Abused women are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser owns a firearm, and domestic violence assaults involving a gun are 12 times more likely to end in death than assaults with other weapons or physical harm. The numbers speak for themselves—to save lives, it is essential that federal and state gun laws keep deadly weapons out of domestic abusers’ hands.

Background

Domestic abusers with guns pose a severe and deadly threat to their intimate partners.1 Domestic violence assaults involving a gun are 12 times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons or bodily force.2 Research has repeatedly shown that domestic abusers with guns inflict a disproportionate amount of lethal violence on their spouses and partners:

  • Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm.3
  • More than two-thirds of spouse and ex-spouse homicide victims between 1980 and 2008 were killed with firearms.4
  • In 2011, nearly two-thirds of women killed with guns were killed by their intimate partners.5

New-DV-GifDomestic Violence Fuels Mass Shootings and Assaults

Domestic violence also fuels mass shootings, defined as a shooting in which four or more people are murdered. A study by Everytown for Gun Safety of every identifiable mass shooting between January 2009 and July 2014 found that 57% of them involved the killing of a family member, or a current or former intimate partner of the shooter.6

The role of guns in domestic assaults is not limited to homicides. A 2004 survey of female domestic violence shelter residents in California found that more than one third (36.7%) reported having been threatened or harmed with a firearm.7 In nearly two thirds (64.5%) of cases in which a gun was present in a household shared by a domestic abuser and victim, the abuser had used the firearm against the victim, usually threatening to shoot or kill her.8

Gaps in Federal Law Leave Abused Victims Vulnerable

As described below, federal law prohibits abusers who have been convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors and abusers subject to certain domestic violence protective orders from purchasing or possessing guns.9 The federal laws intended to prevent access to firearms by domestic abusers have significant limitations, however, leading many states to adopt broader laws that address these problems. These dangerous gaps in federal law are listed below.

  • The federal laws do not apply to many abusers who victimize non-spouse partners. Domestic violence affects people in family or intimate relationships that fall outside the protections of federal law. For example, dating partners are not within the federal prohibitions unless the partners have cohabitated as spouses or have a child in common. The risk of domestic violence being committed by a dating partner is well documented. In 2008, individuals killed by current dating partners made up almost half of all spouse and current dating partner homicides.10 A study of applicants for domestic violence restraining orders in Los Angeles found that the most common relationship between the victim and abuser was a dating relationship.11
  • The federal laws do not apply to abusers who victimize a family member other than a partner or child. The current federal prohibitions also do not address violence against family members other than a child or intimate partner. They therefore do not address violence against someone like an abused sibling or parent. According to data from the U.S Department of Justice, the proportion of family homicides that involve a murdered parent has been increasing, rising steadily from 9.7% of all family homicides in 1980 to 13% in 2008.12
  • The federal laws do not apply to convicted stalkers and others subject to a protective order. Similar loopholes in federal law allow access to guns by convicted stalkers13 and abusers subject to domestic violence protective orders that cover the period before a hearing (known as “ex parte” orders).14
  • The federal laws fail to require domestic abusers to surrender their firearms. Federal law does not require domestic abusers to turn in their firearms once they are convicted of a crime of domestic violence or become subject to a restraining order. As a result, abusers continue to commit crimes with guns they are prohibited from owning under federal law. In 2011, more than 50 people in Washington State were arrested on gun charges while subject to protective orders.15
  • The federal laws are weakened because not all states report all prohibited abusers. In order for background checks to prevent abusers from obtaining guns, states must report abusers who fall within prohibited categories to the proper databases. Identifying the abusers to be reported involves a series of complex legal issues that many states have not yet addressed.16 As a result, many states do not comprehensively enter domestic violence protective order and offender information into the proper databases.
  • The federal laws are weakened by ineffectual federal background check laws. Federal law does not require a background check to be performed before every sale of a gun, including sales by unlicensed, private sellers. The private sale loophole enables many domestic abusers to illegally obtain the firearms they use against their victims. In states that require a background check for every handgun sale, 38% fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners.17 For more information about background check requirements, see our summary on Universal Background Checks.

The Public Supports Laws to Close Federal Loopholes

State laws that close dangerous loopholes in federal law, and comprehensively restrict access to firearms by a person subject to a domestic violence restraining order, are associated with a significant reduction in the number of intimate partner homicides. One study found that such laws are associated with a 19% reduction in the risk of intimate partner homicides.18

domestic_1_FINAL

Policies that comprehensively protect victims of domestic violence also enjoy tremendous public support. A 2006 survey of Californians demonstrated that 70% of men and 84% of women want firearms taken away from domestic violence perpetrators.19 Similarly, a 2013 national poll found that 80.8% of people surveyed, including 75.6% of gun owners, support prohibiting gun ownership for 10 years after a person has been convicted of violating a domestic violence restraining order, while 73.7% of gun owners and 72.4% of non-gun owners support prohibiting gun ownership for 10 years after a person is convicted of domestic violence.20

Summary of Federal Law

Federal law prohibits purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition by people who have been convicted in any court of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,” and/or who are subject to certain domestic violence protective orders.21

