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Can a Felon go to a Gun Range?

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When you could go where you wanted before your conviction, you may have gone to a gun range for recreation and to practice your shooting skills. Now that you have been released from incarceration, you may want to go there again.

The question is whether you can legally do so. Can a felon go to a gun range?

We have some answers for you here.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:

  • What Is a Gun Range?
  • Loss of Firearm Rights
  • Gun Control Act
  • Background Check at a Gun Range?
  • Restoring Gun Rights
  • Deciding Whether to Go to a Gun Range


What Is a Gun Range?

A gun range is a facility at which you can practice your shooting skills by firing at a stationary target or bullseye. 

It is often connected to a gun store where someone can buy, sell, or rent guns and ammunition. While some gun ranges are outdoors, most are indoor facilities. 

A gun range offers an assortment of pistols and sometimes rifles to rent. Guns are typically rented for a flat fee with an additional fee for time on the shooting range. 

Typical rules on a gun range are for safety purposes and relate to such things as the handling of a gun there along with shooting regulations that must be followed on the range. 

All of these guidelines are for the safety of the person shooting as well as others who are at the range.

They include keeping the gun unloaded until the shooter is on the firing line, pointing the gun down range only, and firing only at the target.

Loss of Firearm Rights

It is actually quite clear what happens to your firearm rights after a felony conviction. The law states that it shall be unlawful for any person who has been convicted of a felony to own or possess a firearm.

Anyone who violates this statute shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. 

More specifically, any person who violates this statute by knowingly and intentionally possessing or transporting any firearm and who was previously convicted of a violent felony shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years.

Any person who violates this section by knowingly and intentionally possessing or transporting any firearm and who was previously convicted of any other felony within the prior 10 years shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of two years.  

Mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment stipulated for violations of this law shall be served consecutively with any other sentence.

If those convicted of any felony put themselves in a situation where they are able to physically pick up and fire a gun, they are clearly at risk of breaking the Federal Firearms Act. 

It doesn’t matter if you intended to do so, only whether or not you did. If you do happen to pick up a gun and are caught, you become a felon-in-possession, with no questions asked.

Possession of a firearm is defined as having the means to exercise instant control of a gun, whether the weapon is on or around you or if it is even next to you where you’re sitting or standing. You could be arrested and sent to prison for possession.

In addition to a felony conviction, someone who has been convicted of domestic violence or similar misdemeanor crimes are also prohibited from possessing, purchasing, or carrying a firearm.  

Gun Control Act

Why is this the case? How did this happen? Well, let’s take a look.

The 1968 Gun Control Act is the United States Federal law that prohibits convicted felons from possessing any kind of firearm. This amended the original statute of 1934 to include all persons convicted of any felony, even those that did not involve violence, which is still in effect.  

As a result of the Gun Control Act, most states do not issue gun licenses to convicted felons or anyone convicted of violent crimes such as assault, aggravated robbery, rape, or murder. 

A record of unlawful possession or sale of controlled substances, domestic violence, or having an outstanding arrest warrant can also keep you from obtaining a license to own a firearm.

Background Check at a Gun Range?

Gun ranges will require anyone entering the firing range to sign a waiver stating that he or she understands and will abide by all gun range safety policies. The waiver form typically asks about criminal history.  

It is important to be honest in filling out the waiver. Dishonesty on the form is an offense punishable by prison time as you are committing fraud in not providing honest answers.

Gun stores are required to run a criminal background check on anyone purchasing a gun under the Federal Brady Act of 1994. However, no background check is required to rent a gun to use on a store’s shooting range. 

Actually, a background check is not allowed for gun rentals at a shooting range. To conduct a background check for a gun rental is against the law. This is because a gun store has “constructive possession” of the gun. 

A background check must be done when a store rents a gun for hunting or any other “lawful sporting purpose” away from the store’s property. 

Restoring Gun Rights

While you can’t use or own a firearm and cannot go to a gun range due to federal law, you can regain this right, known as restoring firearm rights

To do so, you must not have been convicted of a ‘forcible’ felony within the past 20 years. Also, at least 20 years must have passed since the end of any incarceration for such a felony.

Next, your criminal history and reputation must show that you will not act in a manner considered dangerous to public safety. Also, restoring your firearm rights must not be considered contrary to the public interest or any federal law.

Another way to have firearm rights restored is by seeking a presidential pardon. In order to obtain a federal pardon, you must wait five years after completing your sentence. Then you may contact the federal government regarding clemency. 

Deciding Whether to Go to a Gun Range

After all this, as a felon, you can go to a firing range. Remember that simply being at a gun range where firearms are present can be cause for arrest for violating the Federal Firearms Act

Think about it. Many off-duty police officers or even parole officers may be present at a firing range for their own shooting practice. As a felon if you are recognized at a gun range you put yourself in serious jeopardy. 

It doesn’t matter whether you are doing target practice at a firing range. Just because you don’t own a gun can still mean being in possession of it.  

The only safe way to go to a gun range is to have your gun rights restored, receive a pardon, or to have your record expunged if you are eligible to do so.

