If the abuser's gun(s) is taken away, what will happen to it?
It depends. If the abuser’s gun is ordered to be taken away by your protection order, it may either be held by the sheriff department in your county, or in some cases, the authorities will allow the abuser to leave the gun with a friend or relative while your protection order is in effect. You can ask the court or law enforcement official handling your case where the abusers guns will go.
If your abuser’s gun is confiscated by the police because s/he was convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony, the police will likely destroy the weapon.
Remember, it’s a good idea to have a safety plan in place, even if the abuser’s weapons are taken away. See our Safety Tips page for safety planning ideas.
Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?
If you think the abuser is violating state firearm laws, you can call your local police or sheriff department or the state police. If you think the abuser is violating federal firearm laws, you can call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our NE Sheriff Departments page.
You can find ATF field offices in Nebraska on the ATF website. For reporting illegal firearm activity, a person can also call 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867). Many ATF offices have victim advocates on staff (called “victim/witness coordinators”) and so perhaps you may ask to speak one of these advocates if you are having a hard time connecting with (or receiving a call back from) an ATF officer.
A local domestic violence organization in your area may also be able to answer your questions and assist you in talking to the necessary law enforcement officials. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our NE Advocates and Shelters page.
Note: Generally, the abuser does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for breaking the law. If the abuser has or buys a gun in violation of the law, the abuser can be arrested, whether or not s/he knows that s/he was in violation of the law.1
1 United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999)
What is the penalty for violating the federal firearm law?
Anyone who has or buys a gun in violation of the federal firearm law can be punished by a fine, jail time for up to 10 years, or both. 1
1 18 USC § 924(a)(2)
I do not have a protection order against the abuser, and s/he has not been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor. Can s/he have a gun?
Even if you do not have a protection order and the abuser was not convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor of a felony, there are other conditions under which the abuser cannot get a concealed weapons permit and so it may still be illegal for the abuser to possess a firearm. In order to get a concealed weapons permit in Nebraska, the applicant must meet all these other requirements:
- be at least twenty-one years of age;
- not be prohibited from purchasing or possessing a handgun according to federal law 18 USC § 922, which includes many terms, aside from the prohibition against a respondent in a protection order case from possessing a firearm;
- meet certain vision (eyesight) requirements;
- not have been convicted of a felony under the laws of Nebraska or any other state;
- within the past 10 years, not have been found to be a “mentally ill and dangerous person” under the Nebraska Mental Health Commitment Act or a similar law in another state;
- not be currently adjudged mentally incompetent by a court;
- be a resident of this state for at least the past one hundred eighty days;
- within the past 10 years, not have had a conviction of any Nebraska law relating to firearms, unlawful use of a weapon, or controlled substances (drugs) or of any similar laws of another state;
- not be on parole, probation, house arrest, or work release; and
- provide proof of firearm training.1
You can still make a plan for your safety. See our Safety Tips page for more information. You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help. You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long term or for a little while - might help improve your safety. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the NE Advocates and Shelters page under the Places that Help tab at the top of this page.
For additional information on gun laws in Nebraska, you can go to the Giffords Law Center website.
Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun under other circumstances. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.
1 NE R.S. § 69-2433
What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?
Before purchasing a gun from a licensed firearm dealer, all buyers must undergo a criminal background check that is processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is used by federal firearms licensees (FFLs), such as firearms dealers or pawnbrokers, to instantly determine whether someone is eligible to receive (own, possess, transport) firearms or explosives.1 If the abuser has a qualifying protection order against him/her, or has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor in any state, those records should be in the NICS, which should prevent the abuser from legally buying a gun. Not all states have automated record keeping systems, making it more difficult to process the criminal background check, and some criminals and abusers do slip through the system. Also, it is important to know that background checks are not required for private and online gun sales and so in those situations, the seller is not looking in the NICS.
If the abuser is able to purchase a gun and you believe that s/he should not be able to have one under the law, you can alert the police, and ask that his/her gun be taken away and perhaps the police will investigate. Generally, it is not a good idea to assume that because the abuser was able to buy a gun, it is legal for him/her to have one.
The abuser uses a gun for his/her job. Does the law still apply?
If the abuser has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, then under federal law, the abuser can NEVER buy or have a gun, even if s/he is a police officer or a military employee.
However, if the abuser was not convicted of one of the above-mentioned crimes, an abuser who is a law enforcement officer, military employee or government employee may still be able to continue to use a gun for work purposes (but not for personal use) even if you have a protective order.1
If you are confused or not sure whether the abuser can still use his/her gun for work purposes, you can talk to a domestic violence advocate in your area or call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to find out more information: 1-800-903-0111 x 2. To find a domestic violence advocate in your area, please go to our NE Advocates and Shelters page under the Places that Help tab on the top of this page.
1 18 USC § 925(a)(1)
I've read through all of this information and I am still confused. What can I do?
Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.
- You can also contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to get more information about the federal firearm law and how it applies to you: 1-800-903-0111 x 2
- You can contact a local domestic violence organization in your area - see NE Advocates and Shelters page.
- You can write to our Email Hotline.