If the abuser's gun is taken away, what will happen to it?
Oklahoma state law says that if law enforcement arrests someone for domestic violence, the officer is supposed to take any weapon from the abuser that the officer believes was used to commit domestic violence.1
After the weapon has been taken, it will be held by the District Attorney’s office until a final decision has been made about what will happen to it. The District Attorney’s office is supposed to give notice (a “notice of seizure and forfeiture”) to the owner within ten days. The owner has a chance to answer the notice, in writing, and request to have the gun returned. If such an answer is filed, a hearing will be held within ten to sixty days. A judge will decide if the gun should be returned to the owner. If the gun is not returned, either after a hearing or after the owner fails to answer the notice of seizure and forfeiture, then it will be sold or destroyed.2
1 22 O.S. § 60.8(A)
2 22 O.S. §§ 60.8(B), (C); 991a-19
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 Oklahoma Sheriff Departments page.
You can find ATF field offices in Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma 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
1United 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 state firearm laws?
Anyone who has been convicted of a felony and has or buys a gun in violation of Oklahoma state law can charged with a felony and can be punished by a prison sentence of up to ten years.1
If the judge specifically ordered that the abuser cannot have a gun as part of your protective order, and the abuser has a gun anyway, s/he could be arrested for violating the provisions of a protective order. The penalty for this sort of crime is a misdemeanor that is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, up to one year of jail time, or both.2 The penalties for violating a protective order increase if the abuser has violated a protective order in the past or causes physical injuries to the victim when violating a protective order.3
1 21 O.S. § 1284
2 22 O.S. § 60.6(A)(1)
3 22 O.S. § 60.6(A)(2), (B)
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.