Firearm Prohibitions for Domestic Violence Misdemeanants
Tennessee prohibits the carrying or possession of a firearm by any person convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, as defined in federal law, and who is still “subject to the disabilities of such a conviction.”1 Federal law prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition by persons who have been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.2
Persons convicted of a domestic violence offenses are required to terminate possession of all firearms within 48 hours of the conviction by lawfully selling or transferring their firearms to a third party; such offenders must also file an affidavit with the court attesting that they relinquished all firearms, as required.3
Firearm Prohibitions for Persons Subject to Domestic Violence Restraining/Protective Orders
Tennessee law prohibits the carrying or possession of a firearm while subject to an order of protection “that fully complies with 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8)” (the federal law prohibiting firearm possession by a person subject to a domestic violence protective order).4
The Tennessee law provides that persons obtaining a domestic violence order of protection may seek an order that prohibits a respondent from purchasing or possessing a firearm.5 The Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts was required to revise the petition for an order of protection to fully advise the respondent that:
- If the order of protection is granted in a manner that fully complies with 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8), the respondent is required to terminate physical possession of all firearms possessed by respondent by any lawful means, such as transfer to a third party who is not prohibited from possessing firearms, within 48 hours of the granting of the order;
- It is a criminal offense for a person subject to an order of protection that fully complies with 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8) to possess a firearm while that order is in effect; and
- The issuance of an order of protection may terminate, or at least suspend, the individual’s ability to purchase or possess a firearm.6
In Tennessee, an order of protection must state, on its face:
- That the respondent is required to dispossess himself or herself, by any lawful means, of all firearms in his or her possession within 48 hours of the issuance of the order;
- That the respondent is prohibited from possessing a firearm for so long as the order of protection or any successive order of protection is in effect, and may re-assume possession of the dispossessed firearm at such time as the order expires or is otherwise no longer in effect; and
- Notice of the penalty for failing to comply with state laws regarding the possession of firearms when subject to an order of protection for domestic violence.7
The court must then order and instruct the respondent:
- To terminate the respondent’s physical possession of the firearms in his or her possession by any lawful means, such as transferring possession to a third party who is not prohibited from possessing firearms, within 48 hours;
- To complete and return the affidavit of firearm dispossession form the court may provide the respondent or direct the respondent to the administrative office of the courts’ web site; and
- That if the respondent possesses firearms as business inventory or that are registered under the National Firearms Act,8 there are additional statutory provisions that may apply which the court must include in the content of its order.9
A temporary protective order must be issued by a court where, following an arrest for a crime involving domestic abuse, there is probable cause for the court to believe that the respondent used or displayed a “deadly weapon,” which includes a firearm.10
Tennessee prohibits any person subject to an order of protection that fully complies with 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8) to knowingly fail to surrender or transfer all firearms the respondent possesses.11
Removal or Surrender of Firearms When Domestic Violence Protective Orders Are Issued
Tennessee law requires an individual subject to a domestic violence protection order to surrender all firearms by, for example, transferring them to a third party who may lawfully possess firearms; such respondents must also file an affidavit with the court attesting that they relinquished all firearms, as required.12
Removal or Surrender of Firearms at the Scene of a Domestic Violence Incident
In Tennessee, law enforcement officers that have probable cause to believe a criminal offense involving domestic abuse against a victim has occurred must seize all firearms that the alleged perpetrator may have used or threatened to use in the commission of a domestic abuse crime.13
During the arrest of an alleged perpetrator for a crime of domestic abuse against a victim, law enforcement officers may also seize any firearm in plain view of the officer or discovered pursuant to a consensual search if necessary for the protection of the officer or other persons.14
If multiple weapons are seized, a prosecuting court has authority to confiscate only the weapon or weapons actually used or threatened to be used by the perpetrator to commit the crime.15
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- Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1307(f)(1)(A). The crime of domestic violence, as applies to this section, is defined under federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(33). Tennessee law also prohibits the sale of firearms to any person convicted of stalking under Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-315. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(a)(1).
- 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-111. Specific procedures for relinquishment of firearms are detailed under Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-625.
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1307(f)(1)(B).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-604(b).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-604(c).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-625(a). See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1307(f)(1)(B) for state prohibition on possessing a gun while subject to an order of protection.
- 26 U.S.C. §§ 5801 et seq.
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-625(b).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-602(c); Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-11-106(a)(5).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-625(h)(1).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-625. Any such person who knowingly fails to do so is subject to a Class A misdemeanor. Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-625(h)(2).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-620(a)(1).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-620(a)(2). A law enforcement officer is not required to remove a weapon such officer believes is needed by the victim for self-defense. Id.
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-620(b). All other weapons seized shall be returned upon disposition of the case. The seizing officer must append an inventory of all seized weapons to the domestic abuse report that the officer files with his or her supervisor. Id. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1317 for state law governing the confiscation and disposition of confiscated firearms.