Removing Firearms From Those Prohibited From Possession by Domestic Violence Restraining Orders: A Survey and Analysis of State Laws

Zeoli, A. M., Frattaroli, S., Roskam, K., & Herrera, A. K. (2019). Removing firearms from those prohibited from possession by domestic violence restraining orders: A survey and analysis of state laws. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse20(1), 114-125.


Under federal and many state laws, persons under domestic violence restraining orders (DVROs) are prohibited from possession of firearms. Using multiple sources and a Lexis Nexis search, we developed a list of state laws pertaining to the relinquishment or removal of firearms from persons prohibited from possession by DVROs. After downloading the text of each law, we conducted a legal analysis to enumerate provisions of the laws specifying implementation. We found 49 laws in 29 states and Washington, DC. The laws were conceptualized as instructions to the court, the respondent, and law enforcement. We detail the content of each state’s law, including such elements as whether it applies to ex parte DVROs; whether certain criteria must be met, such as previous use of a firearm in domestic violence or lack of an employment exemption, before the law can be applied; and whether the application of the law is mandatory. We also detail instructions to the respondent regarding to whom firearms may be relinquished, whether the respondent must seek permission to transfer the firearm to a third party, and the time by which dispossession must occur. Finally, whether law enforcement bears the responsibility for removing the firearm or whether the law gives the court the authority to order a search and seizure for the firearms is discussed. The purpose of the research is to provide an overview of these state laws that can be used by key stakeholders in legislative, judicial, advocacy, or research roles. Implications are discussed.


Keywords: cultural contexts; domestic violence; intervention/treatment; legal intervention