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?
It depends. A person who has a valid protective order against him/her cannot have a gun according to federal law. However, in order for your protective order to qualify under federal law, the defendant (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 or 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; or
- 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, you may want to talk to your local domestic violence program about your options. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please see our MS Advocates and Shelters page.
* 18 USC § 921(a)(32)
** 18 USC § 925(a)(1)