The Lautenberg Amendment

The Lautenberg Amendment prohibits people convicted of certain domestic violence crimes from buying or owning guns. The federal prohibition that applies to domestic violence misdemeanants was adopted in 1996 and is commonly known as the “Lautenberg Amendment” after its sponsor, the late Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). It defines a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” as an offense that is a federal, state, or tribal law misdemeanor and has the use or attempted use of physical force or threatened use of a deadly weapon as an element.22 In addition, the offender must fit one of the following criteria:

  • Be a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.
  • Share a child in common with the victim.
  • Be a current or former cohabitant with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian.
  • Be similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.23

A conviction for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence represents the third-most frequent reason for denial of an application to purchase a firearm by the FBI, after a felony conviction and an outstanding arrest warrant.24 Between November 30, 1998 and July 31, 2014, over 109,000 people convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence were denied purchase of a firearm because of the Lautenberg Amendment.25

Protective Orders and Prohibited Purchasers

Federal law also prohibits some abusers who are subject to protective orders from purchasing or possessing firearms and ammunition. The prohibition applies only if the protective order was issued after notice to the abuser and a hearing, and only if the order protects an “intimate partner” of the abuser or a child of the abuser or intimate partner.26 An “intimate partner” includes a current or former spouse, a parent of a child in common with the abuser, or an individual with whom the abuser does or has cohabitated.27 Between November 30, 1998 and July 31, 2014, over 46,000 people subject to domestic violence protective orders were denied purchase of a firearm because of this prohibition.28 Research indicates that this prohibition also deters people subject to active protective orders from applying to buy a firearm.29

Notification to Domestic Violence Offenders

The Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (the “2005 VAWA”) required states and local governments, as a condition of certain funding, to certify that their judicial administrative policies and practices included notification to domestic violence offenders of both of the federal firearm prohibitions mentioned above and any applicable related federal, state, or local laws.30 The 2005 VAWA did not, however, require states or local governments to establish a procedure for the surrender of firearms by abusers.

Summary of State Law

Many states have adopted laws that fill gaps in federal law by more comprehensively restricting access to firearms and ammunition by domestic abusers.

States That Restrict Access to Guns by Domestic Violence Misdemeanants

States have closed the gaps in federal law pertaining to abusers who commit misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence by enacting laws that:

  • Prohibit domestic violence misdemeanants not covered by federal law from buying or possessing guns and/or ammunition.
  • Authorize or require surrender of guns and/or ammunition after conviction of a domestic violence misdemeanor.
  • Require reporting domestic violence offender identities to databases used for firearm purchaser background checks.

Prohibiting Domestic Violence Misdemeanants from Buying or Possessing Firearms or Ammunition

As noted above31, federal law prohibits purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition by people convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,” but defines that term narrowly. Nineteen states and DC go beyond federal law and prohibit purchase or possession of firearms or ammunition by people with misdemeanor convictions involving a broader class of victims. The strongest laws prohibit purchase or possession of firearms by individuals convicted of violent misdemeanors generally, regardless of the victim’s relationship to the offender. California, for example, prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms or ammunition by anyone convicted of assault, battery, or stalking without regard to the victim’s relationship to the offender.32 Connecticut, Hawaii, and New York also use this approach. For more information about these laws, see our summary on Categories of Prohibited People.33

In addition to the four states described above, the following jurisdictions have laws that specifically prohibit firearm purchase or possession by people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses:34

Alabama35
Colorado36
Delaware37
District of Columbia38
Illinois39
Indiana40
Iowa41
Louisiana42
Massachusetts43
Maine44
Minnesota45
Nebraska46
Nevada47
New Jersey48
Oregon49
Pennsylvania50
South Dakota51
South Carolina52
Tennessee53
Texas54
Vermont55
Washington56
West Virginia57

These laws exceed federal law in various ways, including by broadening the definition of “domestic violence.” Some of these laws include in their definitions of domestic violence a violent misdemeanor against: a former or current dating partner of the offender, someone with whom the offender has had a romantic relationship, or any present or former household member or cohabitant of the offender. Other laws include in their definitions of domestic violence a violent misdemeanor against any family member, regardless of whether the victim resides with the offender.

Illinois, for example, prohibits firearm and ammunition possession by anyone convicted of “domestic battery,” defined to include certain acts against:

  • Any person related by blood or marriage, or through a child, to the defendant.
  • Any person who shares, or has shared, a dwelling with the defendant.
  • Any person who has, or has had, a dating or engagement relationship with the defendant (excluding casual acquaintances and ordinary fraternization in business or social contexts).
  • Any person with disabilities if the defendant was his or her personal assistant.
  • Any person with a duty to care for an elderly person or a person with disabilities in that person’s home.58

Illinois also prohibits firearm and ammunition possession by anyone convicted within the past five years of a battery, assault, aggravated assault, or violation of an order of protection if the person used or possessed a firearm during the crime, regardless of the person’s relationship with the victim.59

States That Authorize or Require Surrender of Firearms and/or Ammunition After Conviction of a Domestic Violence Misdemeanor

