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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10 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:

      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.

  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.

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