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Can a felon own a gun

Can a Felon Own a Gun?

September 18, 2021
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Gun Ownership with a Felony

At WipeRecord, we’re asked the same question every day: can a felon own a gun? The general answer to this question is no, a felon cannot legally own a firearm under federal or state law. However, in many cases it is possible to fully restore your 2nd Amendment rights.

Current federal law does not allow you to restore your firearm rights after a conviction under federal law. In contrast, many states have laws allowing you to restore your firearm rights for state felonies.

Many states have laws allowing you to restore your firearm rights when they have been taken away because of a felony conviction under state law.

So how do you get your right to own a gun back if you’ve got a felony? Unfortunately, the answer depends on many factors, the most important being the state the felony conviction was in.

In this article we cover the following topics about gun ownership with a felony:

  1. Federal and state laws prohibiting felons from gun ownership.
  2. How to restore your 2nd Amendment rights with a felony.
  3. What you need to do to get started restoring your gun rights.

Laws that Stop Felons from Owning Guns & Ammo

Both state and federal laws prohibit felons from owning guns to some degree.  In some cases, state law may allow you to own a gun while federal law does not. It is important for you to understand that to legally own a firearm you must be able to do so under both federal and state law. If you can legally own a gun under state law but are prohibited under federal law, you can be convicted as a felon in possession of a firearm. This is almost always a felony and a serious federal crime.

Can Felon Own a Gun Under Federal Law?

At the federal level, the main law you need to be familiar is the Gun Control Act of 1968 (the “GCA”). The GCA prohibits felons from owning guns and causes them to fail National Instant Criminal Background Checks (NICS) when trying to purchase guns. Felons who have lost their firearm rights may also not purchase ammunition 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). “Ammunition” is defined as “cartridge cases, primers, bullets, or propellant powder designed for use in any firearm.” 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(17)(A).

Can a Felon Own a Gun Under State Law?

Laws that restrict felons from gun ownership at a state level are unique and vary from state to state. In most states a felony conviction results in a lifetime ban on owning a gun. Many of those states have legal methods to restore gun rights, but the ban is otherwise permanent.

Some states, like New York, take away your rights for felonies and some misdemeanors. Other states like Kansas do not take away your gun rights for all felony convictions, and the restriction is not indefinite. This may sound great if you have a felony conviction in a state like Kansas, but remember that you must also have your federal firearm rights restored to legally own or possess a gun.

Some states like Nevada and Colorado do not have a method to restore your gun rights. If your felony was in one of these states, you’re unfortunately out of luck unless the Governor pardons you. In contrast, Texas restores your gun rights automatically 5 years after you finish your sentence.  There are some limitations to Texas’ automatic restoration of state gun rights, but it’s more important to understand that this does not restore your federal firearm rights. This means that a federal agent or law enforcement agency would view you as illegally owning a gun and could charge you with a felony.

Now that we’ve covered the laws that take away your gun rights, let’s move on to how you can get your 2nd Amendment rights back.

Restoring Your 2nd Amendment Right to Own a Gun

When you restore your right to own a gun under state law, it often restores your rights federally as well. However, this is not always the case. It is very important to understand how state law works with the GCA to fully restore your gun rights.

Remember, you need both your gun rights under both federal and state law to avoid criminal prosecution for being a felon in possession of a firearm. 

One of the more complicated issues in restoring gun rights is how state and federal law work together. You cannot restore your gun rights directly at the federal level.  Instead, you must use state law to restore your firearms in state court, and then federal agencies like the ATF and FBI must accept the legal action taken at the state level to restore your federal rights. This is a complicated area of law and success requires a deep understanding of state and federal firearm laws.

Which State Laws Restore Federal Firearm Rights?

The ATF takes the position that “if the conviction was set aside or expunged; the person was pardoned; or, the person’s civil rights – the right to vote, sit on a jury, and hold elected office – were restored,” then your firearm rights are also restored federally. In plain English this just means that the state must restore all of your civil rights that were taken away by your conviction to also restore your firearm rights. The civil rights that must be restored include your right to vote, serve on a jury, and hold elected office.

