Is a muzzleloader considered a firearm
It’s illegal for any convicted felon to possess a firearm, but there seems to be an understandable amount of confusion among those who, in their past, have had run-ins with the law and are now wondering if they can take up hunting by means of a muzzleloader because a muzzleloading rifle is technically not considered a firearm.
However, this designation is not intended for the benefit of the purchaser, but rather, for the benefit of the manufacturer as well as the retailer. The fact that black powder muzzleloading rifles and pistols are not considered firearms means that they can avoid many state and federal regulations. Thus if your grandpa has a woodworking shop and his hobby is crafting beautiful hand made flintlock rifles, he can do so without needing to have a federal firearms license.
A muzzleloader is considered a weapon as opposed to a firearm. However, this fact doesn’t mean that a convicted felon interested in participating in the upcoming hunting season can go out and purchase one. Here are some reasons why:
First, it’s always dependent upon the individual police officer’s interpretation and knowledge of the law that will determine whether or not he considers the convicted felon’s present situation to be that of being “in possession” of a firearm. Police officers are not walking legal libraries, and they don’t need to be. They need only to protect and serve. It’s up to the defense lawyer to have (or gain) full knowledge of the laws regarding the status of muzzleloading firearms as they apply to the circumstances under which the arrest was made.
So let’s say, hypothetically, that you are a wildlife officer. You meet a hunter, and he has a muzzleloading rifle in his hand. You run his identification and discover he has a felonly record. Maybe you can look the other way, but what happens if that guy later commits a crime with that same weapon? The wildlife officer is more likely to choose to err on the side of caution and make the arrest. Besides, once the arrest is made, his part of the job is finished. He can then let the lawyers sort the whole thing out.
To further complicate the issue, there are many modern black powder muzzleloading rifles that can be easily converted to shoot regular bullets. Thus, these types are considered firearms.
The bottom line of this is that if you’re a convicted felon who has served his time, you should cherish your freedom and choose to take up fishing instead of hunting. Why take a chance on losing 15 or more years of your life sitting in prison just because you wanted to shoot a deer?
It later occurred to me that bow hunting is another option that would keep a felon out of trouble while allowing him to hunt. There is no law stating that a convicted felon can not own a compound archery bow. Furthermore, you can use a bow and arrow during archery season, general gun season as well as small game season, but can’t use one during black powder season (check to verify the regulations for the area you plan hunt).