How Domestic Violence Affects Gun Ownership In Arizona


Being convicted of a number of crimes causes the temporary or permanent restriction of your civil liberties. Arizona takes the suspension of firearm ownership very seriously when an individual has been convicted of a violent offense. Abiding by the terms of a sentence and completing it can lead to the restoration of the right to own a gun in Tucson.

How Arizona Defines Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is any number of crimes committed against individuals sharing a household, regardless of the relationship of these persons. It applies to family members, roommates, or intimate partners who live under the same roof. Not all crimes that fall under the umbrella of domestic violence involve physical assault. For example, disorderly conduct and criminal trespass can be considered domestic violence.

What Is Kaity’s Law?

Kaity’s Law provides exceptions to typical domestic violence scenarios. It extends domestic violence circumstances and protections to include individuals who were previously romantically or sexually involved. Individuals who have only one on one or two dates may not be subject to Kaity’s Law. Crimes committed between individuals who meet the Kaity’s Law criteria may be considered domestic violence, even if the individuals don’t share a household.

Firearms And Protective Orders

Arizona courts will seek to determine if an individual against whom an order of protection is applied for can reasonably deemed a credible threat to other individuals – particularly the person or persons involved in a domestic violence case. And, being charged with a domestic violence related offense automatically revokes your gun rights – at least temporarily.

The Court’s evaluation is often made under emergency circumstances, called an ex parteemergency order of protection. Individuals who are deemed to be highly threatening to their accuser, especially if there is reason to believe that the person may injure or murder this person, are subject to immediate action. The court can prevent this individual from purchasing or possessing a firearm while the emergency order is in place immediately upon service of process.

Federal Law On Firearms And Domestic Violence

Federal law forbids certain individuals convicted of domestic violence related offenses from purchasing or possessing ammunition or firearms. Federal law also extends to people involved in certain protective orders relating to pending domestic violence related charges. It does not encompass ex parteorders issued by the state of Arizona – this is a state practice, rather than a federal practice.

When You Need To Surrender Firearms

When an official protective order is issued by the court, the court may prohibit the individual from possessing a firearm as a part of that order. The court will request that the defendant within 24 hours surrender any firearms in his or her possession. This restriction lasts until the protective order officially ends.

Failing to surrender firearms will then be a direct violation of a court order – and a separate criminal charge. Keeping the guns and ignoring the order will only serve to complicate the case with additional criminal charges – possibly even felony prohibited possessor charges. Failing to surrender guns also makes it difficult to appeal or defend domestic violence cases, as it reflects negatively on the defendant.

The Legal Seizure Of Firearms

Guns can be removed by Arizona officers if they’re encountered during a domestic violence call. If it is reported that there is a firearm in the household and the officer can either plainly see where it’s located or finds it during a search that the individuals consented to, the officer can at least temorarily remove the weapon to neutralize the situation. This only applies if the officer has a reason to believe the firearm may be used to put another individual in physical jeopardy.

When this happens, the officer seizes the firearm and gives the owner an official receipt. The receipt will list the serial number of the gun, as well as a physical description of the firearm seized. The law enforcement agency that receives the seized gun will hold it for a minimum of 72 hours, but may retain the firearm as a result of an emergency protective order, or if the firearm is believed to be evidence in an active case.

Restoring The Right To Own A Firearm After A Conviction

If the gun was temporarily seized to satisfy the requirements of an investigation or the terms of a protective order, the gun will be returned when a conclusion is reached. If a domestic violence conviction prevents someone from being able to own a firearm, that individual’s rights will need to be restored. This can happen after all terms of the sentence (including any necessary fines or payments and the duration of probation) have been met. But it is normally not automatic.

What To Do When You’ve Been Charged With Domestic Violence

If you’ve been charged with a domestic violence related offense, you need the help of an experienced attorney. Contact Tucson based lawyer Doug Taylor today for a free consultation. We will be able to defend you against domestic violence related charges, and/or help you restore your gun rights post-conviction.