Twelve states that prohibit domestic violence misdemeanants from possessing guns also authorize or require surrender of guns and/or ammunition after conviction of a domestic violence misdemeanor. Of these twelve, five require the surrender of firearms by every individual who has become ineligible to possess them: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New York, and Pennsylvania. For a description of these laws, see “Disarming Prohibited Possessors,” in our summary on Categories of Prohibited People. In addition, Colorado,60 Illinois,61 Iowa,62 Massachusetts,63 Minnesota,64 New Jersey (as of August 1, 2017),65 and Tennessee66 specifically require surrender of firearms when a person is convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor. In Iowa, for example, a state court that enters a judgment of conviction for a domestic violence misdemeanor and finds that the subject of the order or conviction is in possession of any firearm or ammunition must order the firearm or ammunition to be sold or transferred by a specific date to the custody of a qualified person in this state, as determined by the court.67

States That Require Reporting of Domestic Violence Offender Identities to the NICS Databases

Four states have recently enacted laws designed to facilitate the reporting of abusers whose crimes fall within the federal definition of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” to the databases used for firearm purchaser background checks. In 2011, New York enacted a law establishing a procedure to be used in trials for certain violent misdemeanors to determine whether the crime qualifies as domestic violence under the federal definition of that term. If the crime is found to fall within the definition, the clerk of the court must send a written a report to a state agency, who then reports the determination to the FBI for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).68 Illinois69 and Minnesota70 have similar laws. Massachusetts requires courts to transmit records of certain domestic violence offenses to the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services for inclusion in NICS.71

States That Restrict Access to Guns by Abusers Subject to Protective Orders

States have closed the gaps in federal law pertaining to abusers who are subject to domestic violence protective orders by enacting laws that:

  • Authorize or require courts to prohibit abusers subject to protective orders from buying or possessing firearms.
  • Authorize or require removal or surrender of firearms when a protective order is issued.

States That Authorize or Require Courts to Prohibit Subjects of Protective Orders From Buying or Possessing Firearms

The following 36 jurisdictions have laws authorizing or requiring courts to prohibit subjects of certain domestic violence protective orders from purchasing or possessing firearms.72 Many of these laws have significant loopholes, however.

Alaska73
Arizona74
California75
Colorado76
Connecticut77
Delaware78
District of Columbia79
Florida80
Hawaii81
Illinois82
Indiana83
Iowa84
Louisiana85
Maine86
Maryland87
Massachusetts88
Michigan89
Minnesota90
Montana91
Nebraska92
Nevada93
New Hampshire94
New Jersey95
New York96
North Carolina97
North Dakota98
Pennsylvania99
Rhode Island100
South Dakota101
Tennessee102
Texas103
Utah104
Virginia105
Washington106
West Virginia107
Wisconsin108

As noted above, the federal law prohibiting subjects of protective orders from purchasing or possessing firearms and ammunition applies only if the protective order was issued after notice to the abuser and a hearing, and only if the order protects a narrowly-defined “intimate partner” of the abuser. Some state laws are broader, for the following reasons:

  • Many states include “ex parte” orders. Many states, including California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Texas, and West Virginia, go beyond federal law by prohibiting firearm purchase or possession by individuals subject to certain domestic violence protective orders issued before notice to the abuser or a full hearing (known as “ex parte” orders). Or, such states authorize judges to prohibit gun access by people subject to ex parte protective orders. Massachusetts, for example, requires a court that is issuing an ex parte order to order the immediate suspension and surrender of any license to carry firearms or firearms identification card and order the defendant to surrender all firearms and ammunition which he or she possesses to the appropriate law enforcement official.109
  • Some states broaden who may seek a protective order.110 Many states exceed federal law by including a broader category of domestic violence victims who may apply for a protective order prohibiting firearms. About half the states exceed federal law by allowing victims to seek a protective order prohibiting purchase or possession of firearms by: a former or current dating partner or anyone with whom the victim has had a romantic relationship, any person who is presently or has in the past resided with the victim, and/or any family member.
  • Some states include ammunition. A small number of states also prohibit subjects of domestic violence protective orders from purchasing or possessing ammunition.

In California, for example, a person subject to any one of the following types of court orders is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition:

  • A domestic violence protective order whether issued ex parte, after notice and hearing, or in a judgment.
  • A temporary restraining order issued to a victim of harassment.
  • A temporary restraining order issued to an employer on behalf of an employee.
  • A temporary restraining order issued to a postsecondary educational institution on behalf of a student.
  • A protective order for an elderly or dependent adult who has suffered abuse, provided the abuse was not solely financial;
  • An emergency protective order related to stalking.
  • A protective order relating to a crime of domestic violence or the intimidation or dissuasion of victim or witness.111

Under California law, individuals may seek a domestic violence protective order, prohibiting the purchase or possession of firearms, against:

  • A former or current dating partner or any person with whom the individual has had a romantic relationship.
  • Any person who is presently or has in the past resided with the individual.
  • Any family member, even if the abuser has never resided with the individual.112

States That Authorize or Require Removal or Surrender of Firearms When a Protective Order Is Issued

To ensure that firearms are taken from the homes of domestic abusers,113 27 states have laws that facilitate the surrender of firearms and/or ammunition by abusers when they become subject to protective orders. About half of these states specify to whom an abuser must surrender his or her weapons for safekeeping during the term of a protective order. Most specify that abusers must surrender their firearms to law enforcement,114 while other states permit the abuser to surrender his or her firearms to other designated third parties.115 The strongest state laws, such as the one passed by New Jersey in 2017,116 require police officers to remove firearms after a protective order is issued, while weaker laws authorize (but do not require) judges issuing protective orders to mandate that the abuser surrender firearms.

