Can a felon own a gun

Can a Felon Own a Gun?

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.

90 thoughts on “Can a Felon Own a Gun?”

    1. 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.

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

    2. WipeRecord Team

      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!

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

    1. WipeRecord Team

      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.

  2. 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.

    1. WipeRecord Team

      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

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. Caesar Holmes II

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

    1. WipeRecord Team

      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:

  7. Rodney Williams

    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?

    1. WipeRecord Team

      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.

  8. 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

  9. 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

    1. WipeRecord Team

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

  10. 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.

    1. WipeRecord Team

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

  11. 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.

    1. WipeRecord Team

      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.

  12. 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?

    1. WipeRecord Team

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

  13. 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?

    1. WipeRecord Team

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

    2. 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.

    1. WipeRecord Team

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

    2. 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.

  14. Pingback: Gun Rights Support Increases in America | WipeRecord | WipeRecord

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

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

  16. 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.

  17. 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

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

  18. 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?


  19. 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?

  20. 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?

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

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