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Can Felons Own a Pellet Gun?

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As a felon wanting to return to hunting, you probably already know many of the challenges. One of these is, how do you hunt if you can’t own or use a firearm? One way is to switch to a different weapon. One of these could be something like a pellet gun.

Can a felon own a pellet gun? We’ll answer that question here.

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

  • What Is a Pellet Gun?
  • Is a Pellet Gun a Firearm?
  • Requirements to Own a Pellet Gun
  • Hunting With a Pellet Gun
  • What Does That Mean for Felons


What Is a Pellet Gun?

A pellet gun is any type of air gun capable of shooting pellets, mostly made of lead, by using pressurized air or CO2 to propel a projectile. The speed of the projectile is much slower in a pellet gun than with a traditional gun that utilizes a propellant.

Non-spherical projectiles are fired from a pellet gun at speeds similar to that of a muzzleloader. Pellet guns have been in use since colonial times in the U.S.

When you hear the term pellet gun, or air gun, you might think of a BB gun, which is similar but not identical.  

How does a pellet gun compare to a BB gun? Both are pneumatic weapons, but they use slightly different ammunition.  

BB guns employ round steel ammunition while the shape of ammunition for pellet guns is a different shape and is made of lead.  

BB guns have a smooth barrel while air guns have rifling in the barrel. Because of the smooth barrel, BB guns shoot at a lower velocity than a pellet gun.

Because of this difference in velocity of firing, a pellet gun can be used for hunting while a BB gun does not make a good hunting piece.

Pellet guns are typically used to hunt small game, such as rabbits, squirrels, and doves. There are some advantages over a rifle for hunting.  

Air guns are easy to use whether you are experienced with guns or are a relative beginner.

They usually are quieter to fire than a rifle, which is an advantage when hunting, so you don’t scare game away. They also cock and fire easily, typically requiring less force or muscle power to operate.

An air gun is quite accurate, making them a great piece to use for hunting. This is due to the shape of the pellet along with the rifled barrel through which the projectile travels.

Is a Pellet Gun a Firearm?

Just because it has the word gun in its name doesn’t make a pellet gun a firearm.

A firearm uses pressure from a burning powder to fire, and it fires a projectile from a metal tube.

As you already know, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to own or use a firearm because of the Gun Control Act. Violating this statute will result in a Class 6 felony. 

Requirements to Own a Pellet Gun

There are no federal air gun laws, though each state has its own statutes. More than half of the states do not have air gun laws.

Various states and regions have different laws regarding pellet or air guns. An air pistol or an air rifle is considered to be a non-powder gun. 

There you have it. A pellet gun is not considered to be a firearm. Therefore, the requirements to own one are different. 

You don’t need a permit to own an air gun as you do a typical firearm. Because air guns are not standard guns or weapons, the laws to own one are different.

However, you must be at least 18 or even 21 years old to legally buy a pellet gun.

So, you can purchase and use an air gun.

Hunting With a Pellet Gun

Just because you can buy an air gun doesn’t mean that you can hunt with it. You will still need a hunting license to be able to hunt legally. Each state has its own laws on that. 

However, recent changes to the law no longer make it necessary to have a hunting license for any air gun that has a muzzle velocity of less than 20 joules.

It is still important to make sure you are not in violation of the law, so remember to check those laws for getting a hunting license and be aware of hunting season.

What Does That Mean for Felons?

It is better to be cautious. To not do so could result in being arrested and possibly going back to prison. Be sure to consult an attorney if you have any doubts or questions.

Don’t make the kind 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 pellet gun? Have you or someone you know been in this situation? What was that like and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.

28 thoughts on “Can Felons Own a Pellet Gun?”

  1. Good advise as a felon its great to find accurate information. Thank you. But i do take exception with the recovery while its some what true but to many people judge by the felon word and never find out what happened. And dont realize that under the right conditions anyone could become a felon. A resent study by defence attorney and a ivy league law school found the average american commits two felony per day that right per day most states never update laws and remove laws that go unenforced but they are still on the books and can result in your convicton on laws youve never knew existed. And ignorance of the law is no excuse so unless you can afford to learn every law in your state get an attorney on retainer because the sooner he gets on the case the better for you even a 24 hr delay can be costly in more ways than money alone.

  2. In the Great State of Missouri, this is not the case. State Air-Gun Law reference- Section 571.010 defines a projectile weapon as “any bow, crossbow, pellet gun, slingshot or other weapon that is not a firearm, which is capable of expelling a projectile that could inflict serious physical injury or death by striking or piercing a person.” BB guns and Air Rifles thus are NOT firearms in Missouri, nor technically under 18 U.S.C. § 921. which is Federal Law.

    • I am a convicted felon from many years ago. Drug possession. Back in 2012, I was pulled over and had a compound bow in my vehicle. The officer had to ask his lieutenant if he should arrest me. He answered in the affirmative. I spent the night in jail, and I was not aware that I had even committed a crime since it was not a “firearm”. The following day, the judge released me on my own recognizance, and the case was dismissed shortly after. The governor of my state, Nebraska, has since made it legal for a felon to possess a hunting bow.

  3. The Federal Firearms Act of 1986 gives felons the right to own muzzle loaders, ANY firearm produced prior to 1895. Being a felon I researched my right to own airguns. First I called my local DA’s office who referred me to the Wisconsin State Attorney’s Office he refered to the Federal Firearms Act of 1986 regarding the powder burners that are supposed to be legal for a felon to own. I told him I was only interested in airguns. He told me in Wisconsin it comes down to the intent of the gun. If used as a weapon it is illegal and the charges are no different than using a real gun including felon in possession of a firearm though it’s an airgun!
    I contacted the US Attorney’s office and the Assistant US Attorney said that the 1986 firearms act is actually an addendum to the 2nd Amendment and no state has a right to overrule any of the bill of rights. He said states try using little tricks to get around it like in Wisconsin they overruled the part of the 2nd Amendment that deals with felons “in the interest of safety of the community.” AIRSOFT & PAINTBALL guns are included in Wisconsin’s ban. The Assistant US Attorney I had spoke to told me the states get away with it because the average citizen finds filing a lawsuit in federal court is cost prohibitive! 10 years ago just the filing fee was over $750 so check your state laws.

