Can a Convicted Felon Purchase or Possess Any Type of Firearm?

GLBS-Icon

Being a practicing attorney who handles firearms questions and legal issues, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C.’s attorneys, including Bryan L. Ciyou, encounter a number of routine questions and misconceptions as it relates to firearms. One area of constant inquiry and some misunderstanding, is whether a felon may purchase or possess a firearm of any type at any time and circumstance.

As a general proposition, there is a bright line rule (black and white) under federal law that prohibits any person convicted of a felony from purchasing or possessing any type of firearm. While there is a provision of federal law that would allow certain felons to have their rights to purchase and possess firearms restored, Congress has not funded his provision of the law. As such, ATF has no ability to use this legal mechanism.

Over the few decades state and federal penal laws have proliferated, and a whole class of crimes heretofore that were not felonies now fall into this class. There are pervasive arguments advanced for allowing non-violent felons to have their firearms rights restored. However, outside a pardon, these positions have yet to gain legal traction and be implemented.

In addition, under the Brady law, a person convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence is also so prohibited from purchasing, possessing and/or carrying firearms. State and federal law does not differentiated between handguns and long guns. This distinction generally applies to a person who must have a license to carry a handgun.

There are a number of other categories of people who are prohibited possessors, such as persons dishonorably discharged or adjudicated mentally defective.

Nevertheless, a common question received by firearms’ attorneys and AFT is what type of weapons (firearms) a convicted felon (post incarceration, parole and probation) may possess, if any. While state law may vary, and the federal exception is very technical, it may be possible for a felon to purchase, possess, and carry certain muzzle loading firearms.

Generally, these are defined in relevant part by those manufactured before or during 1898 and are loaded from the muzzle (the open end of the barrel). The ammunition in these firearms is not triggered by a firing pin striking and igniting a primer. Instead, they are mostly (by current terms) ignited by a percussion cap or flint stone creating a spark.

The ammunition itself is also a key point by which antique firearms are differentiated from current firearms. The casing for antique firearms is effectively the breach end of the barrel into which (from the muzzle) power, a patch (for creating a seal) and shot or slug is placed. This is not a fixed or self-contained cartridge.

If the firearm is a antique firearm as defined under federal law, and allowed by state law, a convicted felon may possess such. However, a number of current black powder firearms are made from components of other modern firearms. These are excluded from the definition of an antique firearm. Thus, very careful research is required and this likely takes an attorney familiar with the hyper-technical distinctions found in state and federal law.

A unintended violation of state or federal firearms law is likely to carry a lengthy prison sentence so any attempt to utilize the narrow exception must be carefully researched and a cost-benefit analysis employed. If this blog post about about whether or not a convicted felon can purchase or possess a firearm has help you understand this common question and area of concern and misunderstanding amongst gun owners as a whole, this blog post has met its educational goal.

This blog post is written by attorney Bryan L. Ciyou, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., Indianapolis, Indiana, and is designed for general educational purposes only. You should not rely on this blog post and should consult with an attorney in your jurisdiction. Laws vary widely from place to place. This blog post is not a solicitation for legal services.

Buy Gun Laws By State Now

Like what you see here? Buy the book today and support this information and the gun law community. Thank you!

49 comments

  1. My son (22) was convicted in MN of 5th degree possession of 100 g of pot which is a felony. The conviction was stayed as long as he does not get into trouble in the next 5 years. He is living in my house and I have long guns as well as pistols (I have a carry permit). Do I have to remove all the guns from the house now? Can I keep the pistols in my locked truck with the keys locked in it so the truck can only be accessed from the door keypad which he does not have the combination?

    Comment by jeff on January 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm

  2. Hey, I was just wondering… what I was looking for was if a guy with a sexual harrassment felony can be in the same house a gun is in? I’ve heard a lot about them not suppose to be but I was wondering if it was true or not?

