Firearms and Domestic Violence

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

The Violence Against Women Act or VAWA was passed in 1994. This Act makes it illegal for persons convicted of any domestic violence incident or against whom an order of protection has been passed to possess a firearm. This law specifically prohibits the transporting, shipping, receiving or possessing firearms. There is no exemption for members of the armed forces or law enforcement personnel. If you have any questions on VAWA, contact your local office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

Restraining Orders

The federal law prohibits a person against who there is a restraining order against stalking, harassing or threatening an intimate partner or the partner’s child from possessing a firearm. The transfer of firearms to such persons is also prohibited.

Domestic Violence Convictions

In 1996 the law was changed. Since then anyone who is convicted of domestic violence offense (misdemeanor or felony) cannot possess a firearm. The law is also applicable to those convicted prior to 1996. Under the Gun Control Act, anyone who is convicted of a domestic assault (misdemeanor) or subject to an order of protection cannot possess a firearm.

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