Domestic Violence & Firearms in Vermont

Posted on August 19, 2015

Vermont has no law:

  • Prohibiting individuals subject to domestic violence protective orders from possessing firearms or ammunition, although federal law applies;
  • Requiring courts to notify domestic abusers that they are prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition;
  • Requiring the removal or surrender of firearms at the time a domestic violence protective order is issued; or
  • Requiring the removal of firearms at the scene of a domestic violence incident.

In 2015, Vermont enacted a law prohibiting individuals who have been convicted of a violent crime from possessing a firearm.1 The definition of “violent crime” includes domestic violence misdemeanor offenses including domestic assault, stalking, sexual assault, and aggravated assault crimes.2 Under Vermont law, “domestic assault” only includes offenses against family or household members, (See Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, §§ 1042-44.)), but misdemeanor stalking, sexual assault, and aggravated assault offenses against any person would trigger the firearm prohibition.3

Though Vermont law does not prohibit individuals subject to domestic violence protective orders from possessing firearms or ammunition, Vermont does provide that a court issuing a protective orders for family or household members may make such orders as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff and/or the children.  The Supreme Court of Vermont has found that this provision authorizes the court to prohibit a defendant from possessing firearms.4

When a subject to a protective order is required to relinquish firearms and ammunition in his or her possession to a law enforcement agency or an approved federally licensed firearms dealer.5 The court issuing the protective order may order that the subject of the order relinquish the firearms and ammunition in his or her possession to someone other than a law enforcement agency or approved federally licensed firearms dealer, unless the court finds that the relinquishment to the other person will not adequately protect the safety of the victim.6

See our Domestic Violence & Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. See 2015 VT S.B. 141, enacting Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4017. []
  2. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, §§ 4017(d)(3), 5301(7). []
  3. See Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, §§ 5301(7), 1062-63, 3252-53, 1024. []
  4. Benson v. Muscari (2001) 172 Vt. 1, 769 A.2d 1291 (interpreting Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 15, § 1103(c) ). []
  5. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 20,  § 2307(b). []
  6. Id. []