    Comment by Leighann on January 14, 2013 at 3:54 pm

  3. 17 years ago My girlfriend’s friend intervene in a family argument I applied for a gun permit carry permit and was denied because I would they said I pled guilty to a domestic assault charge which I believe never happened I did not plead guilty I only wanna know if I can possess and target shoot with a black powder revolver revolver could you please help me at least tell me where to go to start my quest thank you very much I would appreciate it if you could help

    Comment by tony kuldell on January 15, 2013 at 12:49 am

  4. K#4 the provisions of this section respect to hand guns shall only apply to persons convected before jan 1 1975entucky law 527.040 Possesion of firearm by convicted felon -Exections if convected before., if i under stant it corectly they the dont give up ther right

    Comment by charles leonard on January 31, 2013 at 6:45 pm

  5. In minnesota and most states if you have a family member in the home who is on probation for a felony or parole they cannot be in the same same home with firearms or ammunition. This is the same for most states. Some exceptions are if the PO says it is ok as long as they are locked. Also in minnesota a felon can cary a firearm depending on the crime and date of conviction. I am a felon in MN who has a certificate issued by the state once my parole was over. It restricted me for the first ten yrs but afterwards full rights restored. Under US Code the rights on this is determined by state law and not federal law.

    Comment by mark on February 5, 2013 at 1:48 am

  6. I also dealt with barren and hart cty KY and in kentucky a felon convicted in another state but not in ky can possess a firearm as long as the convicting state restored all civil rightd. If convicted in ky you are banned for life unless you have the case sealed or expunged.

    Comment by mark on February 5, 2013 at 1:52 am

  7. i have a felony for theft of misslayed property i was wondering i have a gun permit i live in nh am i able to ever own a hand gun agean

    Comment by jeremy on February 23, 2013 at 11:07 pm

  8. isnt it true that our rights can not be taken away,and in fact can only be surrendered? In other words if you refused to sine any paperwork apon conviction you would not surrender your rights!

    Comment by adam stein on April 2, 2013 at 10:59 am

  9. [...] Re: The President's Gun Proposals Originally Posted by ThomPaine I believe each state has different laws. There is no blanket prohibition. Actually there is a blanket federal law to prohibit it. At least according to this source. Can Convicted Felon Purchase or Possess a Firearm [...]

    Pingback by The President's Gun Proposals - Page 28 on April 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm

  10. I am a 30 year old male and I have a couple questions before I start the process of owning a firearm. I haven’t made any steps yet to talk to any goverment autorities, and have been trying to do some research before I do. I received an aggervated battery charge when I was 18. It was a low level felony, It states ” wrecklessly” and “unitentional” in the conviction. Its has been over ten years since the conviction, and I have recieved expungment for this crime five years ago. I have not been in any trouble since then. I have also moved from Kansas to Arizona. Can you tell me all the potiental issues I will run up against? Thanks!

    Comment by Randy Watson on April 27, 2013 at 3:59 am

  11. Is there any limition on air guns,knives throwing stars

    Comment by mark arthur on May 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm

  12. my ex-coworker it’s a retired police officer in new York state. He got arrested for one feloney larceny . Does he lose his license to carry after 30 years with a gun permit ?

    Comment by Miguel Rodriguez on July 23, 2013 at 5:56 am

  13. I have to say that all these State and Federal laws are unconstitutional because our ancestor granted the right to keep and bear Arms to all of us and they did not give neither Congress nor the States the right to regulate this Amendment (Amendment 2) “by appropriate legislation”. There is no such right granted. It was left to the people of the different States to regulate themselves as a Militia for their protection. But we have a dictatorial Congress and a Dictatorial U.S. “criminal” Supreme Court.

    On the subject of Firearms possession by a person convicted of a felony,Federal or State there are ways to legally possess firearms if one can get a State Certificate of Relief from Criminal Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct. These Certificates are granted by the States and they restore all the Civil Rights lost at the time of a conviction State and Federal. These certificates satisfy the federal requirements for possessing firearms. If your State grants you back your civil right and for the the federal government this means the restoration of the right to vote, to run for office and to sit in a jury then you can possess again firearms.
    http://articles.latimes.com/1991-05-14/news/mn-1908_1_civil-rights

    Very few people know about this federal law. People can also move to States which grant these certificates.

