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Does domestic violence affect firearm ownership?

Accusations of domestic violence often stem from stories of abuse in a relationship. Many cases of domestic violence involve a spouse abusing the other spouse or a romantic partner abusing the other romantic partner. Children and other cohabitants and family members may also become the victims of domestic violence.

Under various laws, including the federal Gun Control Act of 1968 and the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, it is illegal for those convicted of domestic violence and/or who have orders of protection out against them to possess firearms in certain situations. VAWA also makes it a domestic violence misdemeanor when an abuser uses or attempts to use a deadly weapon against his or her victim. Interestingly, even if the person convicted of domestic violence is employed in law enforcement or the military, he or she may not carry a weapon -- even if it is a part of his or her job duties to do so.

If you are subjected to a restraining order related to a family member or intimate partner, you are also prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law. Those who fear that an individual they have secured a restraining order for is in possession of a firearm can contact authorities. However, certain restrictions will apply. For example, the person must have been notified of the restraining order and the hearing related to the restraining order. The alleged abuser also has to be an ex-spouse or a current spouse, the father or mother of a mutual child, or a current or former cohabitant.

Other restrictions will also apply in order for the gun ban to go into effect. For example, the restraining order has to identify the person as a threat to the alleged victim's physical safety. The order must also prohibit threatening behavior that creates a fear for one's physical safety. Finally, unlike a domestic violence conviction, a restraining order firearm ban will not apply to members of law enforcement, government employment that requires guns or the military.

Any Connecticut gun owners who have been convicted of domestic violence and/or have restraining orders out against them, should speak with an attorney immediately to find out how the order and/or conviction affects their right to bear arms.

Source: FindLaw, "Domestic violence: Firearms" accessed Jan. 16, 2015

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