So, before you choose to go to a gun range, think about it. While it may seem like a simple thing to take the opportunity to take target practice at a gun range, you are jeopardizing your freedom. Do you really want to go back to prison just to fire a gun at a target?

Look at how far you have come in setting out to lead an honest lifestyle. Don’t let your past mistakes define you and your future. You are defined by how you respond to those mistakes.

Make a wise choice. You and your family will be glad you did.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of going to a gun range with a felony? What was that like for, and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.

19 thoughts on “Can a Felon go to a Gun Range?”

  1. I was released from state prison in 2019 after three years following a first conviction, a non-violent larceny case. I don’t want a traditional gun, but enjoy shooting air rifles. An air gun doesn’t meet the Supreme Court’s definition of a firearm, but I don’t want to be sitting in prison while my case waits for an appeal. Any thoughts?

  2. First- In reply to the “Make your own guns and start a militia” comment, that sounds great, but unfortunately, the 2nd amendment is not a defense for felon in possession, I literally tried that defense, 5 years in USP Lompoc, and 3 years supervision, was the result (several personal drug possession convictions in the early to mid nineties). I was not committing crimes, just target shooting on private property, with a couple semi auto AKs. As for being around someone with a gun, constructive possesion is defined as a firearm being “1. In ones area of control, and 2. Available for your use. So if someone has a holstered weapon, its not available for your use, even if they are in your car or home. Otherwise it would be illegal for a felon to stand next to a cop, its “in ones area of control” but def not available for their use (unless you found the worlds one cool cop, lol) If a roomate or spouses guns are in a safe, its technichally ok to live in same home, but i seen dudes get jammed up, all the ATF has to do is say you have the key or combo or the person would give it to you if asked. One guy took his gun and sold at pawn shop, after his conviction, got charged with 922.g. Only safe way is to cough up the 1200-1400$ it costs to buy a big bore PCP gun, plus tank or compressor (250$ min) the Hatsan Piledriver has same muzzle energy as a 44 magnum, for 999$, thats what im gonna do.

  3. People convicted of gun felonies should lose their gun rights. Everyone else should get their rights back when their sentence is completed.
    I had a drunk pick a fight with 2 guys. He hit my bro and knocked him down a flight of stairs; then he swung at me. Then he got it good. We ended up taking assault 2 and five years probation. There were no weapons of any kind, just a fist fight, with a few kicks. Why is it I can’t own hunting rifle? Draconian B’s.

  4. It’s good to know that felons can’t visit gun ranges. My brother would like to take me to a gun range soon. I’ll share this information with him so that he can avoid committing any crimes before we go.

  5. The law is the law?
    So you commit a crime you forfeit the god given right to decend yourself, your home and your family even if it was no one was hurt by your crime.
    The law also concicted a 14 year old child of murdering 2 girls amd gave that kid the electric chair then 70 YEARS later decided he was innocent. The law doesnt know anything about anything and if it comes between defending those i love from danger or respecting an oppressive system of bias, classist, racist fantasy rules you can guess which one id side with. Felons are not less than human
    Felons do not lose their unalienable rights
    This should be obvious.

  6. Hell yes your PO could find out. There have been situations where people have had gun shot residue on the skin and been sent back to prison. Your best bet is to stay away and even if a state law says you can do one thing, just remember the courts are biased and love money. They will sell you up the river always because at the end of the day the federal law trumps state. So if there is any gray are, it just became cut and dry.

  7. No personally I think if a convicted felon stays out of trouble for 10 years no misdemeanor no violence or anything within 10 years he or she should have at least their hunting rights back and the right to protect your home go to the gun range within so many miles from your house just so you can cite your weapons in unfortunately that still impossible so basically were stripped of everything

  8. I think there’s a lot of grey area here and that people should be contacting the proper offices and asking questions. I’m a “felon”/ex-felon. I’ve voted the last dozen or so times the polls were open, I received a summons for Jury Duty last year, and I’ve had my hunting license for several years. I have NOT, however, purchased a gun. I saw so many conflicting laws that I just decided to see what would happen. It’s not a crime to apply, and all they can do is say no. So far, I’ve gotten nothing but yeses.

  9. I just turned 60, @ age of 30 I started trying cocaine because i was a drinker and was told it kept you from getting drunk..I never did it sober,I was a drinker a US government worker who liked to party,and I got caught DWI and have enough cocaine to get me that low end felony,I always got probation never did time…. With that being said I live in Texas, under Texas laws a felon may possess a firearms in his/her home for protection 5 years after completing probation…My wife has a Permit to Carry Im not suppose to ride with her other sights say.But lawyer said if she has it holstered and her car is in fact in her name there shouldnt be a problem…2 shooting ranges of open nature allow high powered pcp air gun rifles which are legal to own by a felon and you cannot practice @ home not everyone lives in the country where theyd have no problem practicing.So as to say while on probation a felon can not be around guns, bars, etc… BUT even with the allowed muzzle loader a person must practice, sho an open range should not put a felon in any problems if he or she has a pellet rifle or muzzle loader and my wife practices two booths away from me and we arrive in seperate vehicles, she takes her guns in her car I take my PCP rifles in mine…Fair no its not fair,If i could come up with @2,250.00 dollars a lawyer can file to have that felony set aside, and if approved I can buy a gun, fire a gun @ a range …BUT I can never get a PERMIT to CARRY LICENSE,which i really dont care about,Im more a rifle person not a hand gun fan..But laws do need to change seperating violent criminals from non violent ones when it comes to gun rights,Oh I got the right to vote,WOW but i cant serve on a jury..Many of us are people who made some mistakes we wish we could got back and change,but the fact is,there are law authoritys out their who have committed felonies just never got caught,thats the key thers bad people out there with guns because they dont have a record,they were either lucky or given a break… But the Militias in Texas wont allow you to join with a felony…some dont.Hopefully some day this law will change, the tongue is mightier than the sword,the 1 st amendment freedom of speech has caused more violent actions than guns..

