Well, As a convicted felon you already know that you can’t legally own a gun. But, Can Felons Go To Gun Range?
But can you use a gun that you don’t own? Can felons go to the gun range and practice shooting with a rented or borrowed firearm in a controlled environment?
Let’s find out!
Can Felons Go To Gun Range in 2023?
As a felon, you cannot visit a gun range. At all. No exceptions.
Obviously, this isn’t the answer you wanted to hear, but if you want to stay out of trouble, you’ll have to abide by the restrictions placed on you.
Penalties for violating the firearms restriction are severe, and if you’re convicted, you’ll face a stretch in prison.
At first glance, this might not make any sense to you because at a gun range you can use a gun that you don’t own. But the term ‘own’ is a misnomer because the law actually uses the term ‘possess’.
And while both words are synonyms in everyday language, they have specific and separate meanings in law.
As A Felon You Are Not Allowed To Possess A Gun
We all understand what the term ‘own’ means. If we own something, that item is our property.
The legal dictionary at Law.com defines ‘own’ as having the legal title or right to something. The definition adds that possession is not the same as ownership.
What does the legal term possession mean?
Again, we’ll look at the definition from Law.com which defines possession as:
“Any article, object, asset or property which one owns, occupies, holds or has under control.”
Has under control is the part you need to pay attention to.
If you’re using a gun, it’s under your control. That is possession.
So, that’s clear.
The law which prohibits your possession of a firearm is the Gun Control Act of 1968.
You Also Need To Be Aware Of Constructive Possession
The offense of constructive possession also has serious consequences.
You can be charged with constructive possession if you have access to a gun. You don’t need to ever use the gun or even hold the gun. Just being in a situation where you could get hold of a gun is enough for a constructive possession charge.
So if you visited the gun range to watch a friend or family member shoot, or as a parent, you take a minor child to shoot at the range, you would be at risk of a constructive possession charge.
Once you’ve been convicted of a felony offense, you need to be ultra-careful when it comes to the possibility of being around guns.
How Could You Get Caught At The Gun Range?
You might wonder how the authorities would know that you’re at the gun range. That’s a good question. Here are a couple of ways.
When you buy ammo to shoot with, you’ll often have to present your ID. In some states, for example, California, your identity information is sent to the Department of Justice. If their database flags you as someone who cannot purchase ammunition, then they’re going to come and make trouble for you.
An employee at the range could run your background if it’s their policy to carry out a background check on clients. When that report comes back with your felony, they could simply refuse your admission or they could call the police. That employee could even be the police!
Here’s a cautionary tale that was reported in the Naples Daily News.
Back in 2008, Jason Doland, a felon on probation, visited a gun range with a friend to practice shooting. The news report states that a police officer working at the gun range thought the two young men, who had tattoos, looked like gang members, so he ran a check on the IDs they signed in with.
The check revealed that one of the men was a felon.
That visit to the gun range ended up costing Doland a 10-year prison sentence.
Had that police officer not been working a second job at the gun range, Doland’s visit would have gone unnoticed, but luck was not on his side that day.
As a felon, it’s not worth risking your freedom in the hope that you get lucky.
You should keep in mind that many gun range officers are either law enforcement officers working a second job, or retired officers.
A police officer is an ideal candidate for a range officer because they’re fully trained in the use of firearms, weapon inspections, and firearms safety procedures.
If a cop or ex-cop is working at your local range, and anything about you raises their suspicions, it only takes a couple of minutes for them to run a background check on you and discover your felony.
See Also: Can A Felon Own A Muzzleloader?
Can You Get Your Gun Rights Restored?
In some cases, it may be possible to get your gun rights restored. It’s a complex area of the law which is further complicated because you need to deal with both state and federal laws.
For example, you may be able to get your gun rights reinstated at the state level, but you could still fall foul of federal law.
Unless full gun rights are restored at the state level, including concealed carry rights and the right to use your gun outside your home (going to the range, hunting, etc.) the federal prohibition still applies and you will remain vulnerable to prosecution.
Was your felony offense a state crime or a federal crime?
If your felony was a state crime, then depending on the law in the state where you received your conviction, you may be able to apply to have your offense expunged (set aside), pardoned, or reduced to a misdemeanor.
