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Protection Orders & Your Right to Own Firearms

Jay W. Mez, Attorney At Law May 10, 2024

Protection orders, while designed with the good intention of providing safety and security from threats or potential harm, cast a broad net that can entangle your rights, particularly concerning firearm ownership. The intersection between protection orders and firearm possession rights is complicated and closely governed by federal and state laws.  

Understanding the implications of protection orders on your firearm rights in Iowa can feel overwhelming and confusing. However, as an experienced criminal defense attorney based in Council Bluffs, Iowa, I’m here to shine a light on the truth of this issue, offering guidance and legal counsel to those facing these issues. 

The Purpose of Protection Orders in Iowa 

Protection orders in Iowa, also known as restraining orders, are legal instruments decreed by a court designed to safeguard individuals from imminent threats such as harassment, stalking, abuse, or any form of threatening behavior.  

They achieve this by strictly prohibiting the accused individual from initiating or maintaining any form of contact with the petitioner. These orders are a critical component of Iowa's legal framework to ensure the safety and well-being of its residents by offering a legal means to prevent potential violence or harassment. 

Federal and State Laws on Firearm Rights and Protection Orders 

Both federal and Iowa state laws have provisions concerning firearm ownership for individuals under protection orders. Federally, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) prohibits individuals under a domestic violence protection order from possessing firearms. 

Iowa state law echoes these restrictions, mandating the surrender of firearms by individuals subjected to a permanent protection order relating to domestic abuse. The convergence of these laws brings to light a significant point of contention for gun owners who suddenly find their rights have changed. 

The Surrender Process 

Once a protection order is issued, the person it targets is required to surrender their firearms, a measure aimed at preventing potential harm. This surrendering process is not simply a matter of handing over weapons; it involves either turning them over to a law enforcement agency or transferring ownership to a third party who is legally allowed to possess them.  

The implications of this process extend beyond the physical act of surrendering firearms. The emotional weight carried by individuals who value their Second Amendment rights deeply can be immense, feeling as though a fundamental right is being infringed upon.  

Additionally, the logistical challenges involved in complying with such orders—identifying a suitable third party, ensuring the transfer complies with legal standards, or arranging for the drop-off with law enforcement—add another layer of difficulty to an already stressful situation.  

The implications of these orders touch on sensitive areas of personal rights and safety, making the surrender of firearms a significant and often contentious issue. 

Legal Avenues for Gun Owners With Protection Orders 

Here's where I come in. My role as your attorney isn't just about representing you in court; it's about protecting your rights and guiding you through the nuances of the law.  

If you're a gun owner with a protection order against you, there are legal avenues we can explore: 

  • Challenging the Order: The first step might involve disputing the protection order itself, provided there are substantial grounds to do so. This approach requires a carefully-crafted defense strategy, presenting evidence and testimonies to demonstrate the order's redundancy or the lack of necessity. 

  • Modification Requests: In scenarios where the protection order is upheld, we can still petition the court for modifications. These modifications could potentially limit the scope of the order, specifically regarding firearm possession, depending on the case's circumstances and your conduct since the order was issued. 

  • Expungement: Under certain conditions, it might be possible to seek the expungement of the protection order from your record, subsequently restoring your rights. However, this is contingent on the nature of the case and state law provisions. 

Seeking Professional Legal Counsel 

While these legal options offer glimpses of hope, the journey is still full of complications and regulations that require professional navigation. That's where my role becomes invaluable.  

I provide more than just legal representation; I offer a comprehensive approach tailored to understand your unique situation, leveraging my extensive experience to serve clients throughout Pottawattamie County, Cass County, Fremont County, Montgomery County, Page County, Shelby County, and Mills County. 

Reach Out to Me for Legal Guidance 

If you find yourself at the crossroads of a protection order affecting your right to own firearms in Iowa, remember, the path forward, though challenging, is not impassable. With me by your side, you have an attorney committed to safeguarding your rights and striving for a fair resolution.  

Facing such a predicament can be concerning, but you don't have to go through it alone. If you’re facing issues surrounding protection orders and firearm rights in Iowa, reach out to me, Jay W. Mez, Attorney At Law. Together, we'll develop a solution that honors your rights and seeks the best possible outcome for your situation.