    Comment by Rex26 on July 23, 2013 at 10:44 pm

  14. I would like to know from someone if this ruling by the Arizona Federal Court has been overturned in a higher federal Court. if that’s the case then we have to protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court possibly hold all the Federal Court as enemies of the people and instruct the population at large that as we are dealing with a criminal government that if the’re called as jurors in firearms case and other cases they shall not convict. (Jury nullification) We render our own justice.
    The Second Amendment is very clear: “the right” of the people to keep and Bear Arms shall not be infringed. And there is nothing at end of this Amendment which would infer a right of the States or Congress to regulate this act through “appropriate legislation”. Neither the States nor Congress have power over this Amendment. It was left up to the people to regulate themselves.

    Comment by Rex26 on July 24, 2013 at 7:48 pm

  15. I was convicted in 1987-88 of a one felony count of sales of a controlled substance in the state of Nevada (methamphetamine). I have resided in the state of Montana since 1988 and my question is … Do I have the right to bear arms restored at this point in time? If not, what steps do I need to take to have my rights restored?!

    Comment by Lori R Staples Wageman on July 26, 2013 at 10:57 pm

  16. I was charged with a 1st degree felony, for stolen property. All accounts were returned, and charge was dropped to misdemeanor 3rd degree. Is it allowed to purchase a firearm in the state of alabama, with this charge/disposition?
    Thanks

    Comment by Bruce Tickell on July 31, 2013 at 3:25 pm

  17. I was recently arrested for carrying a handgun in N.C. It wasn’t conceled it was in a holster on my hip while walking my dog.My felony was misuse of credit card in 1992 .I received a 6 month sentence and it has ruined my life.Now 21 years later im looking at at least a year when I never even pulled it out.i had 1500 dollars on me to buy a truck and was only looking to protect myself.all sorts of felons are hiding theirs for one reason or another .2 weeks later I was jumped and robbed at gunpoint.They got my wallet and I took a beating by 5 men .even pistol whipped.NOt a police man around to help……justice?

    Comment by david ally on August 9, 2013 at 8:28 am

  18. I am a convicted felon, I live in Ohio, and I legally own several guns. Convicted felons who don’t know the law…this is for you,

    Ohio law says you can’t own a firearm if you are convicted of a violent or drug related felony. If your felony wasn’t violent or drug related you can still own a firearm according to Ohio law. Federal law says you can’t own a firearm if you have been convicted of any felony that punishment can exceed 12 months. Well if you have a felony 5 in Ohio, that is only punishable up to 12 months. Federal law also says if you have any misdemeanor domestic violence you can not own a firearm. So if you have no misdemeanor domestic violence, your felony was only a felony 5, it wasn’t violent or drug related, then by all laws you can legally own a firearm.

    Now let’s say you do have misdemeanor domestic violence, and your felony was higher than a felony 5 and punishable by a sentence exceeding 12 months, well then under federal law you can not own a firearm. However, federal law does not consider a muzzleloader or antique firearm a firearm, so you can own that type of gun under federal law. However, Ohio does consider a muzzleloader or antique firearm as an actual firearm, but if your felony wasn’t violent or drug related, you still have the right to own a firearm under Ohio law.

    It’s hard to understand at first, but this is law. I have 5 felonies all non violent or drug related, and a misdemeanor domestic violence. I legally own 5 muzzleloaders. Two revolving pistols, a revolving rifle, and two inline rifles.

    If you need help understanding this and are close by I can show it all to you in black and white and explain it.

    chevyguy513@gmail.com

    Comment by Chevy Guy 513 on August 27, 2013 at 3:19 am

  19. move to a state that allows open carry and which does not prohibit felons from possessing cap and ball revolvers. I am designing one that is double action, so rapidfire is not far off, with such guns. With one in each hand, there is a away to get 20 hits on a man, at 10ft of distance, in less than one second :-)

    Comment by Don Russell on August 29, 2013 at 10:47 pm

  20. WHEN CAN I GET MY GUN RIGHTS RESTORED IN MINNESOTA FELONY BURGLARY

    Comment by pAUL sTEICHEN on September 13, 2013 at 5:15 pm

  21. I plead guilty to a felony when I was 21 years old, I a now 41 and have neither had anything on my record before the incident or since. Am I to never have the right to bear arms? Just a question I was wondering about, since the case was an isolated incident involving myself as a battered wife that fought back against her abuser.

