Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Information for Professionals

Criminal Justice

Overview of the Issue

Removal of Firearms - An Overview

New York State and federal statutes address the issue of access to firearms within the context of domestic violence. These laws reflect the recognition that firearms are a serious threat to the safety of domestic violence victims, and access to firearms by domestic violence offenders should be prohibited. These laws are based on the idea that access should be denied where the use or attempted use of physical force or the threatened use of a deadly weapon is a factor in the issuance of an order of protection or when the offender has been convicted of certain offenses.

NYS laws provide for permissive and mandatory (depending on the circumstances of the case) suspension or revocation of a license for a firearm. The underlying rationale for these laws is that the court hearing the matter is in the best position to evaluate the facts and circumstances, and make a prompt determination whether to suspend or revoke a license.

Criminal Procedure Law §530.14 and Family Court Act §842-a operate together with Penal Law §400.00 et seq., the primary licensing statute, to grant a criminal or family court the power to immediately suspend or revoke, under certain circumstances, a firearms license when a temporary or final order of protection is issued pursuant to C.P.L. §530.12 (protection for victims of family offenses) and C.P.L. §530.13 (protection for victims of crimes, other than family offenses) and F.C.A. §828 and §841 (family offense proceedings).

In 1994 and 1996 the United States Congress enacted 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8)&(9), which prohibit the sale of a firearm to, or possession by, certain offenders. These are people who, under specific circumstances, are the subject of a valid state court order of protection, or who have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. These statutes apply even if state laws are more lenient.