The possibility of expungement, pardon, or reduction to a misdemeanor only exists for certain offenses and all of your sentencing requirements will need to have been fulfilled.
Some states allow for the restoration of firearms rights once a specified time period has passed.
If your felony was a federal crime, then you cannot get your gun rights restored without receiving a pardon. And that’s going to be close to impossible to obtain because the pardon has to come from the President.
You will need to seek legal advice in your state of residence or the state where your offense took place to get a full understanding of what’s possible in your case.
Read Recent Article: What Rights Do Convicted Felons Lose?
State By State Summary Of Gun Restoration Rights
Civil rights, including firearm rights, may be restored upon receiving a pardon. The pardon petition must specifically include a request for the restoration of civil rights.
You may be able to get your handgun gun rights restored by having your felony set aside, receiving a pardon, or waiting until 10 years have passed since unconditional discharge.
For a nonviolent offense, gun rights may be restored via a set aside as soon as your sentence ends. If this is not possible, after a period of 2 years, an application for the restoration of firearms rights may be made. For violent offenses, a felon must wait 10 years from the end of their sentence.
Gun rights may be restored via an application for expungement or governor’s pardon.
Gun rights may be restored by obtaining a pardon from the governor, which specifically requests firearms rights restoration. The only other possibility is applying to have your felony reduced to a misdemeanor.
Gun rights may be restored by obtaining a pardon. The pardon is issued by the governor.
You may apply for an expungement or pardon once 5 years have passed since your conviction. The pardon application includes a section that you need to fill out to have your gun rights restored.
To restore firearms rights, felons must apply to the Board of Pardons. If an application is successful it passes to the governor for approval. You must wait for 3 or 5 years (depending on the offense) after the completion of your sentence before you can apply for a pardon.
After 8 years from sentence completion, you may apply for a governor’s pardon and/or restoration of gun rights.
If your felony is a first offense, you may apply for gun rights restoration once 10 years have passed from completion of your sentence. If your felony charge resulted in a deferred adjudication, you may apply after 5 years. In all other circumstances, gun rights can only be restored by pardon.
Gun rights may be restored by obtaining a pardon from the governor.
Upon completion of your sentence, your gun rights along with your other civil rights may be automatically restored as long as your felony isn’t of a more serious nature.
If your rights are not eligible for automatic restoration, you may apply for restoration 5 years after sentence completion.
You can apply to the state police for firearms restoration. If your felony is a forcible felony, then you must wait 20 years before you’re eligible to apply. You may also apply for a pardon.
It’s possible to apply to the parole board for a pardon 5 years after the completion of your sentence. Alternatively, gun rights may be restored via an application to the state police after 15 years.
Firearms rights cannot be restored for a forcible felony or for firearms offenses. For other felonies, a governor’s pardon or a gun rights restoration may be applied for 5 years from the date of your conviction.
Gun rights cannot be restored if you were convicted of a personal felony or drug felony that involved the use of a firearm. Person felonies include rape, murder, and robbery.
A person’s felony committed without the use of firearm results in a 3 or 8-year firearms ban. The more serious felonies warrant the 8-year ban. For other felonies, the ban is 3 months. Timing is from the completion of your sentence.
Gun rights can be restored with a pardon from the governor. You can also apply to have your record expunged.
For restoration of gun rights, you’ll need to wait for 10 years after sentence completion or obtain a pardon from the governor. You can also apply for an expungement.
Firearms rights can be restored 5 years after completion of the sentence. You must apply to the Maine Commissioner of Public Safety for a permit to carry a firearm.
Gun rights can only be restored upon receiving a pardon from the governor. You must have been conviction free for the last 10 years to be eligible. If your felony involved violence or drugs, then you must wait 20 years.
Gun rights will be restored 5 years after completion of your sentence except where the crime was one involving violence or drugs.
Firearms rights are restored after 3 years unless the felony involved violence or drugs, then you must wait 5 years. Rights may also be restored if you obtain a pardon.
Firearms rights are restored upon sentence completion unless the crime involved violence or drugs. For these offenses, you must apply to the court for a pardon.
