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.