I have a restraining order and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal?
Under Oregon law, a person cannot buy or have a gun if that person is subject to a restraining order that:
- was issued after s/he received notice of his/her ability to request a hearing for an opportunity to be heard;
- orders that s/he not stalk, intimidate, molest, or menace an intimate partner; and
- specifically finds that s/he represents a “credible threat” to the physical safety of an intimate partner or a child of either party.1
Note: You will likely get an ex parte order when you file your petition, which means the order is issued without the respondent being given notice of the hearing or being present at the hearing. This type of order may not qualify as a restraining order that restricts a respondent’s ability to get or have a gun since it does not meet requirement #1 in the list above.2
If the abuser doesn’t request a show-cause hearing, then your ex parte order will be considered “final” without the abuser ever appearing in court. The key thing to remember, however, is that the respondent does then have the opportunity to request a hearing if s/he wants to argue against the restraining order. Therefore, the firearm restriction would still apply as long as the abuser received notice of his/her opportunity to request a hearing.3 If you are unsure if your restraining order meets the requirements listed above, please talk to a lawyer.
Also, if the abuser applies for a concealed handgun license, that license will not be granted if the abuser:
- has been served with a citation to appear in court for a civil stalking protective order;
- has a civil stalking protective order against him/her; or
- has a restraining order to prevent abuse against him/her.4
If the abuser already has a concealed handgun license, that license can be canceled (revoked) by the sheriff for any of these reasons listed above.5 For more information on how this process of revoking a license is started, you may want to talk to a sheriff. You can find a link to your local sheriff’s office on our Oregon Sheriff Departments page.
In addition, 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 - you can read more about this on our Federal Gun Laws page.
1 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.255(1)(a)
2 Or. Rev. Stat. § 107.718
3 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.255(1)(a)(A)(ii)
4 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.291(1)(m)
5 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.293(3)
Is there anything I can do to make it more likely that the abuser's gun is taken away when I get a restraining order?
Depending on the judge in your case, there may be some things you can do to increase the chances that the judge will require that an abuser’s guns are taken away. Keep in mind these tips may or may not result in the outcome that you are hoping for. Every judge is different. However, here are a few suggestions that may help:
- If the abuser has a gun, tell the judge how many guns s/he has, and if s/he has ever shown you the guns or displayed them as a way to intimidate you and maintain control over you.
- Ask the judge to specifically write in your restraining order that the abuser cannot own, buy or have a gun while the order is in effect. The form that you will have to fill out to petition for a restraining order will have a place where you can request additional protections. You can ask that the abuser’s gun(s) be taken away in that section.
- It also may be helpful if the judge explains what will happen to the abuser’s guns, who will take them, and where they will be held once you leave the courthouse. If the judge agrees to add language that the abuser cannot keep his/her guns while the restraining order is in effect, you may also want to ask that the judge:
- require the abuser to give his/her guns to the police, or require the police to go to the abuser’s house and get them;
- make it clear to both you and the abuser how long the guns will be kept away from the abuser; and
- order that the police notify you when the guns are returned to the abuser.
- If the gun restriction is granted, check to make sure that it is written on your order before leaving the courthouse.