The following states directly authorize or require police officers to remove firearms and/or ammunition from abusers subject to domestic violence protective orders, including ex parte protective orders:

Massachusetts117
Hawaii118
New Jersey119
Illinois120

Massachusetts, Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey, as well as the below states, authorize or require a court that is issuing a domestic violence protective order to require the abuser to surrender firearms.121 Some of these states also authorize or require firearm surrender provisions in certain ex parte domestic violence protective orders, and some also authorize or require orders requiring the surrender of ammunition.

California
Colorado
Connecticut
Iowa
Maryland
Minnesota
New Hampshire
New York
North Carolina
Tennessee
Washington
Wisconsin

Seven states in this category (California, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Wisconsin) require subjects of domestic violence protective orders to surrender all firearms in his or her possession, regardless of the circumstances leading to the order. California’s law authorizes the court to issue a search warrant if the abuser fails to relinquish firearms he or she possesses.

In other states, domestic violence protective orders must direct the abuser to surrender firearms if certain conditions are met. In New York, for example, a court issuing a protective order (including an ex parte order) must order the immediate surrender of all firearms owned or possessed by an abuser if the court finds a substantial risk that the abuser may use or threaten to use a firearm unlawfully against the victim, and in other specified situations.122

In addition, the following states authorize (but do not require) courts to issue protective orders that direct the abuser to surrender certain firearms in his or her possession in various circumstances:123

Alaska
Arizona
Delaware
Florida
Indiana
Nevada
North Dakota
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Dakota
Vermont124

States That Allow Police to Remove Firearms from Domestic Violence Incidents

Eighteen states allow law enforcement officers to remove firearms when they arrive at the scene of a domestic violence incident. These laws vary in terms of whether removal is required or simply authorized, which firearms must be removed, and the length of time that must pass after the incident before the firearms can be returned. For laws regarding law enforcement removal of firearms from dangerous people generally, see the section entitled “Removal of Firearms from Individuals Shown to Be Dangerous” in our summary on Categories of Prohibited People.

The following states require law enforcement to remove at least some firearms at the scene of a domestic violence incident:

California125
Hawaii126
Illinois127
Montana128
Nebraska129
New Hampshire130
New Jersey131
Ohio132
Oklahoma133
Pennsylvania134
Tennessee135
Utah136
West Virginia137

The following states authorize, but do not require, law enforcement to remove firearms at the scene of a domestic violence incident:

Alaska138
Arizona139
Connecticut140
Indiana141
Maryland142

The most comprehensive approach requires law enforcement to remove all firearms in the abuser’s possession, ownership or control. For example, in New Hampshire, law enforcement must remove all firearms and ammunition in an abuser’s control, ownership, or possession whenever law enforcement has probable cause to believe that a person has been abused.143 Connecticut authorizes, but does not require, the removal of all firearms and ammunition at the location where domestic violence is alleged to have been committed if the firearms or ammunition are in the possession of the suspect or in plain view.144

Other states allow the removal of only certain firearms, or allow the removal of firearms only if certain conditions are met. In New Jersey, law enforcement must remove firearms observed at the scene if law enforcement has probable cause to believe domestic violence has occurred and reasonably believes these firearms expose the victim to danger.145 In California, law enforcement officers who are at the scene of a domestic violence incident that involves a threat to human life or a physical assault must take temporary custody of any firearm in plain sight or discovered pursuant to a consensual or other lawful search.146 In Hawaii, a police officer who believes that a person recently assaulted or threatened to assault a family or household member must seize all firearms and ammunition that were used or threatened to be used in the commission of the offense. Hawaii police officers may also seize all firearms in plain view, or discovered pursuant to a consensual search, as necessary for the protection of the officer or any family or household member.147

Many states, such as Oklahoma,148 have even weaker laws, and only allow the seizure of firearms used in the incident, and only if the abuser is simultaneously arrested.

State laws also vary with respect to the duration of the removal of firearms from domestic abusers. Of the states that specify a duration, Ohio law is the strictest, requiring firearms seized at the scene of a domestic violence incident to be given (permanently) to law enforcement, sold at public auction, or destroyed, although this law only applies to firearms used, brandished, or threatened to be used in the incident.149 Some states, such as Illinois and Maryland, direct that firearms may only be held so long as they are needed for evidence or until the proceedings against the abuser are concluded.150 Other states require firearms to be held for a specified time period, such as up to 45 days151 or at least 72 hours.152

Key Legislative Elements

The features listed below are intended to provide a framework from which policy options may be considered. A jurisdiction considering new legislation should consult with counsel.