    Comment by Wendy Williams on September 15, 2013 at 9:18 pm

  22. my husband is being charged with a felon with a firearm.
    im not sure if he can be charged being that he is not a felon..

    Comment by LIN ESQUIVEL on October 3, 2013 at 12:50 pm

  23. i had a felony charge of forgery, it was a SIS and now is not a public record only for since now im now im of of probation as of 2009 im not a felon,can i posses a firearm. im in missouri

    Comment by scott on October 9, 2013 at 12:13 am

  24. can i get a gun permit, i had a non violent felony conviction more than10 yrs ago in NY and currently a Ct resident and business owner?

    Comment by edwin ramirez on October 17, 2013 at 11:55 am

  25. Highly descriptive post, I liked tgat a lot. Will there be a part 2?

    Comment by Damion on October 19, 2013 at 12:42 pm

  26. is a crossbow or a compound bow considered a firearm that cant be possesed by a convicted felon in the state of indiana?

    Comment by rodney on October 22, 2013 at 3:55 pm

  27. How long do you have to register a pistol after purchasing?

    Comment by kris on October 30, 2013 at 11:11 pm

  28. I was convicted of “unlawful recording” which in CA is a felony! I recorded a witness who said he saw my son’s grandparents smoking meth around my son. After bringing recording to DA she prosecuted me !!! Also I am a veteran I was discharged with a General (less then honorable) discharge. I.E. was caught in a bar under age after coming back from afghanistan. Nothing severe or violent. Can I own/buy a firearm ???

    Comment by Jerome Chavez on November 9, 2013 at 5:21 am

  29. I got convinced 8 years ago for a drug charge ? can i get a permittee to owe a fire arm now days ? or em i screwed

    Comment by Me me on November 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm

  30. a person that has been charged with child abuse no harm….in the year 2000 can they have the right to have a conceiled weapons permit now in 2013?

    Comment by Richard on November 27, 2013 at 9:12 pm

  31. In the state of Alabama I’m sorry

    Comment by Richard on November 27, 2013 at 9:13 pm

  32. I was convicted of a felony drug charge just over 7 years ago in the state of Alabama. I understand i cannot own or possess a gun. My question is can my husband who hasn’t been in any trouble have a handgun or shotgun in our house or on his persons in a vehicle with me?

    Comment by Ashley on December 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm

  33. [...] past. Should felons be returned their Second Amendment rights upon release from prison? Currently federal law prohibits any person convicted of a felony from possessing or purchasing a firearm. Some states laws allow hunting with a muzzle loading [...]

    Pingback by Should Released Felons Have the Right to Own Guns? : The Tea Party Economist on December 6, 2013 at 7:29 am

  34. [...] past. Should felons be returned their Second Amendment rights upon release from prison? Currently federal law prohibits any person convicted of a felony from possessing or purchasing a firearm. Some states laws allow hunting with a muzzle loading [...]

    Pingback by Lions of Liberty on December 6, 2013 at 1:21 pm

  35. my question is a simple one. the lawyer who wrote this is from IN, i live in Illinois. i have a class X felony sealed on my juvenile record. if i moved to IN is there any chance i could ever own a fire arm?

    Comment by Owen on January 4, 2014 at 8:57 pm

  36. How can I know if I can own a gun if I had a felony back in 1999

    Comment by David on January 7, 2014 at 1:48 pm

  37. I can do jury duty and vote but need to see how I can know if I can buy a firearm

    Comment by David on January 7, 2014 at 1:51 pm

  38. Question is a blank gun considered a firearm? It cannot be made to shoot anything except a blank no projectile can be fired from it. I do not think the ATF considers it a firearm but I am curious. Thanks for any help you can give me.