Oregon’s firearm rights restoration law is helpful in understanding this legal concept. Oregon has a method to restore your firearm rights under ORS 161.705. However, Oregon’s Constitution also provides that you cannot serve on a jury if you have been convicted of a felony in the last 15 years. This means that if you were convicted of a felony in the past 15 years, an Oregon firearm rights restoration wouldn’t restore all of your civil rights. As a result, an Oregon firearm rights restoration would not restore your federal firearm rights if your felony conviction was in the last 5 years.

Click here to take our Free Gun Rights Eligibility Test

Using State Law to Restore Your Right to Own a Gun

Fortunately, most states have a legal way to restore your right to own a gun. Each state has its own, unique requirements you must satisfy. After meeting these legal requirements, most of these state laws give a judge the final say on whether to restore your firearm rights. This means that you must meet the legal requirements of the law and also convince a judge that restoring your firearm rights is in the best interest of justice and will not endanger the public.

You need to understand the specific legal requirements of the state you’re restoring your rights in before starting the process to get your gun rights back. To better understand these legal requirement, here are some links to other articles that provide greater detail:

If you have lost your rights and wish to restore them, the first step is to see if you’re eligible by taking the firearm rights eligibility test.

Our firm has years of experience in representing clients in matters of firearm restoration across multiple states. These can be complicated matters and self-representation can often create more problems than it solves. If you are interested in pursuing restoration, please contact us immediately so that we can start work on your case.

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Comments ( 90 )

  1. Randy says:

    So if I have completed all of my deferred adjudication in Texas, can I restore my gun rights and get my rights back?

    • WipeRecord Team says:

      Randy – Give us a call at 844-947-3732 to discuss your situation. We offer a free consultation and a low price guarantee on all of our services.

  2. Sam says:

    I’m a convicted felon I have drug conviction from 1999 I have finished my whole sentence can I get a gun license

  3. Jeff says:

    Filing for ” Relief of Weapon under disability “

  4. Harlem Ray Patterson says:

    I would like to know how I can go by restoring my rights back to carry a gun and expunge my records???

  5. michael says:

    can you help in GA

    • WipeRecord Team says:

      Hi Michael. We currently do not operate in Georgia but we should be there very soon. Check back often!

    • WipeRecord Team says:

      Hi Michael, We will be operational in GA within 30 days or so. Please join our facebook page to see updates on new states we are entering and also check back often with our website. We will be there very soon!

  6. Kyle o says:

    Is there any way to restore my rights to own a gun with a class a felony conviction in wa state?

  7. Arnold says:

    Do you guys do services in Ohio ?

  8. Antoin Townsend says:

    Can you help me get my rights restored in WA state?

  9. Gerald says:

    Do you have any information reguarding Michigan I would love to take my sons hunting some day thanks in advance!

    • WipeRecord Team says:

      Gerald, we will be operational in Michigan within 30 days or so. Please contact us at 844-947-3732 in April or May to discuss options to assist with your gun rights restoration to determine your eligibility.

  10. Zach says:

    I have convictions in 4 counties in California all are non violent and all are over 5 years old I’m having trouble getting jobs that I’m qualified for please help.

  11. keihin says:

    I have a conviction in Alabama but I live in north Carolina now can you help

    • WipeRecord Team says:

      Hi Keihin,

      We don’t operate in Alabama yet, but we plan to be there soon. Keep checking back often – we will be operating in Alabama soon. Call us at 844-947-3732 if you have any questions.

      WipeRecord Team

  12. Ray Greene Jr says:

    I have 2 domestic Violence conviction and 2 drug trafficking convictionsconvictions stemming back to 1996. I have been off papers and out of trouble since 2001 will I ever be eligible to own a gun in ohio. If not how can we work together to change these laws. I’m a community activists and run one of the largest electoral programs.

  13. Buddy says:

    Need services in Georgia.

