Can a Felon Own A Muzzleloader

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 is that if you’re a convicted felon who has served his time, you should cherish your freedom. Why take a chance on losing 15 or more years of your life sitting in prison just because you wanted to shoot a deer?

Bow hunting is an alternative that will keep a felon out of trouble while allowing him to hunt. There is no law stating that a convicted felon can not own a bow and arrow. Furthermore, you can use a bow during archery season, general gun season as well as small game season, but not during black powder season (check to verify the regulations for the area you plan hunt).

For about the same price as a new muzzleloader, you could get a brand new compound bow and a handful of arrows with broadheads.

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32 thoughts on “Can a Felon Own A Muzzleloader

  1. Rob says:

    Thank you for the information. In my family hunting has always been a right of passage of sorts, when I was just twelve years old my grandfather bought me a lifetime hunting/fishing license. In my teen years my parents got a divorce, looking back on this I believe I blamed myself for their problems; around this time I started getting into drugs. After graduating through many different substances I somehow landed face first in an opiate addiction. While working two jobs trying make enough money to feed my shamefull habbit, a “friend” of mine introduced me to an abandoned warehouse full of mass amounts of scrap metal. The enticing lure of easy money for our heroin addiction drove us to go into this warehouse and take about $1,000 worth of copper. About a month later I was really trying my hardest to quit using opiates, I had bought methadone and haden’t used in about three days. This was when an officer came into my workplace and arrested me, saying ‘we have your buddy and he told us everything”. So they booked me and sent me to jail for a year. I was charged and convicted of burglary 3rd degree and criminal mischief, also I was given 5 year felony probation. So here I sit two years later, I’m alive living clean and sober. I’m making ammends for all the problems my addiction caused. I just feel so hurt that I can never go hunting with my family ever again. I feel that my whole future shouldn’t have to suffer for some stupid mistakes I’ve made in the past :/

    • GaryH says:

      Rob,
      I agree with you and have always felt that once a person’s jail sentence is finished, their punishment should also be finished and that there should be no further ramifications, such as job discrimination and the like. It’s sad you can’t hunt, but as I mentioned in the post you can hunt with bow and arrow. Doing so is much more difficult because you have to be so much closer to the animals. Most people bow hunt from a tree stand, some from a blind, but it’s still hunting none-the-less.

  2. Curtis says:

    Hunting is not the point, it’s hunting with a black powder muzzle loading rifle. I too have a drug felony but I also have a theft felony, NO VIOLENT felonies. The theft was behind a drug addiction so both of them would be for a drug addiction. I have a son that not only do I want to teach how to hunt with a gun but I want to teach him how to aim and fire a gun. The way this world is headed it may not be much longer until we have to defend ourselves, and our loved ones with something more than sticks and strings. I want to teach him how to aim a gun, expect the kick, and get ready to shoot again if needed. The bow and arrow is great because there’s no noise but you can’t shoot it as fast as a gun. If I can teach my son’s to aim and shoot a gun then I know that they’ll be able to defend themselves, if the need should arise. I can only do that with a muzzle loading gun. If, God forbid, they ever get in a situation where they have to protect themselves, with a GUN, then I know that they’ll know how to use one, safely and properly. I shouldn’t be punished for ever and my sons shouldn’t be robbed of the chance to protect themselves because I’m unable to instruct them how to do so, with whatever means necessary.

    • GaryH says:

      Curtis, This is a really good point. Perhaps something worth writing to your congressman about. As for me, I learned how to shoot using a BB Gun. All the principals are the same minus recoil. I shot a BB Gun from 3rd grade until I was 18 years old. During that time I shot a few 22s in Boy Scouts but didn’t have my first rifle until after I was 18.

  3. Ken Swagg says:

    I contacted the state police in VA and they told me it was definitely was against the law for a convicted felon to carry a black powder gun.

  4. Steven says:

    I was convicted of a fish & game crime of conspiracy to catch a fish by means of snagging. This carry’s a felony which has also taken my rights of owning a firearm. This has been the hardest to accept because hunting is a huge part of my life. I am a father of 3. 2 of my children have recently got their hunting license and hoped to go hunt with their dad. I hate to think that a simple mistake for which i never stayed a single day in jail over would restrict us from enjoying a god given right of passage every father and child should enjoy. Feel failed by our justice system.

      • Joe Pittman says:

        just cause u get it expunged the ATF will not honor that. if they see something is expunged they will just toss the paperwork. i got this info from a ATF agent and former Secret Service agent.

