G.L. c. 209A Restraining Orders & Your License to Carry Firearms

Having a restraining order placed against you temporarily suspends your gun rights until the order is removed. To understand fully why your gun rights are suspended due to an active restraining order, you first must understand what a restraining order is.

A restraining order is a legal order issued by a state court that requires one person to stop harming another. The person seeking to stop the harm is acting as a plaintiff and the person being asked to stop the harm is named as a defendant. When a plaintiff files a restraining order complaint against a defendant, the court may enter a temporary order if it deems necessary to protect the person. In Massachusetts, a plaintiff will get a restraining order against someone, if the plaintiff can show that the defendant (1) Caused physical harm to the plaintiff, (2) Attempted to cause physical harm to the plaintiff, Placed plaintiff in fear, of imminent physical harm, or (3) caused the plaintiff to have sexual relations involuntarily by force, threat, or duress.

Further, the court may enter a temporary restraining order without notice to the defendant as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff from abuse and notify the defendant after the order was issued. In those cases, the plaintiff has demonstrated substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse by the defendant. If the court issues a temporary order against the defendant, the defendant must surrender all guns to the appropriate law enforcement officers and cannot buy any guns while the order is in place.

After the temporary order is placed, the defendant can petition the court to review the order no later than 10 court business days after the receipt of the notice. The court also reviews the suspension of the defendant’s license to carry firearms. The court does make an exception to the timing of the review for a defendant who needs a firearm as requirement for employment. In those cases, the defendant would need to file an affidavit and also ask for an expedited hearing which will take within two business days after the receipt of the affidavit.

Another way that a restraining order can affect your gun rights is after a 209A violation.  A violation of a restraining order is considered contempt of a court order and one of the possible penalties includes being charged with a misdemeanor crime. If you are convicted of violating the restraining order as a misdemeanor crime, you will lose your License to Carry Firearms and have to surrender your guns, if you are sentence to more than 2 years in the house of correction.

This article was written by By Marcus Dilloff and posted by Attorney Cohen.