  4. Im a specified felon in michigan who has not petitioned courts to get rights back WHAT CAN I CURRENTLY POSESS TO HUNT WITH

  5. I am a felon to. I broke into an outbuilding by cutting the master lock I was charged with a nighttime B&E and beings it was nighttime it was violent. I got out after 5 years in prison then get out and get caught hunting with a 50 cal hawkin black powder got another 5 years prison for possession of a fiararm after a violent felony. Well now I’m off probation nothing over my head so I went out and got a 45 cal dragon claw pcp shooting 330 grain hollow points I also got an air saber and hats on flash. All great pcps on a budget. Ok I’m in va now and every law seems a little shakey for a violent felon to have weapons like this. Every day I’m scared to be seen with it. Is there anything I can get on paper that I can carry with my hunting license? And speaking of that how do I buy a license correctly when I go to buy them. I don’t want to cut any corners. I’m 42 and don’t have another bid in me. I just want to hunt with my kids legal. I don’t understand why we must suffer for the rest of our life for one bad decision. We just have to make the best of what we got. I see where people are trying to even take that from us. Bastards

  6. I too am an ex-felon (ex because I made some dumb decisions that I refuse to make again) and in my State I have zero opportunities to restore my rights, ever. So defending myself in any way is illegal. Unless I stab a home invader with a kitchen knife, in the kitchen… (outside of the kitchen is considered premeditated murder) I am hosed. The state of our country is degrading and some of us have no way to defend home and property. It’s sad that you can’t actually “reform” and be part of society again.

    • What you have to do is go to a state that will let you better yourself. There are a lot of states that will give you your rights back.

  7. I’ve made my mistakes as a minor and as a young man trying find his way in this world. Over 25 years ago I ended up with some felonies. I paid my debt to society and now at the age of 49 society still treats me as a felon. Committing one felony in America is life sentence. That should change, especially after 25 years of living a lawful life. To tie my hands and say, “for the rest of your life you will not be able to arm yourself and protect your own life,” to me seems just wrong.

  8. I totally agree. I payed my debt to society. If I’m going to be prosecuted for my natural born life for a long ago mistake its definitely against my civil rights I can’t get a decent job I can’t get into the better housing. I’m then forced to go defenceless and subject to any tyranny or and violence that anyone sees fit. That is a direct attack on my civil rights and a spit in the eye of our founding fathers who where smugglers, gamblers and a list of felonies before the war. Morgan the hero of cowpens was a arsonist, with assault with a deadly. Adams was smuggling rum. George Washington had a billiard table in his home. felons are the new persecuted people

  9. I am a convicted felon and have been my entire adult life. At 70 years of age and with the world around me getting crazier by the day, it’s not my inability to hot with a firearm that concerns me. It is my inability to protect my home and my loved ones. The idea that I would be required to put myself at the mercy of someone invading my home and having to wait for the police to respond to my phone call is insane!

    • Hey just FYI there are non lethal guns that shoot like rubber bullets. I’m also a felon and single mom. We live in a small town where no violence goes on but for the past couple years it’s getting worse with killings and robberies. I had asked how I could protect my family without being in violation and was recommended one of these guns. I live in Georgia. The way they tell us is anything that can kill or severely harm someone I cannot possess. Not even a pocket knife. So I’m allowed to have a non lethal weapon. Some of the guns are co2 powered and seems like it would definitely stun someone at least until authority arrives.

  10. Fyi, (I feel similar) your rights are NOT given to you by the Constitution, though it is supposed to protect the violation of certain inalienable rights granted to you @ birth by God.

  11. I had a felony when I was 18 years old. I am now 48 and this is still effecting my life in a very negative way. I was homeless and broke into a vacation home for food. I served a year in jail.
    I just got my first big bore air rifle and I cAn hunt for the first time in my adult life.
    There should be a second chance to regain my constitutional rights.

  12. LMFAO ….Hunting with a AIRSOFT!!! Wow. Airsoft is a SPORT, just like paintball, using 6mm plastic BBs. the guns are electric, compressed gas or use a spring. 400 fps is the max for competition play.

  13. you my friend are absolutely correct . they’ve got 50 caliber air rifles out there that will drop a deer with one shot from 40 yards away…

  14. I’ve got a 58 caliber air pistol , that will drop a buffalo with one shot. and it is an air pistol. so don’t be fooled air pistols can kill just as well as firearms… but the one I own is totally legal for a felon to own . because it is just what I said an air pistol……

  15. Completely incorrect…sorry to tell you. An Airsoft rifle shooting at 350fps+ can kill a small animal such as a squirrel, rabbit, or w/e rodent. Why? Because they shoot fast…and at that speed(projectile speed)… repeated shots can kill them.

  16. Ok y’all. Airsoft guns are the weakest most harmless of all airguns. They fire plastic projectiles at very slow speeds. They could never be used to hunt Anything

    • Yes they can! You told your friend wrong. I deer hunt every year with mine. I have owned mine for many years and even the game warden said its legal here in Oklahoma.
      A convicted felon is not prohibited from possessing a crossbow in Oklahoma, and anyone may hunt with a crossbow in Oklahoma during any open season when conventional longbows are allowed. Dec 8, 2017


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