Massachusetts

Get Help

If you are a victim and your abuser has a gun or you feel unsafe for other reasons, it is important to work with a victim advocate. The following organizations can help you find an advocate free of charge:

It is also helpful to have a lawyer assist you, particularly when you are seeking an abuse prevention order. You can find a lawyer using the Massachusetts State Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from Civil Legal Aid for Victims of Crime and on the Massachusetts Judicial Branch website.



How to Get Protection

What kind of abuse prevention orders are available in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts courts can issue three types of abuse prevention orders. In each of these orders, the court can help protect you from gun violence or threats of gun violence by an intimate partner:

  • Emergency abuse prevention orders1*
  • Temporary abuse prevention orders2*
  • Final abuse prevention orders3*

In Massachusetts, defendants* subject to emergency, temporary,4 and final abuse prevention orders5 are prohibited from purchasing or possessing* firearms and are required to turn over their firearms immediately to law enforcement.6

Defendants subject to temporary and final abuse prevention orders cannot purchase or possess firearms, because they are not eligible for a firearms identification (FID) card, which is required to purchase or possess a firearm. 7People whose FID cards are revoked are required to turn over their cards and their firearms to the licensing authority.8

How can you get an abuse prevention order?

Click here to see if you are eligible for an abuse prevention order in Massachusetts.

You can find out more about how to get protection here or at WomensLaw.org.

You can find your local court here.

Court forms and Massachusetts’s guide to obtaining an abuse prevention order can be found here.

What do I do if I do not qualify for protection as a victim of domestic violence but I still need protection from someone?

If you do not qualify for protection as a victim of domestic violence but need protection from someone (including a stranger, an acquaintance, or another person not covered under a domestic violence protection order), you might qualify for some other type of order. Contact VictimConnect at (855) 484-2846 or a lawyer for more information. You can find a lawyer using the Massachusetts State Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from Civil Legal Aid for Victims of Crime and on the Massachusetts Judicial Branch website.

How can the court help protect you?

Massachusetts requires a defendant* subject to an emergency or temporary abuse prevention order to immediately surrender his/her/their firearms, firearm identification (FID) card, and license to carry firearms to law enforcement immediately after the court issues the order. 9Without a firearm identification card, the defendant cannot purchase or possess* firearms.10 Courts issuing final abuse prevention orders will order or continue to order the defendant to surrender their firearms, firearm identification card, and license to carry firearms to law enforcement in certain circumstances.11

Also, defendants subject to temporary and final abuse prevention orders cannot purchase or possess firearms, because they are not eligible for a firearms identification (FID) card, which is required to purchase or possess a firearm.12 If the defendant already has an FID card, the licensing authority will revoke the FID card,13 and the defendant will be required to turn over their cards and their firearms to the licensing authority.14

Courts can also order any other relief* they believe is necessary to protect you.15 Some of the things the court can order include:

  • Ordering law enforcement to retrieve the defendant’s firearms if the defendant does not turn them in as required by law;
  • Requiring the defendant to appear before the court to self-report turning over their guns, FID card, and license to carry firearms to law enforcement;
  • Directing law enforcement to follow up with the respondent if the respondent does not surrender their firearms, FID card, and license to carry firearms;
  • Scheduling a follow up compliance hearing* to ensure that the defendant has not accessed additional firearms since the order was issued;
  • Ordering law enforcement to go to your home at scheduled times to check in on your safety;
  • Ordering the defendant to stay away from you, your children, your family, and anyone else in immediate danger, based on the threats and/or actions of the defendant;
  • Ordering the defendant not to hurt you or threaten to hurt you in the future;
  • Anything else you need to be safe.

How will the court know what you need to protect you from the defendant’s firearms violence?

In your petition* and during any of the hearings* you participate in when you are seeking protection, you will have the opportunity to tell the court about the defendant’s* threats or acts of abuse, especially ones involving firearms. Every situation is different, and it is important to talk to a lawyer about your specific situation. You can find a lawyer using the Massachusetts State Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from Civil Legal Aid for Victims of Crime and on the Massachusetts Judicial Branch website.

Your story will help the court decide what relief* to give you. Whether you are filling out court forms or speaking directly to the court, it is important to tell the court about the violence you experienced (working with a lawyer, if you have one), especially if the defendant used or threatened to use a firearm against you, a member of your family, any member of the community, or your pet. Among other things, this may include telling the court:

  • About incidents of physical violence or threats of physical violence and include dates wherever you can;
  • How the defendant used firearms to hurt or threaten you, your family, your pet(s), or anyone in the community;
  • If you fear that the defendant may use firearms violence or threats of firearms violence in the future;
  • If the defendant has threatened to harm himself/herself/themselves. This may be a sign that the defendant intends to use a dangerous weapon like a firearm against you, themselves, or other people;
  • If you can, the type(s), number, and location of firearms the defendant has access to.

This page was updated September 4, 2020. Please note that data used are the most recent available data.