Respond to a Request for Firearms Restraining Order

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This section helps you respond to a request for a firearms restraining order. Read the introduction to the Firearms Restraining Order section to get more information about firearms restraining orders and the court process.

What Is a Firearms Restraining Order?

A firearms restraining order is a court order that prohibits someone from having a gun or ammunition.

It can order you to:

  • Not have a gun or ammunition;
  • Not buy a gun or ammunition; and
  • Turn in any guns and ammunition to the police, sell them to or store them with a licensed gun dealer.

If There Is a Temporary Restraining Order Against You

1. Read the order carefully. If you disobey the order, you can go to jail or be fined.

  • Read the Temporary Firearms Restraining Order (Form GV-110), which contains the order that is in effect until the court date. Make sure follow the order.

  • You CANNOT own, possess, buy or try to buy a gun or firearm while the order is in effect. If you have a gun now, the law enforcement officer will probably require you to give him or her all the firearms and ammunition that you currently have.  If the law enforcement officer does not take your firearms, you have to turn them in to the police or sell them to, or store them with, a licensed firearms dealer. Read How Do I Turn in, Sell, or Store My Firearms? (Form GV-800-INFO).

2. Read How Can I Respond to a Petition for Firearms Restraining Orders? (Form GV-120-INFO)

3. Go to the court hearing on the restraining order. The hearing date is on the Notice of Court Hearing (Form GV-109).

  • If you do not go to court, the judge can make the restraining order without hearing your side of the story. And the order can last up to 1 year.

4. If you want to tell your side of the story, file a response BEFORE your court date.

  • You can fill out and file a Response to Petition for Firearms Restraining Orders (Form GV-120) where you tell the judge your side of the story.
  • Even if you do not file a Response, GO TO YOUR HEARING!

You do not need a lawyer to respond to a restraining order. BUT it is a good idea to have a lawyer. Having a restraining order issued against you can have very serious consequences, so by having a lawyer you can protect your rights as best as possible. Click for help finding a lawyer.

Your court’s self-help center may also be able to help you respond to the restraining order or refer you to someone who can.

IMPORTANT! If you also have a criminal case related to this case, it is very important you talk to a lawyer. Anything you say or write in the firearms restraining order case can be used against you in your criminal case.

Answering the Restraining Order

If you decide to answer the request for the restraining order, follow these steps:

STEP 1. Fill Out Your Court Forms and Prepare to File

STEP 2. File and Serve Your Response

STEP 3. Get Ready and Go to Your Court Hearing

STEP 4. After the Court Hearing


STEP 1. Fill Out Your Court Forms and Prepare to File

1. Read How Can I Respond to a Petition for Firearms Restraining Orders? (Form GV-120-INFO).

2. Fill out your response forms:

  • Response to Petition for Firearms Restraining Orders (Form GV-120);
  • Attached Declaration (Form MC-031), if you need more space to write; and
  • Declaration (Form MC-030) for any statements of witnesses that will support your side of the story.

3. Have your forms reviewed before filing
If your court’s self-help center helps people with firearms restraining orders, ask them to review your paperwork. They can make sure you filled out your Response properly.

4. Make at least 2 copies of all your forms
One copy will be for you; another copy will be for the person asking for the restraining order. The original is for the court.

STEP 2. File and Serve Your Response

Once you have filled out all your forms, you have to file them with the court and “serve” (give a copy to) the person who filed the request (the petitioner). Do this at least 2 days before your court hearing to make sure you give the court and the the petitioner enough time to review your response. If you cannot do it at least 2 days before the court date, do it as soon as you can.

1. File your Response in court
Take the original and 2 copies of your form GV-120 to the court clerk to file. The court clerk will keep the original and return both copies to you, stamped “Filed.”

2. Serve the petitioner with a copy of your forms
You must get someone 18 or older (NOT YOU) to mail a copy of your Response and any other papers to the the petitioner. The person who does this is called the “server” or “process server.” The server can also hand-deliver the papers.

3. File your proof of service
Have your server fill out a Proof of Service by Mail (Form GV-250) and give it to you. Then, you file it with the court and keep a copy for yourself. This form tells the judge that the other person got a copy of your Response.

If you are unable to file and serve your forms before the hearing, bring them with you to the hearing anyway.

