Restraining Orders & Firearms Licensing in Massachusetts

If a G.L. c. 209A abuse prevention order has been issued against you, or your are the subject of a similar order issued by another jurisdiction, you are statutorily disqualified from holding or being issued a Firearms Identification Card (FID) or License to Carry Firearms (LTC) in Massachusetts.

If you have a Firearms Identification Card, once the G.L. c. 209A restraining order is lifted, you are entitled to have your FID card reinstated and your rifles and shotguns returned to you. This is because a Licensing Authority cannot deny you a FID card based on “suitability.”

A restraining order issued by the Probate & Family Court pursuant to G.L. c. 208 will not result in the suspension of your FID and such an order will not prevent you from being issued one. However, when it comes to a License to Carry Firearms (LTC), a Licensing Authority could deny your application or revoke your LTC based on suitability, because you were issued a G.L. c. 208 order.

Once you surrender your firearms, rifles, and shotguns to the police pursuant to an abuse prevention order, they can only released to a firearms licensed dealer, (FFL holder)  and directly to another private  individual who has a Firearms Identification Card (FID) or License to Carry Firearms (LTC).  G.L. c. 209A Section 3B requires that firearms be transferred from the police to either a FFL holder or a bonded warehouse. Private transfers are prohibited.

When an abuse prevention order is vacated or expires, your FID card must be reinstated and your LTC can be reinstated, depending what the Chief of Police or licensing authority decides. If facts and circumstances set forth in the affidavit relied upon to get the abuse prevention order raise suitability concerns, the police may refuse to reinstate your License to Carry Firearms due to an alleged lack of suitability. If this happens, you can file a Petition for Judicial Review in the District Court.

Of course, independent of any restraining order, a domestic abuse conviction will result in the suspension of your LTC on statutory grounds.

Firearms, rifles, and shotguns must be surrendered to police and the license or FID suspended whether the restraining order is temporary, permanent, or an emergency restraining order. These orders are issued when the applicant can demonstrate to a judge’s satisfaction that there is a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse.

Not every firearm in the home must be surrendered when the police serve a restraining order. Only those weapons over which the defendant has possession or control must be surrendered. If there are multiple licensed individuals residing in the home, other gun owners not named as defendants in the restraining order can be allowed to retain their weapons, so long as the defendant does not have access to them.

In addition to the Massachusetts laws which prevent those with restraining orders from possessing firearms, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 further prevents the possession of firearms by those with restraining or abuse prevention orders.