See our Domestic Violence and Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
New Hampshire law, unlike federal law, does not prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition.
New Hampshire prohibits a defendant subject to a domestic violence protective order from purchasing, receiving, or possessing any and all firearms and ammunition for the duration of the order.1 If there is probable cause to believe that firearms and ammunition are kept on the defendant’s premises, the court may issue a search warrant authorizing a peace officer to seize any and all firearms and ammunition.2 New Hampshire law also includes a specific provision penalizing a person who completes and signs an application for purchase of a firearm and who knows that such purchase is illegal because he or she is subject to a protective order.3.
In issuing a domestic violence protective order, a New Hampshire court must direct the defendant to relinquish to a peace officer any and all firearms and ammunition in the control, ownership or possession of the defendant or any other person on behalf of the defendant. The firearms and ammunition must remain relinquished for the duration of the protective order.4 In issuing a temporary domestic violence protective order, a court may (but need not) include a similar command.5 Under a law enacted in 2014, a person who knowingly violates any term of a temporary domestic violence restraining order by means of the use or attempted use of physical force or the threatened use of a deadly weapon, is guilty of the crime of domestic violence.6
- Uses or attempts to use physical force, or by physical conduct threatens to use a deadly weapon for the purpose of placing another in fear of imminent bodily injury;
- Threatens to use a deadly weapon against another person for the purpose to terrorize that person;
- Threatens to use a deadly weapon to cause another to submit to sexual contact and the victim believes the actor has the present ability to carry out the threat;
- Confines another unlawfully, by means of physical force or the threatened use of a deadly weapon, so as to interfere substantially with his or her physical movement;
- Uses physical force or the threatened use of a deadly weapon against another to block that person’s access to any cell phone, telephone, or electronic communication device with the purpose of preventing, obstructing, or interfering with: (1) The report of any criminal offense, bodily injury, or property damage to a law enforcement agency; or (2) A request for an ambulance or emergency medical assistance to any law enforcement agency or emergency medical provider.9
If a person uses or threatens to use a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime of domestic violence, they are guilty of a felony. Otherwise a crime of domestic violence is generally punishable as a misdemeanor.10
Whenever any peace officer has probable cause to believe that a person has been abused, New Hampshire law requires the officer to use all means within reason to prevent further abuse, including confiscating any firearms and ammunition in the defendant’s control, ownership or possession.11
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 173-B:5(II). ⤴︎
- Id. In addition, following a defendant’s arrest for violating a temporary or permanent protective order, the arresting officer must seize any firearms or ammunition in the control, ownership or possession of the defendant. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 173-B:9(I)(b). ⤴︎
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159-D:3. ⤴︎
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 173-B:5(I). ⤴︎
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 173-B:4(I). ⤴︎
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 631:2-b(I)(j). ⤴︎
- “Family or household member” means 1) the actor’s spouse or former spouse; 2) a person with whom the actor is cohabiting as a spouse, parent, or guardian; 3) a person with whom the actor cohabited as a spouse, parent, or guardian but no longer shares the same residence; 4) an adult with whom the actor is related by blood or marriage; or 5) a person with whom the actor shares a child in common. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 631:2-b(III)(a). ⤴︎
- “Intimate partner” means a person with whom the actor is currently or was formerly involved in a romantic relationship, regardless of whether or not the relationship was sexually consummated. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 631:2-b(III)(b). ⤴︎
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 631:2-b(I). ⤴︎
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 631:2-b(II). ⤴︎
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 173-B:10(I)(a). ⤴︎