I have a protection order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?
No, according to Utah state law, if the judge sees the abuser's gun as a serious enough threat, the judge can order that the respondent* cannot have or buy a gun and must give up any guns s/he has.*
In addition, there is a warning written on both your temporary and full protective order, which tells the abuser that it is a federal crime to have, receive, or buy any firearm or ammunition while the protective order is in effect.
However, please note that in Utah, the police may not actually take the gun away after the protective order hearing unless the abuser commits another crime or violates the order.
- In order for your protective order to qualify under federal law, the defendant (the 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;
- a person you live with or have lived with in the past.**
Note: 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. In Utah, a protective order that is issued after a hearing in which the abuser had the opportunity to participate is valid until the court says otherwise. Two years after the order is given, the abuser can ask the court to dismiss the order, but if s/he does not ask for it to be dismissed, it will remain in effect.***
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, talk to your local domestic violence program about your options. See UT Advocates and Shelters to find a program in your area.
* U.C.A. § 78B-7-106(2)(d)
** 18 USC § 921(a)(32)
*** U.C.A. § 78B-7-106(6)(c)
**** 18 USC § 925(a)(1)