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209A Restraining Orders and The Suspension of Firearms and Firearm Licenses

Some people argue that the most onerous aspect of the Massachusetts restraining order statute is the requirement that firearms be surrendered.  Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 209A Section 3B states that once a restraining order issues the defendant must immediately surrender all firearms.  The law also requires the defendant to surrender all firearm licenses.  Those licenses are automatically suspended as well.  The defendant is notified of this consequence by the judge orally and in writing.  The weapons are to be surrendered to the licensing authority where the defendant lives.  Alternatively, the officer who serves the defendant with the 209A Order can take possession of the firearms at the time of service.  

Are There Consequences If Someone Does Not Surrender His Guns?

Yes there are.  The failure to surrender firearms or firearms licenses itself constitutes a violation of the restraining order.  This subjects the defendant to a misdemeanor criminal prosecution.  A conviction can result in two and one half years in the house of correction and a fine of up to five thousand dollars.  This is one portion of the restraining order the people regularly overlook.  However, if someone finds out about this you will be prosecuted.

Can I Challenge the Order Suspending My Right to Carry and Possess Firearms?

You absolutely can.  There is a provision in the law that allows you to petition the judge who issued the order to reconsider his or her decision. You can also challenge the suspension at your initial restraining order hearing.  To do this you must file an affidavit that shows that possessing the weapon is necessary in the performance of your occupational duties.  There is also a provision in the law that permits you to expedite this hearing process.

What Are My Chances of Getting My Guns Back?

I am asked this question with just about every restraining order case I handle that involves firearms.  The likelihood of getting firearms back with a pending 209A order depends on several factors.  Was there a physical assault that accompanied the application for the RO.  In other words, is there a pending criminal case here?  How strong was the affidavit in support of the issuance of the restraining order?  The more egregious the facts the less likely you are going to get your guns back…at least initially.  Who is the judge hearing the case?  This is always a wildcard.  Most judges are reluctant to permitting you to keep your weapons.  They are concerned not just about the danger to the plaintiff but also about getting their name in the paper under adverse circumstances.  More likely than not, if they issue a restraining order against you they are going to take your guns.  This is true even when the defendant is a police officer.

Massachusetts Restraining Order and Firearm Possession Defense

I have been defending people in Massachusetts for nearly thirty years.  I have won countless restraining order cases and gun cases.  Hiring the right lawyer is the most important decision you are going to make if you have to defend criminal charges or even if you want to avoid having a restraining order issue against you.  If you need help call me right away.  I can help you.