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Can a Felon Own a Crossbow?

Hunting used to be a simple pleasure for felons.

Many want to resume this activity, but they know that isn’t possible with a traditional gun or rifle.

It will take some thought to come up with an appropriate substitute.

How about a crossbow? Sounds good, but can a felon own a crossbow?

We’ll answer that question here.

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

Loss of Rights

Being convicted of a felony results in a loss of certain civil rights granted under the U.S. Constitution.

As you already know, one of the rights you lose is the right to possess or use a firearm.

The 1968 Gun Control Act is the United States Federal law that prohibits convicted felons from possessing any type of firearm.

Violating this statute will result in charge of a Class 6 felony. 

You can have these rights restored through a lengthy legal process or by getting a pardon for your crimes.

Restoring those rights is up to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

This could happen if this agency no longer views you as a threat to society.

What Is a Crossbow?

A crossbow is a type of weapon based on the bow, consisting of a horizontal bow-like assembly mounted on a stock.

It shoots arrows which are called bolts.

The crossbow was invented by the Chinese in the 5th century B.C. though it first gained attention as a weapon of warfare by the Greeks.

The crossbow has been a popular weapon because of its ease of use and precision.

While there are different styles of crossbows, each has its particular function either as a weapon, for a sport, or for hunting.

Is a Crossbow a Firearm?

Since a crossbow has so many uses, especially as a weapon or even for hunting, is it considered to be a firearm?

After all, aren’t weapons firearms?

Well, a weapon is any device used for attacking or defending while fighting.

By definition, a firearm is, “any device made or adapted to expel a projectile through a barrel using the energy generated by an explosion or burning substance or any device readily convertible to that use.” 

A firearm uses expanding gases to propel a projectile.

A crossbow fires an arrow by flinging it through the air mechanically without the aid of burning or expanding gases.

This means that a crossbow cannot be classified as a firearm.

Since a crossbow is not considered a firearm, felons are not restricted by the Gun Control Act from owning one.

Therefore, purchasing and owning a crossbow is legal for felons as well as those without a felony conviction.

Hunting with a Crossbow

There are many people who hunt with a crossbow.

After all, it is easy to use and is very accurate.

Many disabled persons hunt with a crossbow because they are not able to handle, aim, or fire a rifle or shotgun.

A crossbow is different from a regular bow. A regular one requires pulling back on the bow to shoot it.  

With a crossbow, it can be locked and loaded for a hunter to aim and shoot, which is much easier for someone with a disability to use.  

Each state has its own laws regulating hunting requirements and the hunting season.

Each of these is different in its regulations for hunting with a crossbow.  

Most states specify that a crossbow can only be used for hunting during bow hunting season, which is different from rifle hunting season.

Others indicate that a crossbow can be used for hunting for certain types of game

Can a Felon Own a Crossbow?

Basically, the answer is that a felon can purchase and own a crossbow.

The laws state that since a crossbow is not considered to be a firearm, it is legal for a felon to own one.

However, the regulations are not so simple.

You can own a crossbow.

It does depend on the state in which you reside as to whether or not you can hunt with one. 

As a crossbow owner you must comply with the laws that prevail in the state in which you reside.

For example, it is illegal for anyone, felon or not, to hunt with a crossbow in Oregon.

In the states of Hawaii, Massachusetts, and South Dakota, only disabled persons are allowed to hunt with a crossbow and then it is legal only during bow-hunting season.

Seventeen states permit hunting with a crossbow for all adults during bow-hunting season.

In 10 states, a crossbow can be used only during deer or game season.

What Does That Mean for Felons?

Owning a crossbow doesn’t necessarily mean that you can hunt with it.

You will still need a hunting license to be able to hunt legally, which is up to each state to determine.

It is still important to make sure you are not in violation of the law before you return to hunting with a crossbow.

Check the state laws for obtaining a hunting license and be aware of hunting season for crossbows.

Be cautious.

Not doing so could result in being arrested and possibly returning to prison.

Don’t make the type of mistakes you did in the past.

You are not defined by your mistakes but in how you recover from them.

So what do you think about this blog post about whether a felon can own a crossbow? Have you or someone you know been in this situation?

What was that like and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.


  • i can nit find a straight answer anywhere on the web! what im wanting to know is me a convicted felon aloud to own a black powder gun? i read that under federal law a black powder gun is not considered a firearm even if it is a replica! i also read that law can change from state to state on what felons are not aloud and are aloud to have in there possession! so that begining said “in the great state of Pennsylvania can a felon own a black powder gun of and kind including a flint lock rifle???

  • Missouri is trying to tell me that I can’t hunt with a bow and arrow of any kind. I hope that I can prove them wrong. Any suggestions on how to do it? I’m a convicted felon.

  • A felon cannot own posess transport any thing with a trigger mechanism or ammo

  • Donald Buchanan

    I am a convicted felon in SC,can I own and hunt with a crossbow,and also own and hunt with a black powdered gun.Am I allowed to own any pistols

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