Do They Run Background Checks at Shooting Ranges?

Many felons can recall shooting a gun before their felony conviction. They may have gone to a shooting range for target practice.

This blog post will address the question of whether or not they run background checks at shooting ranges.

  • What Is Included in a Background Check?
  • Shooting Range
  • A Felon at a Shooting Range?
  • Shooting Range Background Check?
  • Restoring Gun Rights to Shoot at a Shooting Range

What Is Included in a Background Check?

Places like a shooting range could review a user’s background because they may not want to allow access to someone who is dishonest and has a criminal record. This may be a challenge for felons. Their criminal history can be a problem even if they are now committed to living an honest lifestyle.

A background check completed by an employer or a shooting range may view at least some of the following:

  • Credit reports
  • Driving records
  • Educational records
  • Criminal offenses

When going to a shooting range, criminal offenses will be the focus of any background check that is run. This allows a shooting range to identify risks for security and safety issues.

The criminal record review conducted of a background check includes examining criminal history files for any criminal offenses, which will reveal all convictions and non-convictions, including cases not prosecuted or ones dismissed. Convictions can be reported with no time limit while a non-conviction will show up for seven years. A crime will not show up on a background check if a felon has his or her record expunged.

Shooting Range

A shooting range can be freestanding or is often connected to a gun store where a person can sell or rent guns, ammunition, targets, and shooting accessories. While some shooting ranges are outdoor, most are indoor facilities. A shooting range offers an assortment of pistols and sometimes rifles to rent. Guns are typically rented for a flat fee with a fee for time on the shooting range.

Shooting ranges will require someone to sign a waiver stating that he or she understands and will abide by all shooting range safety policies.

Typical rules on a shooting range are for safety purposes and include such things as:

  • Guns should not be loaded until on the firing line and ready to shoot.
  • Point the muzzle of a gun down range at all times.
  • Keep a gun in a case until in position on a shooting line.
  • Shoot at the target only and never across lanes.
  • Do not shoot at the floor, ceiling, or side wall.
  • Do not hang a smaller target on the bottom of a large one.

A Felon at a Shooting Range?

In 1934, the federal government passed a law denying anyone convicted of a violent felony the right to own a gun. This law remained until the Gun Control Act in 1968 when it was amended to include all persons convicted of any felony, even those that did not involve violence, which remains in effect until the current day.

Most states do not issue gun licenses to own a firearm to convicted felons or those 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 prohibit a person from gaining a license.

Federal law does not allow a felon who was convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year to possess or use a firearm. Anyone who intentionally possesses or transports a firearm following a felony conviction shall be charged with a Class 6 felony.

A felon can go to a firing range; however, simply being at the firing range where firearms are present can be cause for arrest for violating the Federal Firearms Act.

Anyone entering a firing range must complete a waiver form, which typically asks about criminal history.  It is important to be honest in filling out that waiver. Lying itself is an offense punishable by prison time.

Many off-duty police officers or even parole officers may be present at a firing range for their own shooting practice. A felon who is recognized at that location places him or herself in serious jeopardy.

It does not matter whether a felon is doing target practice at a firing range. Just because a felon does not own a gun can still mean being in possession of it.

Possessing a firearm can result in imprisonment for a term of another 10 years. Possessing a firearm is viewed as a means to exercise instant control of a firearm whether that gun is on or around that person or another.

Shooting Range Background Check?

Gun stores are required to check the criminal background of anyone purchasing a gun under the Federal Brady Act, enacted in 1994. However, no background check is required to rent a gun to use on a store’s shooting range. Gun stores with shooting ranges rent guns as a sales tool to help prospective buyers make a decision on a gun before purchasing it.

No criminal check is required if someone rents a gun to use on the store’s shooting range. In fact, a background check is not even allowed for rentals. To conduct a background check for a gun rental would be against the law. This is because a gun store has, “constructive possession,” of the gun. Store owners say doing a background check on renters would be time consuming and too costly.