  • In addition to persons prohibited by federal law, persons convicted of a violent misdemeanor against a former or current dating partner, cohabitant, or family member are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms and ammunition (California, Connecticut, Illinois, New York).
  • When a person is convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, the court must order the person to surrender all firearms and ammunition in his or her possession (Colorado, Iowa, Tennessee).
  • A court that is convicting a defendant of a violence misdemeanor must determine whether the crime falls within the federal definition of “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,” and, if so, must report the defendant to the databases used for firearm purchaser background checks (Illinois, New York).
  • In addition to persons prohibited by federal law, former or current dating partners, cohabitants, or family members who are subject to a domestic violence protective order are prohibiting from purchasing or possessing firearms and ammunition (California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Utah).
  • Persons subject to a domestic violence protective order issued before notice or a hearing are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms and ammunition (California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin).
  • All domestic violence protective orders require law enforcement to seize all firearms and ammunition in the abuser’s possession, or under his or her ownership or control (Illinois, Massachusetts).
  • Law enforcement responding to a domestic violence incident are required to remove all firearms and ammunition in the abuser’s possession, or under his or her ownership or control (New Hampshire).
  • Firearms seized at the scene of a domestic violence incident must be permanently given to law enforcement, sold at public auction, or destroyed (Ohio).
Notes
  1. See Center for American Progress, Preventing Domestic Abusers and Stalkers from Accessing Guns (May 9, 2013) at http://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/GunsStalkersBrief-3.pdf. ⤴︎
  2. Linda E. Saltzman, et al., Weapon Involvement and Injury Outcomes in Family and Intimate Assaults, 267 JAMA, 3043-3047 (1992). ⤴︎
  3. Jacquelyn C. Campbell et al., Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results from a Multisite Case Control Study, 93 Am. J. Pub. Health 1089, 1092 (July 2003). ⤴︎
  4. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008, 20 (Nov. 2011), at http://bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/htus8008.pdf. ⤴︎
  5. Violence Policy Center, When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2011 Homicide Data 6, (September 2013) at http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2013.pdf. ⤴︎
  6. Everytown for Gun Safety, Analysis of Recent Mass Shootings 3 (July 2014), at http://3gbwir1ummda16xrhf4do9d21bsx.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/analysis-of-recent-mass-shootings.pdf. ⤴︎
  7. Susan B. Sorenson et al., Weapons in the Lives of Battered Women, 94 Am. J. Pub. Health 1412, 1413 (2004). ⤴︎
  8. Id. at 1414. ⤴︎
  9. 18 U.S.C. § (g)(8), (9). ⤴︎
  10. Homicide Trends in the U.S, supra note 4, at 19. ⤴︎
  11. Katherine A. Vittes et al., Are Temporary Restraining Orders More Likely to be Issued When Application Mention Firearms?, 30 Evaluation Rev. 266, 271, 275 (2006). Applications for protective orders were also more likely to mention firearms when the parties had not lived together and were not married. ⤴︎
  12. Homicide Trends in the U.S, supra note 4, at 21. ⤴︎
  13. Center for American Progress, Women Under the Gun:  How Gun Violence Affects Women and 4 Policy Solutions to Better Protect Them 12-15 (July 2014), at http://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/GunsDomesticViolence2.pdf. ⤴︎
  14. Center for American Progress, Preventing Domestic Abusers and Stalkers from Accessing Guns 6, 10-11 (May 2013), at http://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/GunsStalkersBrief-3.pdf. ⤴︎
  15. Michael Luo, “In Some States, Gun Rights Trump Orders of Protection,” The New York Times, March 17, 2013, at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/18/us/facing-protective-orders-and-allowed-to-keep-guns.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0. ⤴︎
  16. Whether a crime falls within the federal definition of “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,” depends on the offender’s relationship with the victim and whether the state was required to prove that the offender used or threatened to use “physical force” within the meaning of the federal law. For a discussion of these legal issues, see U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Information Needed to Enforce the Federal Prohibition Misdemeanor Crimes of Domestic Violence (Nov. 2007), at http://www.ncdsv.org/images/MCDV_Info%20needed%20to%20enforce%20the%20firearm%20prohibition.pdf. ⤴︎
  17. Everytown for Gun Safety, Background Checks Reduce Gun Violence and Save Lives, at https://everytownresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Background-Check-FactSheet_011317_5.pdf. ⤴︎
  18. April M. Zeoli et al., Effects of Domestic Violence Policies, Alcohol Taxes, and Police Staffing Levels on Intimate Partner Homicide in Large US Cities, 16 Inj. Prev. 90 (2010). See also Elizabeth R. Vigdor et al., Do Laws Restricting Access to Firearms by Domestic Violence Offenders Prevent Intimate Partner Homicide?, 30 Evaluation Rev. 313, 332 (June 2006). ⤴︎