    Comment by Joe Renaud on January 9, 2014 at 6:37 pm

  39. so even if you have a drug felony but never served jail time (5 yrs . probation) and its been past 7 yrs. you can never own a firearm. is that correct?

    Comment by juan on January 16, 2014 at 4:00 am

  40. To make a lifetime rule that anyone convicted of a non-violent felony can never again have their 2nd amendment rights constitutes cruel and unusual punishment (unconstitutional under the 8th amendment). No where in the US Constitution or the Bill of Rights does it say that someone convicted of a felony gives up every one of the rights under the Constitution for the rest of their life. Once the punishment is complete and a short (about 10 years) time has passed without another conviction, these Rights MUST be restored. Other wise “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” are infringed. Doesn’t matter what the courts say, this is reality.

    Comment by Bob on January 18, 2014 at 3:25 pm

  41. I have a non violent felon conviction of disturbing coke I did my time and have 5 munths left on probation I was resentley charge with possion of a fire arm I killed a bear with a 22 rifle and got snitched on bear season was in I live in the worse state of all va where they take the law and change them and switch them any way they want just woundering if any one knows wut I might be lookin at when I go to court

    Comment by derri k on February 18, 2014 at 11:36 am

  42. i just found out that i have a felony from 19yrs ago. my wife owns a hand gun. is it legal for me to be in the house with the gun. my case was closed in 1994. my lawyer was suppose to seal my case and records to protect my background, i found out he didnt do that. i have since filed to have all my records sealed. i want to get back to hunting and be able to protect my family, and with everything going on these days i want to make sure myself and my family are safe. I have a gun of my own and have had it for years. what should i do to be able to purchase guns again.

    Comment by David on February 20, 2014 at 12:41 am

  43. What about going through a program like http://CriminalRehabilitation.com for alternatives to prison, so that you can get your rights back?

    Comment by Bill Bonaza on March 1, 2014 at 11:48 pm

  44. Good day,in 1980 I was convicted of aggrivated robbery,did 5 months and was released,the judge said that my records were sealed.First what does that mean and can I own a ball and cap pistol in the great state of california?

    Comment by Todd Anderson on March 8, 2014 at 11:46 am

  45. My dad has a non violent felony. I was wondering if I could have a gun while living with him.

    Comment by Caleb Hildinger on March 12, 2014 at 11:55 am

  46. My dad has a non violent felony. I was wondering if I could have a gun while living with him. I live in Ohio.

    Comment by Caleb Hildinger on March 12, 2014 at 11:56 am

  47. at this point the only way i can get a firearm(legally!) is a pardon from the govener or president judge can exspunge my record(but that could take a long long time to appear on back ground check!!!),if the judge doe’s so…my felony coviction was 30+yrs.ago and was basicly “non violent”…burglary.i live in the state of pennsylvania,a great state but some of these law’s are tuff!!! after all quakers ruled pa. and the 1st. prison in the u.s.a. was eastern,in philly!!! my point? it is very very hard to get a full metal jacket weapon if you have been covicted of a felony,no matter what the charge!…i am 56 and all i want to do is hunt(as i have done for the first 20yrs. of my life,i live in pa. for christ sake!!! hunting & fishing is what 90% of pa doe’s…i am an antique dealer also & the guns i had to pass on! wow!!! but fed law says i can own a pre 1898 weapon,POINT? very hard to do,but check state law even if feds say no to felons,your state may have looser laws concerning felony convictions! thanks for listening!

    Comment by darrin on March 27, 2014 at 5:04 pm

  48. [...] Can convicted felon purchase or possess a firearm Can a convicted felon purchase or possess any type of firearm?. [...]

    Pingback by where can i buy scandal season 2 - News, Politics and Stuff on March 28, 2014 at 1:01 pm

  49. [...] became gamblers inside the years leading up on the real estate slump that started in 2006. They possess a role in combating infections that is why white blood go now cell counts can provide clinicians [...]

    Pingback by Sometimes they are like stimulus-response Pavlovian formulas | Daisychain Events on March 31, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Leave a reply

FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

Table of Contents

About the author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More