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Determining Eligibility for Return of Guns

Lately I have received a number of questions relating to whether it is appropriate to return guns following a temporary firearms disqualification. The issue seems to arise most commonly when a domestic violence restraining order (“DVPO”) is issued under Chapter 50B of the North Carolina General Statutes, which requires the surrender of guns by a defendant in certain circumstances and allows the defendant to seek return of the guns following the expiration of the order and final disposition of any related criminal charges. See G.S. 50B-3.1.

The issue of returning guns could pop up in other circumstances involving the seizure or surrender of guns. An interplay of state and federal law determines whether a person is disqualified from possessing firearms, temporarily or permanently, and some of the wrinkles are counterintuitive. This post examines some of the most common grounds for disqualification and discusses some limits of state authority in this area. It’s long, but I hope readers find it useful.

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Court of Appeals Upholds Validity of Ex Parte DVPOs

Background. In State v. Byrd, 363 N.C. 214 (2009), the state supreme court concluded that an ex parte domestic violence protective order, or DVPO, was not a “valid protective order” for purposes of the sentencing enhancement under G.S. 50B-4.1(d). (As explained in this prior post about Byrd, the enhancement provides that a felony that also … Read more

Testimony from Anonymous Witnesses

The Fourth Circuit recently decided United States v. Ramos-Cruz, a case involving an MS-13 member who was convicted of assorted federal crimes, all generally tied to his gang membership and activity. The defendant appealed, inter alia, “the district court’s decision to permit two witnesses to testify against him without revealing their names or other identifying … Read more

Discovery in Child Pornography Cases

There’s a recurrent discovery issue in child pornography cases. Generally, it goes like this: the defendant is arrested and charged with a child pornography offense. The prosecution contends that the defendant’s computer contains images of child pornography. The defendant retains a computer expert to examine his computer, hoping to show that the images were downloaded … Read more

State v. Byrd and Violations of DVPOs

Editor’s note: Several readers have reported technical difficulties with the blog. I’m trying to solve the problem, but in the meantime, (1) it seems to be limited to users of Microsoft Internet Explorer, so using a different browser may help, and (2) the last two days’ posts should be viewable here and here. My apologies. … Read more