  14. Bernard Coe says:

    Ohio, I was charged with a few felonys in 1996 when they raided my cousins house, not because I had anything to do with any of it but because he was 17 and I was 20 and been targeted every since because of it but if i could get my record clean about how much would that cost

  15. Brandon says:

    I’m a two time convicted felon in Florida my charges are grand larceny and a drug charge but I would like to go into the navy seals or go into the marine’s with getting my rights restored could I still go into the military

  16. Shawn says:

    So can I get my gun right back if im a convicted felon with a class B aggravated battery in Indiana?

  17. Antony says:

    I leave in ohio

  18. Antony says:

    I live in ohio

  19. Caesar Holmes II says:

    I reside in California but have a felony in North Carolina 17 years ago.Am I cleared for California?

    • WipeRecord Team says:

      Caesar, we can look into this for you but we currently do not service North Carolina. We plan to soon. Please give us a call Monday-Friday at 844-947-3732 to discuss this with one of our agents. You can also take our free, secure, confidential eligibility test by clicking this link: http://3.15.182.140/wordpress/eligibility-test

  20. Tim says:

    How about Florida?

  21. Rodney Williams says:

    I’m a convicted felon in Florida with a aggravated battery charge from 1996. Did 15 yrs of probation and got off in 2012. Have not been in trouble since 1996. Is there anyway I can get my gun rights restored?

  22. Cory says:

    Do you work with Kansas

    • WipeRecord Team says:

      Cory – not yet but check back in 30-60 days because we will be soon. Follow us on Facebook as well for updates about new states we are entering.

  23. greg says:

    I live in il, dui, 1995?

  24. WILLIEAU SAINT LOUIS says:

    I would like to know if I could get Wipe my records

  25. Teddy says:

    Federal non violent drug conviction.. off paper work and years behind me. Is owning a gun possible ?

  26. Kevin Norris says:

    I have a non violent felony of forgery which is 7 years old and haven’t been in any trouble of any kind. I live in Texas and was wondering if I could own a gun

  27. LaTroye Irvin says:

    Do you operate in the State of Florida?

  28. Robert says:

    How about new york

  29. David Black says:

    I was convicted of a felony drug charge in 2001 only did county time never went prison could I be eligible to get my gun rights back. I live and was convicted in california

    • WipeRecord Team says:

      Hi David – it looks like you may be eligible! Give us a call or take our eligibility test.

  30. mark says:

    In October 1987 i pleaded guilty to 2 class d felonies for maintaining a common nuisance and possession of marijuana. I I served 6 months in county jail and 6 months probation. Never had an arrest prior to that or since then.

    • WipeRecord Team says:

      Mark – thanks for your comment – please call us at 844-947-3732 to speak with a criminal records analyst.

  31. Luis says:

    I can’t believe all the bullshit, people make mistake, we are humans, some one get a conviction, and is so hard for them to get a job, and people say why they went back to do the same thing, because the mistake of the pass still hunting them. My friend got convicted 20 years ago, n still use that against him even for a stop sign, how can we change that n don’t use the pass to keep punishing my friend n other in same situation. Thank you.

    • WipeRecord Team says:

      Luis, we agree that the system needs reform. In some states this is happening, in others, it is not. We hope to see faster and more all-encompassing expungement reform across the nation soon.

  32. eric says:

    i have a misdemeanor 1 in PA for a second offense DUI, i was told my only hope of ever being able to own a firearm again is to get a governors pardon, which takes forever and likely wont be successful, is this true?

    • WipeRecord Team says:

      Eric – please give us a call so we can better understand your situation. Thanks!

  33. robert says:

    Got 3 feloneys 2 vilont one non vilont. 86.93 and 04. First one California the other 2 iowa. Is there any chance i can get my rights back?

    • WipeRecord Team says:

      Hi Robert – please call us to discuss your situation. We need to see if you’re eligible.

    • admin_WR says:

      Give us a call today at 844-947-3732 if you haven’t already so that we can take a look into this for you. Free Consultation and Low Cost Guarantee on all of our services – FYI.

  34. Chris says:

    What about AZ

  35. Chris says:

    Have a friend that has been to prison for an extreme dui n wants to know if he is eligible

    • WipeRecord Team says:

      Hi Chris – please have your friend call us so we can better understand his situation. Thanks!