  19. Susan B. Sorenson, Taking Guns from Batterers: Public Support and Policy Implications, 30 Evaluation Review 361, 369 (2006). ⤴︎
  20. Colleen L. Barry et al., Perspective:  After Newtown — Public Opinion on Gun Policy and Mental Illness, 368 New Eng. J. Med. 1077-1081 (March 21, 2013) at http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1300512?query=featured_home&&. ⤴︎
  21. 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8), (9). ⤴︎
  22. 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(33). ⤴︎
  23. Id. Also note that the offender must have been represented by counsel or waived the right to counsel and must have been tried by a jury or waived the right to a jury, if the offense entitled the offender to a jury trial. ⤴︎
  24. Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Federal Denials, November 30, 1998 –July 31, 2014,” at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/reports/denials073114.pdf. ⤴︎
  25. Id. ⤴︎
  26. 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8). ⤴︎
  27. 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(32). The order must also contain a finding that the person presents a credible threat to the victim or restrain him or her from certain specified conduct. 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8). Most state laws require these elements for the issuance of a protective order. ⤴︎
  28. Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Federal Denials, November 30, 1998 –July 31, 2014,” at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/reports/denials073114.pdf. ⤴︎
  29. Katherine A. Vittes et al., Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Abusers: Handgun Purchases and Restraining Orders, 98 Am. J. Public Health 828 (May 2008), at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2374807/. ⤴︎
  30. 42 U.S.C. § 3796gg-4. ⤴︎
  31. Note that federal law does not require background checks on ammunition purchasers. For more information on laws governing the transfer of ammunition, see our summary on Ammunition Regulations. ⤴︎
  32. Cal. Penal Code §§ 29805, 30305. ⤴︎
  33. California also authorizes courts to prohibit defendants from purchasing or possessing firearms in cases where the defendant is charged with, but not yet convicted of, a domestic violence misdemeanor. Cal. Penal Code § 136.2(a)(7)(B), (d), (e). ⤴︎
  34. The Law Center is also aware of the following laws that require courts to provide domestic violence misdemeanants notice of the federal law prohibiting firearm possession, but which do not prohibit firearm possession by these individuals, or require them to surrender firearms already in their possession. Ark. Code § 5-26-313; S.C. Code Ann. §§ 16-25-20, 16-25-65, 16-25-30. ⤴︎
  35. Ala. Code § 13A-11-72(a). ⤴︎
  36. Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-1-1001(3)(c), 18-12-108(6)(c)(I), 18-6-801(8). ⤴︎
  37. Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 901(12); tit. 11, § 1448(a)(7), (d). ⤴︎
  38. The District of Columbia prohibits anyone convicted of an “[i]ntrafamily offense” from registering a firearm for five years following the conviction. All firearms in the District must be registered. D.C. Code Ann. 7-2502.03(a)(4)(D). ⤴︎
  39. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/2(a)(1), (2), 65/8(k), (l); 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/12-3.2; 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/112A-3. ⤴︎
  40. Ind. Code §§ 35-47-2-1(c); 35-47-4-6. ⤴︎
  41. Iowa Code §§ 236.2, 708.1, 708.2A, 708.11, 724.15(1), 724.26. ⤴︎
  42. La. Rev. Stat. § 14:95.10 (as reenacted by 2014 La. H.B. 753)(signed by Governor May 22, 2014). ⤴︎
  43. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 129B(1)(i)(F). ⤴︎
  44. Me. Stat., tit. 15, § 393(1-B). ⤴︎
  45. Minn. Stat. §§ 609.2242, 624.713, subd. 1. ⤴︎
  46. Nebraska prohibits firearm possession by domestic violence misdemeanants for seven years following conviction. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-1206(1)(b), (4)(a). ⤴︎
  47. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 202.360(1)(a). ⤴︎
  48. N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C:25-19(a), (d), 2C:25-26(a), 2C:39-7(b), 2C:58-3(c)(1). ⤴︎
  49. Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.255(1)(b). ⤴︎
  50. 18 Pa. C. S. § 6105(c)(9). ⤴︎
  51. S.D. Codified Laws § 22-14-15.2. ⤴︎
  52. S.C. Code Ann. § 16-25-30(A). ⤴︎
  53. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-111(a), (b), (c)(6), 39-17-1307(f)(1)(A). ⤴︎
  54. Texas prohibits firearm possession by domestic violence misdemeanants for five years following release from confinement or community supervision. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 71.001 et seq.; Tex. Penal Code Ann. §§ 22.01, 46.04(b). ⤴︎
  55. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, §§ 4017(a), (d)(3)(A)(i), 5301(7)(C), 1042; see also, Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 1. ⤴︎
  56. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 9.41.010, 9.41.040(2)(a)(i), 10.99.020(3). ⤴︎
  57. W. Va. Code § 61-7-7(a)(8). ⤴︎
  58. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/2(a)(1), (2), 65/8(l); 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/12-3.2(a)(1), (2), 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/112A-3. ⤴︎
