New Maryland Gun Laws Impact Protective Orders and Victims of Domestic Abuse

New gun laws, which went into effect on October 1st, 2018, will have a direct impact on victims of domestic abuse and those who file a protective or peace order against a spouse. Here, the family law attorneys at Rodier Family Law discuss these new laws, including Extreme Risk Protective Orders (ERPO), and the potential impacts they will have.

Laws Regarding Firearm Possession, Domestic Abuse and the “Red Flag Law”

Several new gun laws went into effect on October 1st, 2018; two of which will impact victims of domestic abuse and individuals who file a protective order against a spouse. One of these laws requires convicted domestic abusers to surrender any firearms they possess to a law enforcement official or a registered firearms dealer. Although laws were already in place banning domestic abusers from owning firearms, the law did not specify whether previously owned firearms had to be revoked. The new law specifically accounts for previously owned firearms. Those convicted of domestic abuse have two days to voluntarily surrender any firearms they own to a law enforcement official or registered firearms dealer.

The Extreme Risk Protective Order Act, known as the “red flag law,” also went into effect on October 1st. This act allows a petitioner to request a court-issued civil order that temporarily mandates an individual to surrender their firearms as well as their right to purchase additional firearms or ammunition. Eligible individuals who can request this order include:

  • spouses;
  • cohabitants;
  • relatives by blood, marriage, or adoption;
  • persons with child(ren) in common;
  • current dating or intimate partners;
  • current or former legal guardians;
  • law enforcement officers; or
  • medical professionals who have examined the respondent (individual against whom the petition is filed) which includes physicians, psychologists, clinical social workers, licensed clinical professional counselors, clinical nurse specialists in psychiatric and mental health nursing, psychiatric nurse practitioners, licensed clinical marriage therapists, family therapists or health officers or designees of a health officer who have examined the individual.

In order for the court to issue an Extreme Risk Protective Order, or ERPO, the respondent must be found to exhibit several factors indicating a  risk. These include, but are not limited to, alarming behavior or statements, unlawful firearm possession, reckless or negligent firearm use, violence or threats of violence to self or others, violation of peace or protective orders, drug and/or alcohol abuse and information in health records that would indicate a threat to the respondent or others. A respondent, as well as a petitioner, may be a minor or adult. A petitioner can find the necessary documentation they are required to file here. For help filing these documents, a petitioner is recommended to consult a family law attorney, such as the attorneys at Rodier Family Law.

How Will the Red Flag Law Protect Victims of Domestic Abuse?

The red flag law serves as a tool which victims of domestic abuse can use in severe situations where they fear their abuser’s access to firearms may pose a threat to the victim’s safety. While an ERPO does not replace a peace or protective order, it can supplement such orders should an additional threat be likely. An ERPO is also valuable if an individual believes their spouse may be a threat to their own safety.

Speak to a Family Law Attorney at Rodier Family Law Immediately if You are a Victim of Domestic Abuse

The purpose of these new laws is to provide an additional way for domestic abuse victims and other concerned parties to seek judicial action against an individual who may be a threat to their own or other’s safety. There are a variety of resources available for individuals who have suffered domestic abuse, and individuals who seek a peace or protective order, as well as the newly established ERPOs, should consult a qualified family law attorney. The family law attorneys at Rodier Family Law stand by victims of domestic abuse and seek to provide legal assistance to domestic abuse victims. If you or a loved one has been the victim of domestic abuse and wish to learn more about peace and protective orders or ERPOs, contact Rodier Family Law immediately.