Your gun rights can be restored with a governor’s pardon. Typically, 7 years need to pass before they will consider an application.
You may apply to the parole board for a pardon 3 years after sentence completion. The board will make a recommendation which must be approved by the governor.
Your firearm rights are lost only when the crime you were convicted of involved the use of a firearm. Firearm offenses will need a pardon in order to have rights restored.
After 3 years you can apply to the parole board for a pardon.
Gun rights may only be restored upon receiving a pardon from the Board of Pardon Commissioners. You must be fully rehabilitated and a significant period must have passed since you completed your sentence.
Firearms rights may only be restored by pardon in cases of a felony against the person or property of another, or a felony involving drugs. Pardons are granted by the governor.
You can apply for a governor’s pardon at any time, which, if successful, will restore your gun rights.
If your felony received deferred adjudication and you have completed probation, your full civil rights will be automatically restored. Otherwise, a felon may not own or possess a firearm for 10 years after the completion of their sentence. A pardon may be obtained to restore rights earlier in some cases.
Class A-1 felonies and violent felonies are ineligible for gun rights restoration. Otherwise, rights may be restored with a pardon or by receiving a Certificate of Good Conduct.
If you have a single non-violent felony, you may petition the court for restoration of gun rights after a period of 20 years. Otherwise, rights may be restored upon a successful application for a pardon.
Violent felonies result in the loss of firearms rights for 10 years, and for non-violent felonies, the period is 5 years. Rights may be restored earlier with a petition to the court or an application for pardon.
Firearms rights are not lost for all felonies. Only felons who have committed offenses involving drugs or violence lose their rights. Upon completion of your sentence, you can apply to the court for restoration of your firearm rights.
Your firearms rights will be automatically restored 15 years after sentence completion unless your felony was for homicide or involved the use of a gun or a knife.
Rights may also be restored by receiving a pardon. If your crime was a nonviolent felony, you could regain your firearms rights by petitioning the court and providing evidence that you do not pose a threat to public safety.
Firearms rights in Pennsylvania are lost for certain violent felony offenses, for drug crimes with a sentence exceeding 2 years, for 3 or more DUIs in a 5-year period, and for domestic violence.
Rights will be restored 10 years after sentence completion, after receiving a pardon, or after having the conviction set aside.
You will not be able to own or use a firearm if you were convicted of a violent offense. Otherwise, rights can be restored if the offense is eligible for expungement.
Felons convicted of a violent offense may obtain restoration of gun rights upon receiving a pardon.
No loss of firearms rights unless convicted of a violent crime or certain drug felonies. In those cases, rights will be automatically restored 15 years after completion of the sentence, or maybe restored earlier with a pardon.
The laws in this state are complex and subject to many ongoing changes. Seek legal advice.
You may own a gun that you keep solely at your home after 5 years have passed since you completed your sentence. Full rights are restored if your conviction is set aside.
Firearm rights can only be restored if you receive a pardon or have your conviction expunged.
No loss of firearm rights upon conviction. You’ll need to have your conviction expunged or pardoned to comply with federal law.
Gun rights can only be restored with a pardon or an application to the court.
Rights may be restored via a pardon issued by the Governor or via an application for expungement.
Rights will only be restored via a governor’s pardon or set aside by the court.
Firearms rights can only be restored by a governor’s pardon.
Felons convicted of a violent offense are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms, and rights may only be restored via a governor’s pardon.
Can felons go to the gun range? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
You would take an enormous risk with your freedom if you attended a gun range, whether that’s with the intention of firing a weapon or merely accompanying a friend or family member.
As a felon, you need to be super careful around guns and you need to take care not to put yourself in a position that could be construed as constructive possession.
If it’s at all possible, look into the possibility of getting your felony reduced to a misdemeanor, expunged, or pardoned.
You may think that would be impossible, but depending on your offense, it may actually be very possible. And getting the felony off your record will make your life better in so many ways that it’s an option worth investigating.
Read Also: Can Felons Hunt With A Bow?
Robert Eric (a lover of Cats and Dogs) is the co-founder of HireFelonsJobs. In our search for a better life, after… A platform was created for the purpose of easing the search for ex-convicts.