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:
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE;
- VictimConnect at (855) 484-2846;
- The Minnesota 24-Hour Statewide Hotline at (866)223-1111;
- Any of the local domestic violence programs listed here.
It is also helpful to have a lawyer assist you, particularly when you are seeking a domestic violence order for protection. You can find a lawyer using the Minnesota Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from LawHelpMN.
How to Get Protection
What kind of domestic violence orders for protection are available in Minnesota?
Minnesota courts can issue two types of domestic violence orders for protection. In one of these orders, the court can help protect you from gun violence or threats of gun violence by an intimate partner:
- Ex parte* orders for protections1*
- (Final) orders of protection2*
In a (final) order of protection, a court can order whatever relief* it believes is necessary to protect you,3 including requiring the respondent* to get rid of his/her/their guns and prohibiting them from getting new ones. Minnesota law also prohibits some respondents subject to (final) orders for protection from possessing* firearms and requires them to get rid of their firearms.4
How can you get an order for protection?
Click here to see if you are eligible for an order for protection in Minnesota.
You can find your local court here.
Court forms and Minnesota’s official guide for getting an order for protection 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 Minnesota Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from the LawHelpMN.
How can the court help protect you?
Respondents* to (final) orders of protection are prohibited from possessing* firearms if the order contains certain relief* and findings.5 In this case, the court will:
- Require the respondent to turn over their firearms to law enforcement, a federally licensed firearms dealer, or a third party who is allowed to have firearms and does not live with the respondent within three days business days; and
- File proof with the court that he/she/they got rid of their guns within two business days of getting rid of them.6
In some cases, the court will order law enforcement to immediately take away their firearms.7
In Minnesota, a court issuing a (final) order of protection can also order whatever relief they believe is necessary to protect you.8 Some of the things the court can order include:
- Requiring the respondent to turn over his/her/their firearms to local law enforcement immediately;
- Prohibit the respondent from purchasing or possessing firearms for the duration of the order;
- Ordering law enforcement to retrieve the respondent’s firearms if the respondent does not turn them in within three days or as otherwise ordered by the court;
- Requiring the defendant to appear before the court to self-report turning getting rid of their guns in addition to filing proof;
- Directing law enforcement to follow up with the defendant to make sure the defendant turned over their guns as ordered;
- Scheduling a follow up compliance hearing* to ensure that the respondent 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 respondent to stay away from you, your children, your family, and anyone else in immediate danger, based on the threats and/or actions of the respondent;
- Ordering the respondent 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 respondent’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 respondent’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 Minnesota Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from LawHelpMN.
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 respondent 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 respondent used firearms to hurt or threaten you, your family, your pet(s), or anyone in the community;
- If you fear that the respondent may use firearms violence or threats of firearms violence in the future;
- If the respondent has threatened to harm him/her/themself. This may be a sign that the respondent intends to use a dangerous weapon like a firearm against you, themself, or other people;
- If you can, the type(s), number, and location of firearms the respondent has access to.