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 to Shoot at a Shooting Range

While a felon is denied the ability to use or own a firearm and cannot safely go to a shooting range, there are procedures available to regain this right, known as restoring firearm rights. First, the applicant must not have been convicted of a, “forcible,” felony within the past 20 years. Also, at least 20 years must have elapsed since the end of any incarceration for that felony.

Next, the applicant’s criminal history and reputation must indicate that the applicant will not act in a manner considered dangerous to public safety. Additionally, restoring a felon’s firearm rights must not be considered contrary to the public interest or federal law.

Another way to have firearm rights restored is by seeking a presidential pardon. In order to obtain a federal pardon, felons must wait five years after completion of their sentence. Then they may contact the federal government regarding clemency and should first seek legal counsel.

Maintaining and documenting community involvement will be valuable to felons wanting to regain firearm rights as well as any other rights. Employment, volunteer work, and other contributions to society will aid their case.

In order to be successful in re-establishing gun rights to be able to legally go to a shooting range, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. Already prevalent are negative perceptions of being:

  • Dishonest
  • Untrustworthy
  • Unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures

Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. He or she can begin again and live an honest life, achieving his or her goal no matter how difficult it might seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of being concerned about a shooting range running a background check with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.


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  • Have a felony conviction in 2007;
    None since only two minor traffic violations, and no traffic tickets of any kind since 2014.

    Also, have a charge of misdemeanor charge of Larceny that is completely bogus; served a mysterious warrant while in probation court, never given a court date, never an accuser or any reason for the charge( no location, maybe a date, it happened in 2008).

    • I’m in about the same boat as you I had a felony back in 2007 and since then I’ve had a couple tickets basically for driving without a license but I since got everything in my life back on course ..I’m from Pennsylvania but I live somewhere else now…so I’m going to try to get my rights back I shouldn’t have a problem it’s just all about money at this point but I definitely agree and like the guy up a few comments said I’d rather be judged by 12 than carrying by 6

  • I happened to be at my local gun range when an ATF agent paid a visit. Apparently, somebody who was a convicted felon had paid a visit to the range, rented a firearm and purchased ammunition to shoot with the rental. The purchase of the ammo and possession of it while at the range was enough to run him afoul of the law. Most ranges that I’ve been to require that you purchase their ammo for rentals. So, I don’t know how a convicted felon would be able to get around this.

  • I have 8 felony convictions, all non-violent and white collar. I will forever own firearms and will defend them with my, and anyone elses life that tries to take them. The 2nd Amendment has always ended in a period, not a comma, even after the legislators wiped their asses with it several times. Better judged by 12 than carried by 6. When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Machine skills are part of my skillset. I will always have a gun and as long as I can work metal and wood, so will anyone else I see fit to provide one to. When you buy or stash guns, don’ take a cell phone or vehicle with a lien or On-Star like system. You might as well just alert the feds and locals where your guns are.

    • I agree with everything you said bad thing is I’m in my 40s now and I don’t have very much skill set like that I wish I knew someone to teach me.. guess I’ll have to start watching YouTube and get a press

  • I have two felony convictions and a total of four felony charges. Most recent case was 2008 conviction. I have since married and had two children and own my own home. I’ll be damned if ANYONE is gonna tell me that I can’t own a gun to protect my family. The world is only getting more dangerous by the day and my wife and children deserve to feel protected and safe no matter what bad choices I made as a young man. Can’t buy em legit so I build my own. The 2nd amendment is the backbone of the constitution and what makes this country so great!!

    • Hell yeah I agree… however also that’s not correct it’s not 20 years and a presidential part is not the only way you can get your rights back it depends on your state and exactly what your charges were obviously they’re not going to give you back something for violence or using a gun but possessing drugs or something et cetera et cetera non-violence but again I’m with you no one’s going to tell me if I can or not

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