    • admin_WR says:

      Give us a call today at 844-947-3732 if you haven’t already so that we can take a look into this for your friend. Even if we aren’t in AZ yet, we can take down your info and let you know once we enter that state. Free Consultation and Low Cost Guarantee on all of our services – FYI.

  36. […] like?  What does less gun control really look like?  Should there be extended background checks? Should felons be allowed to restore their firearm rights?  Usually the most extreme viewpoints make the soundboard.  There should be hardened numbers that […]

  37. James says:

    Q,can a federal felony(non violent non drug )conviction be wipe clean that is over 35 yrs old??

    • admin_WR says:

      James – please call us at 844-947-3732 today to discuss your non violent drug felony conviction.

  38. phil says:

    I have 2felony convictions in NY, one for forgery n other for insurance fraud can I get record clean so I can carry?

  39. Charles Ganoung says:

    So I have applied for my pistol permit in Cattaraugus County, every count in NY has there own policies on pistol permits, it has been 16 weeks since my fp and pics. I called our county pistol permit clerk last week and she told me I had an interview with the under sheriff and will call to let me know when. I know I had a misdemeanor back in 91. So my question is if they decide I can’t get a pp then what do I do? Now remind you it takes 7 to 9 months for the interview from the date I went for fp and pics which was 6/7/2016.

  40. Rob says:

    I was convicted of a felony back in 1990…robbery youthful offender with my record seal.. is there anyway to restore my gun rights?…Thanks in advance

  41. Rob says:

    I live in New York

  42. Michael M says:

    Do you operate in Michigan? If so, please contact me.

  43. Jerry says:

    Have deceptive practice charge almost 15 years ago in Illinois can i get them back here

    • admin_WR says:

      Jerry – please call us at 844-947-3732 or take our eligibility test to see if you’re eligible. Thanks!

  44. Bryan says:

    Hello,
    I had a domestic violence on my record in AZ, back when I was 18. I an 41 now and live in California, should that be expunged already?

    Thanks!

  45. Vanessa says:

    I live in montana and have a nonviolent felony for a bad check charge it has been over 7 years ago am I qualified to own a gun?

  46. Jimmie Farris says:

    I have a felony for arson.The F.B.I.sat on the witness stand and admitted they had no witnesses and ABSOLUTELY no evidence against me .For the simple fact I DID NOT DO IT! Many,many months after my ARREST I still told the F.B.I.I was taking my case to trial. On one of those occasions I was cuffed and shackled ,thrown against a concrete block wall and was told I would confess or the refusal would be disastrous for my wife.Yes,folks it happens in the U.S.A.AT THE TIME I was 63 yrs old and never,never been in trouble with the law,never even had them called on me and my last traffic violation was 23yrs.ago.My health is failing and I’m told I have no right to protect my wife from intruders.What has our country come to?

    • Jordan Myres says:

      Hey Jimmie,
      Please visit our website and take our free eligibility test to see if you qualify, thank you!

  47. Jimmie Farris says:

    Incidentally I DID NOT HAVE A GUN AT THE TIME OF MY ARREST.

  48. […] have questions about firearm possession and ownership. A popular question that we hear is, can a felon own a gun? If an ex-felon successfully restores their firearm rights, it’s possible for them to legally […]

  49. Vincent Cisneros says:

    Do you operate in Utah

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Disclaimer: The material on this blog has been prepared and is copyrighted by WipeRecord, a division of Eastman, Libersat & Meyler, PC ("WipeRecord"). The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Information provided by or cited to third parties does not necessarily reflect the opinions of WipeRecord or any of its attorneys or clients. Results of any expungement or restoration of civil and/or firearm rights may vary from case to case. We obtained your email address when you took the eligibility test on our website. Please note that prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisement. Please refer to our website for prices. This is a legal advertisement. If you have already hired or retained a lawyer in connection with your gun rights restoration, please disregard this letter. Our lawyers do not have professional liability insurance.