I have a relief from abuse order (RFA) against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?
It depends. If your RFA order specifically says that the abuser cannot have a gun or buy a new gun, then s/he cannot have a gun.*
Also, according to federal law, if you have a RFA that was issued by a Vermont civil court against the abuser and meets federal law requirements, the abuser cannot have a gun in his/her possession, or buy a new gun.**
In order for your RFA order to qualify under federal law, the defendant (person who the RFA 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 parter" 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 RFA order has expired, it is no longer a valid order under federal law, which means the firearm ban also does not apply. The RFA expiration date should be written at the bottom of page two on your RFA order.
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 their job, talk to your local domestic violence program about your options. See VT Advocates and Shelters to find a program in your area.
* 18 USC Sec. 922(g)(8); 18 USC Sec. 922 (g)(9)
** VT Statute §1103 (c); Benson v. Muscari, 769 A.2d 1291 (Vt. 2001)
*** 18 USC Sec. 921 (a)(32)
**** 18 USC Sec. 925 (a)(1)