  5. MERCURY75 says:

    REALLY my question is if you did a felony that DID NOT contained a fire arm what RIGHT do they have to say you can NO longer PROVIDE FOOD in the winter for your FAMILY

  6. BobWhitehall says:

    Under Federal law it is fine for a former felon to have flintlock or percussion guns and caps and powder. It is not okay to have 209 primers. State laws vary widely, but many like Texas and Tenn specifically allow possession of and hunting with muzzleloaders by felons.

  7. phil says:

    Is there a group of people or organization who are actually taking steps/action to help people who find themselves in this rediculous situation? The truth is that the so called avenue to get rights restored is very unlikely, not to mention exspensive and time consuming. Everyone makes mistakes, the only difference is some get cought. Even then if you have enough money and or know the right people you get a pass. My point is our justice system is far from fair/ perfect, and people who find themselves caught in this nightmare we need to organize and stick together. As I have read many feel once you have paid your so called dues which in many cases the individual is not guilty, rather ignorant and unepuipped/inexpeirenced with the justice sysrem should not be branded for life. I have heard many go on about their mistake or crime was not violent, thats great and you most likely would have an easier time trying to navigate the joke of a process in which to get rights restored. I ask that you keep in mind that a simple fist fight or altercation can be considered a felony and their are plenty of people who end up with a felony because of this. I could elaborate but this topic makes my blood boil, my life/ hobbies have been the outdoors since I can remember and because of a fight at the age of 18.

    • GaryH says:

      You make a great point. and I agree. Once you’ve served your time, you’ve “officially” repaid your debt to society and should therefore get all rights restored, but not to long ago I heard someone say that no politician in America will ever want to be known as the guy who put guns back in the hands of convicted felons. He would lose every election from then on. So no one will ever put forth any effort into fixing this problem unless a majority of voters wanted it; which they don’t.

      • Kenny says:

        Gary, you sound like one of those voters or politicians that won’t.. Quote un quote. In fact your whole article sounds like it is trying to convince felons that its really truly in the end dumb to try and get a muzzle loader because even though it is still their legal right to its still not because a officer that choses to …. Let’s see…you called it use his discretion when really hes not, the law is the law by definition of its wording at that, annndd he does have to know the law. Especially gun laws when its a game warden that deals with it on a daily basis…you sound bias in your article and ridiculous, also in your replies. It’s a lie when you say voters don’t want to see guns in the hands of felons and a politician definitely would not touch the situation… Because just the opposite happened in mo. And the few and the top on a power trip started to bring in small bill , laws , redefine words in the bill that allowed it and whatever just to stop it.. I could go on to make a solid case to why and how your article is misleading as well as your comments but this is… quite frankly, starting to bore me.

  8. Bert says:

    My felony was over 25 years ago . My local police say I can muzzleloader hunt to feed my family cuz I’m low income. Anyone can go into a rifle shop and buy a muzzleloader without a background check therefore why should it be illegal to own a muzzleloader if there is no background checks this is what I don’t understand there’s no registration of a muzzleloader and anyone can buy one so why is it illegal for a felon to own or possess or to hunt with a muzzleloader if using a number 11 primer it is not considered a modern gun everyone needs to look under the federal right to hunt act it is so confusing because the state law says one thing but federal says other state law is governed by federal law on firearms. So what does a person do ????????

    • GaryH says:

      You are absolutely correct. Anyone, regardless of their status, can simply go online and purchase a muzzleloader. There’s no background check and no questions asked. It will be shipped to your house. The UPS man will simply ring your door bell, set it down on your porch and walk away. I’ve used this method twice. But the point i make in this article, which is emphasized by the court case linked in the text of the article is: What happens when a Fish & Wildlife officer confronts you and begins to question you? Just like the man in the court case linked above, you might get arrested. Then what do you do? Spend ten thousand dollars on a lawyer to prove you were not breaking any law.

  9. Sandra Hopkins says:

    I am trying to find out how my husband can get his rights back after having a simple drug felon. it has been over 32 years ago when he was convicted of this charge against him. he has NOT been in any trouble since this charge and evidently has learned his lesson. and has and did pay for his wrong choice he made at a young age. and do you know if he would be allowed to use a Muzzleloader to hunt with within the law? I do appreciate any help or info. would really love for my husband to be able to just simply deer hunt. Thanks in advance for your help. Georgia residence.