  10. So wrong. A felon can hunt in Montana. Both with bow or any longarm. Even while on bail.(bow only). w/a 18″ barrel 12″ stock. NO PISTOLS. Montana Deerlodge prison no longer gives a horse, gun and gold peice but does restore ALL rights excluding violent offenders.

  11. Hi! I’m a convicted felon. I have been wanting to get my gun rights back for awhile. Partly because my family likes to have get-togethers where they all shoot various types of firearms for target practice and just being good ol’ gun enthusiast. Legally, I cannot be near the action or in a vehicle containing such weapons. But more importantly to me, is my ability to defend my home and family against an intruder. My situation is practically impossible to overcome, though, since I have a violent crime. I was 18 years old at the time of the charge and I am 35 now. I completed my sentence nearly 9 years ago. Since my state’s laws say I can possess a firearm in my residence only(for self defense) after 5 years, that’s all I really want. But with federal law forbidding you to possess a firearm for the rest of your life, it’s almost hopeless. My argument with current laws is that people can be rehabilitated, and young people often make mistakes that they recover from. I consider myself to be an example of that. Besides, I was sentenced and I completed my sentence. It was not a life sentence, so I feel that prohibiting me from owning a firearm past the last day of my sentence, it is unfair on the basis of cruel and unusual punishment. Also, I, and therefore my family, are denied the most important right anyone possesses since we cannot lawfully, and effectively defend our home. I do agree that some people who have shown a habit of violence toward others can be judged as a continued threat to society so I would say that it should be reviewed on a case by case basis.

  12. You can always go to a year or so of Machinist Training par-time at your local community college and learn to build your own guns. Study “Fighting In The Streets” , “The Hitman’s Handbook” and related material also. Get together with a group who can’t possess and form your own “Militia”. The Second Amendment ends with a period, not a comma. Start collecting complete kits, minus the receiver. receiver purchases aren’t scrutinized to the level of complete weapons, so straw purchases would probably be way at the bottom of the pile.

  13. i am a convicted felon my wife has guns at my father house 45 miles away from my house in a safe i do not have access to aney of these my wife has them locked up in a safe got into a argument with sister she called police said because she lives with a felon she can get them back californial law she must call dept of justice thir all regestard to her can this be done

  14. No, it is not fair. Gun rights are just that – RIGHTS. A blanket condemnation of a group of people is erroneous, as not all felons are violent or dangerous. It is ludicrous to assume such a thing. This country is very backward in its administration of “justice”. Those who authored the legislation to prohibit all felons from owning and carrying firearms should know what it is like to have those RIGHTS taken away. ALL individuals in this country should have their RIGHT to keep and bear arms left alone, unless they are convicted of a violent crime, such as assault resulting in bodily harm, rape, and murder. Short of that, gun RIGHTS should be left alone.

  15. No it’s not right!! They are disarming us slowly but surely. My husband has a felony concerning drugs not in any way violent. But now we can’t even go to gun range together. We have been clean for 7 years we don’t do drugs at all anymore and don’t hang with anyone who does. We live a slow quiet life and were just looking for a hobby. We used to go shooting and were just looking to go back. We are stable,own our home and vehicles. Have a lil business that pays the bills and the lil extras.

    • I agree with you. Using historic ruling, guns were taken away from those because of dangerousness, not simply because of their status as felons. There are three Supreme Court judges today on the bench who want o use historical rulings. The world is not a safer place because someone like Martha Stewart is permanently banned from owning a gun because of her 2004 insider trading conviction. Justice Amy Barrett used this ruling in her dissent on Kanter vs. Barr when she was on the 7th Circuit. Rickey Kanter was pardoned for his nonviolent mail fraud conviction by Donald trump before leaving office. Although the case of Ken Flick vs. Garland has been rejected by the Supreme Court, hopefully it will be reviewed again not that the Sullivan Law has been declared unconstitutional and of a case where a US judge in Texas said it was unconstitutional to bar people under felony indictment form owning a firearm. Nonviolent felons should have their rights automatically restored after 7 years at a maximum, preferably upon completion of sentence. Otherwise the Second Amendment is just a privilege. Some states already have this provision but the Gun Control Act still applies regardless of state law.

  16. People make mistake Iam a felon and all I want to do is work in a store that sells guns not own one and I can not to me that is wrong you can walk in Wal-Mart and they sell guns but I can not work where they sell guns does not make since to me ..


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