  59. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/2(a)(1), (2), 65/8(k). ⤴︎
  60. Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-1-1001(3)(c), 18-12-108(6)(c)(I), 18-6-801(8). ⤴︎
  61. 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/5-6-3(a)(9). ⤴︎
  62. Iowa Code §§ 236.2, 708.1, 708.2A, 708.11, 724.15(1), 724.26. ⤴︎
  63. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 129B(4), 129D. ⤴︎
  64. Minn. Stat. § 609.2242, subd. 3. ⤴︎
  65. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:25-27(c)(1), effective August 1, 2017. ⤴︎
  66. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-111(c)(6), 39-17-1307(f)(1)(A). ⤴︎
  67. Iowa Code § 724.26(4). ⤴︎
  68. N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law §§ 370.15, 380.97. ⤴︎
  69. 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/112A-11.1, 5/112A-11.2. ⤴︎
  70. Minn. Stat. § 624.713, subd. 5. ⤴︎
  71. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 265, § 13N; see also Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 209A, § 3D. ⤴︎
  72. Some additional states require courts to provide protective order defendants notice of the federal law prohibiting firearm possession, but do not prohibit firearm possession by these individuals, or require them to surrender firearms already in their possession.  See, e.g., Ark. Code § 9-15-207(b)(3). ⤴︎
  73. Alaska Stat. §§ 18.66.100(c)(6), (7), 18.66.990(3), (5). ⤴︎
  74. Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-3601, 13-3602(G)(4), 13-3624(D)(4). ⤴︎
  75. Cal. Penal Code §§ 136.2, 1524(a)(11), 18250, 29825(d), 30305; Cal. Civ. Proc. Code §§ 527.6(t), 527.9; Cal. Fam. Code §§ 6211, 6218, 6304, 6306(a),  6389. ⤴︎
  76. Colo. Rev. Stat. §§  13-14-105, 13-14-105.5, 18-1-1001(9), 18-6-803.5(c)(I). ⤴︎
  77. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 29-36f(b), 29-36k, 46b-15, 46b-38a, 53a-217, 53a-217c. ⤴︎
  78. Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, §§ 1041(2), 1043(e), 1045(a)(8); tit. 11, § 1448(a)(6). ⤴︎
  79. D.C. Code Ann. §§ 7-2501.01(9B), 7-2502.03(a)(12), 7-2506.01, 16-1001(6)-(9), 16-1005(c)(10). ⤴︎
  80. Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 741.28, 741.30(1)(e), (6)(g), 741.31(4), 790.233. ⤴︎
  81. Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 134-7(f), 586-1, 586-3. ⤴︎
  82. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/2(a)(1), (2), 65/8.2; 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/112A-3, 5/112A-14(b)(14.5); 750 Ill. Comp. Stat. 60/201, 60/214(b)(14.5), 60/217(a)(3)(i). ⤴︎
  83. Ind. Code Ann. §§ 31-9-2-42, 31-9-2-44.5, 34-26-5-2, 34-26-5-9(c)(4), (f). ⤴︎
  84. Iowa Code §§ 236.2(2), (4), 236.5(1)(b)(2), 724.26(2), (4). ⤴︎
  85. La. Rev. Stat. § 46:2136.3 (as reenacted by 2014 La. H.B. 753)(signed by Governor May 22, 2014). ⤴︎
  86. Maine Rev. Stat. tit. 15, § 393(1)(D), tit. 19-A, § 4007(1)(A-1). ⤴︎
  87. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law §§ 4-501, 4-506; Pub. Safety § 5-133(b)(12). ⤴︎
  88. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, §§ 129B(1)(viii), 129C, 131(d)(vi); ch. 209A. ⤴︎
  89. Mich. Comp. Laws §§ 28.422(3)(a)(iii)-(v), 600.2950(1)(e), (12), 600.2950a(3)(c), (26). ⤴︎
  90. Minn. Stat. §§ 260C.201, subd. 3, 518B.01, subd. 6,  624.713, subd. 1. ⤴︎
  91. Mont. Code Ann. §§ 40-15-102(2)(a), 40-15-103(6), 40-15-201(f). ⤴︎
  92. Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 28-1206(1)(a), (4)(b), 42-903, 42-924. ⤴︎
  93. Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 33.018, 33.020, 33.031, 33.033. ⤴︎
  94. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 173-B:1, 173-B:4, 173-B:5. ⤴︎
  95. N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C:25-19, 2C:25-28(f), (j), 2C:25-29(b), 2C:39-7(b)(3), 2C:58-3(c)(6). ⤴︎
  96. N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law §§ 530.11, 530.12, 530.14; N.Y. Fam. Ct. Act §§ 812, 822, 828(3), 842-a; N.Y. Penal Code § 400.00. ⤴︎
  97. N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 50B-1, 50B-3(11), 50B-3.1. ⤴︎
  98. N.D. Cent. Code §§ 14-07.1-01, 14-07.1-02, 14-07.1-03. ⤴︎
  99. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6105; 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 6102, 6107 – 6108.3. ⤴︎
  100. R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 15-15-1, 15-15-3. ⤴︎
  101. S.D. Codified Laws § 25-10-24. ⤴︎
  102. Tenn. Code §§ 36-3-625, 39-13-113, 39-17-1307(f)(1). ⤴︎
  103. Tex. Penal Code Ann. §§ 25.07, 46.04; Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §§ 71.001 et seq., 85.022(b)(6), (d); Tex. Crim. Proc. Code Ann. art. 17.292(c)(4). ⤴︎
  104. Utah Code Ann. §§ 78B-7-102.78B-7-106(2)(d), 78B-7-107(2), 78B-7-402(3), 78B-7-404(3)(b),(5). ⤴︎
  105. Va. Code Ann. §§ 16.1-228, 16.1-253.1, 16.1-253.4, 16.1-279.1, 18.2-308.09, 18.2-308.1:4, 18.2-308.2:2. ⤴︎
  106. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 9.41.800, 10.99.040, 26.50.010, 26.50.070. 2014 Wa. ALS 111 (effective June 2014). ⤴︎
  107. W. Va. Code §§ 48-27-204, 48-27-305, 48-27-403(a), 48-27-502(b), 61-7-7(a)(7). ⤴︎
  108. Wis. Stat. §§ 813.12(1)(am), (b), (c), (4m), 941.29(1)(f), (g), (2)(d), (e). ⤴︎
  109. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 209A, § 3B. ⤴︎
  110. State laws may also prohibit firearm purchase or possession by people subject to anti-stalking protective orders that do not depend on the relationship between the offender and the victim. These laws are not discussed here. ⤴︎
