Can My Ex Still Have a Gun If I File a Personal Protection Order?

In certain circumstances, it may be illegal for an abuser to own a gun after you have filed a Washington state protection order. However, this depends on the level of legal action you have taken against your ex, if he has been charged with domestic violence before, or if he has a criminal record.

Gun Rules for Civil Protection Orders in Washington State

Under Washington law, the court may order a person to surrender a firearm to law enforcement if the court has convincing evidence that an assailant had used, displayed, or threatened another person with a deadly weapon. State law may also prevent the attacker from applying for gun ownership or possessing a firearm in the future.

Federal Firearms Rules Prohibiting an Attacker from Owning a Gun

No person who is under a current court order to prohibit stalking, threatening, or harassment of an intimate partner may possess a firearm as long as the protection order continues, provided that:

  • The protection order was approved after a court hearing in which the defendant had notice and opportunity to appear (the defendant does not need to appear at the hearing, but must have been notified of the date and time).
  • The court was presented with specific evidence that the defendant poses a credible threat to the victim’s safety or the safety of the victim’s children.
  • The order must contain explicit language prohibiting the person from using, attempting, or threatening physical force against an intimate partner, child, or family member.

Can I Make the CPO Permanent?

After the temporary CPO expires, the victim may apply for a permanent protection order. This will likely be granted if the court rules that the assailant is likely to resume violent acts against the petitioner. Most permanent protection orders will include both state and federal prohibition laws, making the penalties more severe if the order is violated.

You can ask an attorney to prepare a civil protection order on your behalf. Fill out the short contact form above with all of your questions, and we will contact you privately to discuss your options.

Molly B. Kenny
Founder and Principal Divorce Attorney
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