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How a Restraining Order Affects Gun Ownership Rights

Dec. 6, 2021

A man holds a large gun outsideAccording to the 2018 California Safety and Wellbeing Survey (CSaWS), an estimated 4.2 million adults in California own a gun. Owning and possessing a gun in the State of California is legal. However, you may lose your gun ownership rights when facing domestic violence allegations or if a restraining order has been filed against you. A knowledgeable California domestic violence defense attorney can enlighten you about how a restraining order affects your ability to own or possess a gun in the state.

With more than 25 years of extensive experience, the Alec Rose Law Office is dedicated to guiding and representing clients in legal matters involving domestic violence and restraining orders. I’m available to discuss your unique circumstances and help you understand how a protective order affects your gun ownership rights. My firm is proud to serve clients in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Santa Barbara, and San Diego, California.

Restraining Orders in California

A restraining order, also known as a protective order, can be described as a legal order issued by a California state court to protect an alleged victim from being sexually or physically abused, threatened, harassed, or stalked. Once issued, a restraining order will order the alleged defendant – an accused person or abuser – to stay away from the victim’s home, workplace, school, or business.

Types of Restraining Orders

In California, a domestic violence restraining order may include:

Emergency Protective Order (EPO) – An emergency protective order may be issued if there are reasons to believe that a person needs protection from immediate and present danger of domestic violence.

Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) – A temporary restraining order may be issued when a judge believes a person is in immediate danger and needs protection before the court rules or hears their case.

Permanent Restraining Order (PRO) – A permanent restraining order may be issued after a hearing if the court believes that the person seeking protection is indeed in danger.

What Can a Protection Order Do?

A restraining order can do the following:

  • Order the abuser to stay away from the victim and their home, school, office, business, or workplace

  • Order the abuser to stop harassing, threatening, stalking, or committing any violent act towards the victim

  • Order the abuser to refrain from threatening, contacting, or intimidating the victim or any family or household member

  • Order the abuser to obey all court injunctions necessary for the victim’s protection and safety

Also, a restraining order may require the alleged defendant to relinquish their firearm or prohibit them from possessing or controlling any firearm for the duration of the order.

Can a Domestic Violence
Restraining Order Affect Your
Right to Own a Firearm?

Yes, a domestic violence restraining order will affect your right to own a firearm. Under California laws, a defendant subject to a domestic violence restraining order is prohibited from possessing, owning, receiving, purchasing, or attempting to purchase or receive a firearm, gun, or ammunition until the order has been lifted. However, there may be discrepancies between federal and California laws regarding gun rights.

Federal vs. State Gun Laws

According to the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, in a domestic violence situation, federal law prevails over California state law. Under federal laws, an abuser’s right to own, purchase, or possess a gun will be restricted for life once they have a final protection order issued against them for misdemeanor domestic violence.

Even if the judge does not specifically order the abuser to hand over any firearms in their possession or forbid them from buying firearms, they cannot have a gun until the restraining order is no longer in effect. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help preserve your gun rights by fighting your domestic violence charges or negotiating a plea bargain.

Using a Firearm for Your Job

If a protective order is issued against you, you may not be able to possess a gun. Such a restraining order may affect your job if it requires carrying a firearm. Luckily, there is an exception that allows individuals to use their work firearms even if there is a domestic violence restraining order against them.

The court may grant an exemption for a particular firearm if the defendant can show that the firearm is necessary as a condition of continued employment. If an exemption is granted, the firearm shall be in the physical possession of the defendant only during scheduled work hours and during travel to and from his or her place of employment.

To benefit from this exemption, your attorney must be able to argue diligently and convince the judge that a firearm exemption is required for you to retain your job. If successful, a mandatory psychological evaluation will be required for the exception to be granted.

How Skilled Advocacy Can Help

Having a protective order on your record can be devastating, and it can prevent you from owning and possessing a gun in California. Thankfully, fighting your domestic violence allegation or the restraining order can help restore your gun ownership rights and help you avoid other potential consequences. An experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate your unique situation and decide the best course of action.

At the Alec Rose Law Office, I have devoted my career to offering experienced legal services and strong representation to clients who are trying to oppose a restraining order. As your attorney, I can investigate all of the facts of your case and strategize a strong defense to pursue the best possible outcome for your unique situation. Using my in-depth legal understanding, I will help you navigate the California justice system. I will fight aggressively to oppose the unjust protective order that was filed against you and help restore your gun ownership rights.

Contact my firm today to schedule a simple case evaluation with an experienced restraining order defense attorney. I can offer you the detailed legal guidance, reliable advocacy, and vigorous representation you need to fight your charges. My firm is proud to represent clients in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Santa Barbara, and San Diego, California.