  111. Cal. Penal Code §§ 136.2, 1524(a)(11), 18250, 29825(d), 30305; Cal. Civ. Proc. Code §§ 527.6(t), 527.9; Cal. Fam. Code §§ 6211, 6218, 6304, 6306(a), 6320-6322, 6389. ⤴︎
  112. Cal. Penal Code § 29825(d); Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 527.9(d); Cal. Fam. Code §§ 6209 – 6211. ⤴︎
  113. Some states also authorize issuance of protective orders that require the abuser to surrender his or her firearms license or to direct law enforcement to remove a firearms license from the abuser. For example, North Carolina requires a judge issuing a domestic violence protective order to direct the abuser to surrender all permits to purchase firearms and permits to carry concealed firearms if certain conditions exist. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50B-3.1. ⤴︎
  114. Illinois, for example, requires the abuser to turn over his or her firearms to law enforcement. 750 Ill. Comp. Stat. 60/214. California requires the abuser either to surrender his or her firearms to law enforcement or to sell those firearms to a licensed gun dealer. Cal. Fam. Code § 6389. ⤴︎
  115. See, e.g., 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §§ 6108-6108.3. ⤴︎
  116. N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C:25-28(j), effective August 1, 2017; 2C:25-29(b), effective August 1, 2017. ⤴︎
  117. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 209A, § 3B. In Massachusetts, when law enforcement serves a domestic violence protective order, law enforcement must immediately take possession of all firearms and ammunition in the abuser’s possession, or under his or her ownership or control. ⤴︎
  118. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 134-7(f). In Hawaii, upon service of a domestic violence restraining order, the police officer may take custody of any firearms and ammunition in plain sight, discovered pursuant to a consensual search, or surrendered by the person. If the police officer is unable to locate firearms or ammunition registered to that person or known to the victim, the police officer must apply to the court for a search warrant for the purpose of seizing firearms and ammunition. ⤴︎
  119. N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C:25-28(j), effective August 1, 2017; 2C:25-29(b), effective August 1, 2017. ⤴︎
  120. 750 Ill. Comp. Stat. 60/214. In Illinois, when a court issues a domestic violence protective order that triggers the federal firearms prohibition, the court must also issue a warrant for seizure of any firearms in the abuser’s possession. ⤴︎
  121. For relevant citations, see the section entitled “States that Authorize or Require Courts to Prohibit Subjects of Protective Orders from Buying or Possessing Firearms,” above. ⤴︎
  122. N.Y. Fam. Ct. Act § 842-a. Note that the federal prohibition on firearm possession may still apply even if a state (like New York) does not require the surrender of firearms by domestic abusers in all circumstances. ⤴︎
  123. Note that the federal prohibition on firearm possession may apply even if the court has not chosen to order the abuser to surrender firearms. ⤴︎
  124. 2014 Vt. H.B. 735. ⤴︎
  125. Cal. Penal Code §§ 18250-18500, 33850-33895. ⤴︎
  126. Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 134-7.5, 709-906. ⤴︎
  127. 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/112A-30(a)(2), 750 Ill. Comp. Stat. 60/304(a)(2). ⤴︎
  128. Mont. Code Ann. § 46-6-603. ⤴︎
  129. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 29-440. ⤴︎
  130. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 173-B:10. ⤴︎
  131. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:25-21(d). ⤴︎
  132. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 2935.03(B)(3)(h), 2981.12(A)(2). ⤴︎
  133. Okla. Stat. tit. 22, § 60.8. ⤴︎
  134. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2711. ⤴︎
  135. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 36-3-620, 39-17-1317. ⤴︎
  136. Utah Code Ann. § 77-36-2.1(1)(b). ⤴︎
  137. W. Va. Code § 48-27-1002. ⤴︎
  138. Alaska Stat. § 18.65.515(b). ⤴︎
  139. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3601. ⤴︎
  140. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-38b(a). ⤴︎
  141. Ind. Code Ann. § 35-33-1-1.5. ⤴︎
  142. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-511. ⤴︎
  143. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 173-B:10. ⤴︎
  144. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-38b(a). ⤴︎
  145. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:25-21(d). ⤴︎
  146. Cal. Penal Code §§ 18250-18500, 33850-33895. ⤴︎
  147. Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 134-7.5, 709-906. ⤴︎
  148. Okla. Stat. tit. 22, § 60.8. ⤴︎
  149. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 2935.03(B)(3)(h), 2981.12(A)(2). ⤴︎
  150. 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/112A-30(a)(2), 750 Ill. Comp. Stat. 60/304(a)(2); Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-511. ⤴︎
  151. New Jersey gives the prosecutor 45 days in which to petition for title of a firearm seized at a domestic violence scene. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:25-21(d). ⤴︎
  152. Arizona requires firearms seized at a domestic violence scene to be held by law enforcement for at least 72 hours, and up to 6 months, if a court finds that return of the firearm may endanger the victim. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3601. ⤴︎