  10. Barry says:

    As I sit here on the eve of Michigan’s deer Gun season. I’m saddened with the thought that I can never take my kids gun hunting.
    This is one of the few things that kept me out of trouble.
    I am a three time convicted felon , my charges are as follows. I was 17 when I did the dumb deed but ,eighteen when I was convicted
    Att uttering and publishing. $122 dollar check my buddy and I found and cashed at a party store
    Art b and e in a boat. 17 18 year’s old. Again
    And last but not least I thought it would be cool to grow some marijuana , again I got caught,
    Now I’m 42 haven’t been in trouble in a long while.
    It is my job as a father to teach my kids what I know. I’ve have already been caught once .the judge said it was a complete tradgesty that I could not get my gun rights restored .
    I think I will try my luck. But with my history of getting caught maybe I won’t

  11. Randy Phillips says:

    Luckily I’ve only had a misdemeanor, But yea if I cud I wud grant all you felons the right to protect yourselves and hunt game. I live in the gustapo state of California. We are limited to a 10 round capacity magazine. We got bullet buttons that takes a tool to release our mags. We can’t open carry. The gun we purchase has to be on a Calif approved list, we have to wait 10 days b4 we can pick up our guns.
    I feel our rights are degrading and closing up. I enjoy those shows on Alaska where there is still some freedom. I wud go cept, it’s too cold and no Taco Bell nearby.

  12. Greg says:

    The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) prohibits felons and certain other persons from possessing or
    receiving firearms and ammunition (“prohibited persons”). These categories can be found at 18
    U.S.C. § 922(g) and (n) in http://atf.gov/publications/download/p/atf-p-5300-4.pdf.
    However, Federal law does not prohibit these persons from possessing or receiving an antique
    firearm. The term “antique firearm” means any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock,
    flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898. The
    definition includes any replica of an antique firearm if it is not designed or redesigned for using
    rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or uses rimfire or conventional centerfire
    ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States, and which is not readily available
    in ordinary channels of commercial trade. Further, any muzzle loading rifle, shotgun, or pistol which
    is designed to use black powder or black powder substitute, and which cannot use fixed ammunition,
    is an “antique firearm” unless it (1) incorporates a firearm frame or receiver; (2) is a firearm which is
    converted into a muzzle loading weapon; or (3) is a muzzle loading weapon which can be readily
    converted to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, breechblock, or any combination
    thereof. See 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3), (a)(16).
    Thus, a muzzle loading weapon that meets the definition of an “antique firearm” is not a firearm and
    may lawfully be received and possessed by a prohibited person under the GCA.
    In addition, the GCA defines the term “ammunition” to mean “ammunition or cartridge cases,
    primers, bullets, or propellant powder designed for use in any firearm.” Because an “antique firearm”
    is not a “firearm,” it would is lawful for a prohibited person to receive or possess black powder
    designed for use in an “antique firearm.” Also, the Federal explosives laws do not make it unlawful
    for a prohibited person to acquire and possess black powder in quantities not exceeding fifty pounds
    if it is intended to be used solely for sporting, recreational, or cultural purposes in “antique firearms.”
    See 18 U.S.C. § 845(a)(5)
    By contrast, a prohibited person may not receive or possess black powder firearms that can be readily
    converted to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, breechblock, or any combination
    thereof. ATF has classified certain muzzle loading models as firearms. All of these models
    incorporate the frame or receiver of a firearm that is capable of accepting barrels designed to fire
    conventional rimfire or centerfire fixed ammunition. These muzzle loading models do not meet the
    definition of “antique firearm” as that term is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(16), and are “firearms”
    as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3). Furthermore, as firearms, these and similar models, regardless of
    the barrel installed on the firearm or provided with the firearm, are subject to all provisions of the
    GCA. Persons who purchase these firearms from licensed dealers are required to fill out a Firearms
    Transaction Record, ATF Form 4473, and are subject to a National Instant Criminal Background
    Check System (NICS) check. Felons and other prohibited persons may not lawfully receive or
    possess these firearms or ammunition.
    The following is a list of weapons that load from the muzzle and are classified as firearms, not
    antiques, under the GCA, because they incorporate the frame or receiver of a firearm:- 2 –
    • Savage Model 10ML (early, 1st version)
    • Mossberg 500 shotgun with muzzle loading barrel
    • Remington 870 shotgun with muzzle loading barrel
    • Mauser 98 rifle with muzzle loading barrel
    • SKS rifle with muzzle loading barrel
    • PB sM10 pistol with muzzle loading barrel
    • H&R/New England Firearm Huntsman
    • Thompson Center Encore/Contender
    • Rossi .50 muzzle loading rifle
    This list is not complete and frequently changes. There may be other muzzle loaders also classified as
    firearms. As noted, any muzzle loading weapon that is built on a firearm frame or receiver falls
    within the definition of a firearm provided in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3).

