Vermont has no law:
- Prohibiting individuals subject to domestic violence protective orders from possessing firearms or ammunition, although federal law applies;
- Requiring courts to notify domestic abusers that they are prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition;
- Requiring the removal or surrender of firearms at the time a domestic violence protective order is issued; or
- Requiring the removal of firearms at the scene of a domestic violence incident.
In 2015, Vermont enacted a law prohibiting individuals who have been convicted of a violent crime from possessing a firearm.1 The definition of “violent crime” includes domestic violence misdemeanor offenses including domestic assault, stalking, sexual assault, and aggravated assault crimes.2 Under Vermont law, “domestic assault” only includes offenses against family or household members,3 but misdemeanor stalking, sexual assault, and aggravated assault offenses against any person would trigger the firearm prohibition.4
Though Vermont law does not prohibit individuals subject to domestic violence protective orders from possessing firearms or ammunition, Vermont does provide that a court issuing a protective orders for family or household members may make such orders as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff and/or the children. The Supreme Court of Vermont has found that this provision authorizes the court to prohibit a defendant from possessing firearms.5 If courts issue such an order prohibiting a respondent from accessing firearms, the abuser is required to relinquish any firearms and ammunition in his or her possession to a law enforcement agency or an approved federally licensed firearms dealer.6 The court issuing the protective order may order that the subject of the order relinquish the firearms and ammunition in his or her possession to someone other than a law enforcement agency or approved federally licensed firearms dealer, unless the court finds that the relinquishment to the other person will not adequately protect the safety of the victim.7
In 2018, Vermont also passed legislation authorizing (but not requiring) law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms from domestic abusers in certain cases where the officer is arresting or citing a person for domestic assault.8 In such cases, an officer may temporarily remove firearms that are in the abuser’s immediate possession or control, in plain view at the scene of the assault, or discovered during a lawful search, if doing so is necessary for the protection of the officer, the abuser, the victim, or a family member of the victim or abuser.9 The officer may also remove firearms that are illegally possessed or that will be used as evidence in a criminal proceeding.10
See our Domestic Violence & Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
- See 2015 VT S.B. 141, enacting Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4017.
- Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, §§ 4017(d)(3), 5301(7).
- See Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, §§ 1042-44
- See Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, §§ 5301(7), 1062-63, 3252-53, 1024.
- Benson v. Muscari (2001) 172 Vt. 1, 769 A.2d 1291 (interpreting Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 15, § 1103(c) ).
- Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 20, § 2307(b).
- 2017 VT H 422.
- Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 1048(a).