I have a domestic violence protective order (DVPO) against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?
It depends. If a judge specifically orders in the DVPO that the abuser cannot have a gun or buy a gun, then s/he cannot have a gun in his/her possession – and doing so could be a direct violation of the DVPO. When you are in court getting a domestic violence protective order (DVPO) against the abuser, you can ask the judge to specifically order that the abuser cannot have or buy a gun.1
According to North Carolina law, the judge must order that the abuser’s gun and ammunition be taken away as part of your DVPO if the judge finds that the abuser has done any of the following:
- Has a history of using or threatening to use a deadly weapon;
- Has threatened to seriously injure or kill you or your child;
- Has threatened to commit suicide; or
- Has seriously injured you or your child.
The judge should also order the abuser to give the gun(s) s/he has to a law enforcement agency within 24 hours of being served with the order. The ban on guns is valid for as long as the order of protection lasts.2
The law described above 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 their job, talk to your local domestic violence program about your options.
Note: Additionally, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun if you have a restraining order against him/her that meets certain requirements even if the judge does not specifically include on the order that he cannot have a gun. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.
If you are afraid for your safety, talk to your local domestic violence program about safety planning and other options.
1 NCGS § 50B-3(a)(1)
2 NCGS § 50B-3.1(a)
3 NCGS § 50B-3.1(k)