STEP 3. Get Ready and Go to Your Court Hearing

Get Ready for Your Hearing

Be prepared:

  • Get your papers together. If you did not already file your forms with the court, take 2 copies of all your papers, including the Proof of Service, with you to the hearing. If there are any other documents that help your case (trying to disprove what the other person says happened), take those with you.
  • Get your evidence together. You can take witnesses to help support your case. Witnesses may or may not be allowed to speak. But you can bring a witness’s written statement (declaration) of what he or she saw or heard. You can use a Declaration (Form MC-030) for any statements of witnesses that support your side of the story. You should file and serve witness statements at the same time that you filed your Response (Form GV-120). If you did not have time to file them ahead of time, then take the original plus 2 copies to your court hearing.
  • If you do not speak English well, ask the clerk for an interpreter for your hearing date. If a court interpreter is not available, bring someone to interpret for you. Do not ask a child to interpret for you. Make sure you find someone who is qualified to interpret and speaks English and your language extremely well. Click to search for a licensed interpreter. Get tips to help you work with a court interpreter.

Do not miss your hearing!
If you miss it, the judge can make the order without hearing from you.

Get there 30 minutes early:

  • Find the courtroom.
  • When the courtroom opens, go in and tell the clerk or officer that you are present.
  • If the the petitioner is present, do NOT sit near or try to talk to him or her.
  • Watch the other cases so you will know what to do.
  • When your name is called, go to the front of the courtroom.
  • Your hearing may last just a few minutes or up to an hour.

Practice what you want to say in response to what the petitioner said in the request:

  • It is important to present your case clearly and precisely without rambling.  It is often a good idea to write out what you want to say as an aid.  But it is better to speak without reading.  In court, do not take more than 3 minutes to say why you disagree with the requested order.
  • If you get nervous at the hearing, just read from your notes. Use your notes to make sure you tell the judge about everything you disagree with.

Your court hearing

During your hearing, the judge may ask questions

  • Wait for your turn to speak. When the judge asks you for your side of the story, tell the truth. Speak slowly. You can read from your notes.
  • Try to be brief. If you go on about things that are not really relevant or important, it may affect your chances of winning.
  • Do not use inappropriate language. Stick to the facts.
  • Stay calm. Any display of anger toward the petitioner will only make it appear that any fear of violence that he or she has is reasonable.
  • The other person or his or her lawyer may also ask you questions.
  • Give complete answers.
  • If you do not understand a question, say “I don’t understand the question.”
  • If the other side lies in court, wait until he or she finishes talking. Then tell the judge the truth.
  • Speak only to the judge. Do not talk to the the petitioner unless it is your turn to ask questions.
  • If you are given an opportunity to ask questions, only ask questions. Do not take it as a chance to argue with or berate the petitioner, or to repeat things that you have already said.
  • When someone else is talking to the judge, wait for him or her to finish. Then you can ask questions about what was said.
  • Do not sit near or talk to the petitioner, except when it is your turn to ask questions.

The judge’s decision

At the end of the hearing, the judge may:

  • Give the the petitioner the order he or she asked for.
  • Not give the petitioner the order he or she asked for.
  • Postpone your case and give you a new court date. This means you have to come back another day. The judge can do this if:
    • You need more time to get a lawyer or prepare an answer.
    • The judge wants more information.
    • Your hearing is taking longer than planned.
  • If the judge postpones (“continues”) your case, the judge will extend the temporary restraining order until the new hearing date.

See Going to Court to read more information about how to prepare for your court hearing.

STEP 4. After the Court Hearing

If the judge issues a restraining order against you at the hearing you MUST obey it. If you do not, you can be arrested.

If you were not at the hearing, you will be served with the Firearms Restraining Order After Hearing  (Form GV-130) within a few days of your court date in person. If you did go to the hearing, you should get a copy of the Form GV-130.  The rules for whether you have to be served with a copy of Form GV-130 are as follows:

  • If you were at the hearing, the petitioner does NOT have to serve you with a copy of Form GV-130 although he or she may do it anyway. BUT do not wait to see if you receive it or not. Get your own copy from the court. That way, you will have it and will not forget you must do.
  • If you were not at the hearing, the petitioner must have someone serve you with Form GV-130 in person, not by mail.

If the judge issues a restraining order against you, you are not allowed to own, possess, buy or try to buy a firearm or ammunition. If you own firearms or ammunition, you will have to sell them to a licensed gun dealer, store them with the licensed dealer, or turn them in to law enforcement, and file proof with the court. To file this proof, you can use the Proof of Firearms Turned In, Sold, or Stored (Form GV-800). For more information on what to do, read How Do I Turn in, Sell, or Store My Firearms? (Form-GV-800-INFO).

Getting Help

It can be difficult to find free or low-cost legal help if you are responding to a request for a firearms restraining order. But you should still try since legal aid agencies have different guidelines, and your local bar association may have a volunteer lawyer program that can help you. Click for help finding a lawyer.

Your court’s self-help center may also be able to help you respond to the restraining order or refer you to someone who can.

© 2017 Judicial Council of California