  13. Angie says:

    u can’t not use a muzzle loader for hunting in state of Tennessee..we found that out the hard way,we are trying to fight it but it’s not looking good we have 3boys and their daddy can’t take them hunting.cause of drug charge that wasn’t even pertaining to a gun he got charge with resale and still can’t have ANY TYPE OF WEAPONS EXCEPT A BOW YOU CAN TEACH THEM HOW TO BOW HUNT!!! Furthermore just because you done something stupid along time ago and NO GUN WAS FOUND OR USED TO GET THIS FELONY CHARGE, I REALLY DON’T THINK IT’S IT THAT A FELON CAN’T HAVE SOME TYPE OF WAY TO PROTECT HIS FAMILY AS THE WORLD IS TODAY CRAZY WHAT IS OUR CHILDREN’S CHANCES OR OUR CHANCES OF SURVIVING A BREAK IN WITH OTHERS COMING IN WITH GUNS?? I am sorry just cause you have a drug charge should not have to be punished all their life from hunting or protection for his family of a wife with 8 kids and I can’t have gun in home cause of his charges??? CRAZY WORLD OUT THERE.. I FEEL THAT THIS SHOULD GO IN FRONT OF WHO EVER A FELON OR NOT SHOULD BE ABLE TO PROTECT HIS HOME. SOME ONE BRAKING IN NOT GOING TO WAIT TO LET HIM GET HIS CROSS BOW AND ARROWS OUT…

    • doemeg says:

      I know someone in MA who committed a home invasion armed with a rifle and served ten years in prison for the crime he was convicted of. Now, he is running around the woods with a muzzle loader after he terrorized an innocent family with a young child in hysterics while he was committing the crime. In a decent and smart world, he would never again have access to a gun of any type. You want to deer hunt? Then don’t commit a crime. Simple.

      • Christian McFarland says:

        F%@& you doemeg I guess your perfect or just lucky u haven’t been caught I have 2nonviolent felonies and 2 grandsons that I cannot teach what my father&grandfather taught me and my brothers &cousin’s something thats been a part of our family for generations my great grandmother was pure Cherokee indian so I guess since our exsistinses we’ve hunted to tell the truth threw my teenage years the only time I felt safe and free of the pressures of growing up in my town of staying out of troubble was while I was fishing or hunting the memmories of my grandfather,my father and I hunting and fishing are some of the most cherished I have and to think my grandsons wont have the oppertunity to share in this with me breaks my heart !!!!! I paid my debt,did my time and like everyone else almost I was young and ignorant to the consequences of my actions at the time I quarentee you that none of us were thinking of the rest of our lives at the time of our crimes and a majority percent of us were commiting our crimes becuase of a addiction wich our government considers a desease and as I have said NON VIOLENT FELONS should have the right to bare arms not saying have a permit to carry a pistol but at least a shotgun to hunt and protect ourselves and our families,and most important to continue the traditions of our past i feel sorry for a person like yourself that van categorize all people as a group and not as individuals people kill people not guns!!!!

  14. Jzizzle says:

    Um, yeah, don’t exercize your rights because some cops won’t acknowledge your rights. Okay. Great article.

    And yes, cops had better be walking law libraries or they will cost their community dearly when they get sued for a civil rights violation. Knowing people’s rights is part of protecting and serving.

    • GaryH says:

      “Um, yeah, don’t exercise your rights because some cops won’t acknowledge your rights”

      What rights are you talking about? The whole point of this article is that felons no longer have the right to bear arms. The question being discussed here is whether or not a muzzleloader is considered a firearm.

  15. J says:

    Simply put, laws need to be amended to allow non-violent non-weapon related felons who served their sentence and aren’t on parole or probation to own a firearm.

  16. Christian McFarland says:

    I appolagize for my choice of words towards doemeg that was wrong of me. I really dont think she gets what were saying none of us would condone at least I know I wouldn’t ,a person who committed a home invasion were a person used a fire arm should be permitted to own any type of wepon again let alone have his freedom!! A person of that nature who is capable of a crime of that nature should not be allowed to breathe the same air as me in my opinion

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