Once you have completed your sentence for a felony conviction, you will find things have changed. Rights that you previously took for granted may no longer be yours. If you were hoping to own a firearm, then you may be asking can a felon own a gun in Texas.
There are certain groups of people who may find themselves in legal trouble for possessing, buying, or transporting firearms. As a felon, you must be careful to avoid such problems by familiarizing yourself with state and federal laws gun laws. Knowing how they apply to your particular circumstance can help keep you on the right side of the law.
In answer to the question: can a convicted felon own a gun in Texas, the short answer is yes. There are several restrictions to abide by, but it is certainly possible to regain this right. You should, however, learn what different laws apply.
Here’s what you need to know first:
State Gun Laws
To begin with, we should define what a felony is. Typically, a felony can be a violent or non-violent offense. It can result in a conviction and sentencing of more than one year in a federal facility. The right to bear arms is usually stripped upon such conviction.
Texas Penal Code § 46.04 outlines how a felon may offend in possessing a gun. It gives three conditions under which a person is prosecuted for the unlawful possession of a firearm.
- The person must first possess a firearm
- The possession must have taken place between the date of conviction and the fifth anniversary after release from prison or parole
- The possession must occur at any place outside their residence
So in line with Texas gun law for felons, it is permissible to possess a firearm. This comes five years after release from incarceration or completion of probationary terms, whichever is later. This possession can only, however, take place at their home, or any location they exercise control over.
The third condition concerning the place of possession affects the issue of concealed carry. Concealed carry permits allow a person to carry their weapon when in public, hidden out of sight. A felon cannot get concealed carry licensing as they can only have their weapon at home.
However, there’s a catch:
Federal Gun Laws
When considering can a felon own a gun, you will find that federal law takes a different view from state laws. Under 18 U.S. Code § 921, federal law outrightly prohibits gun possession for any felony conviction unless a presidential pardon has been granted. This includes possession of gun paraphernalia such as bullets, cartridges, gun powder, and more.
While federal law is quite restrictive, federal authorities will usually defer to state laws when it comes to whether felons can own guns. It is, however, important to note that ultimately, federal law trumps state law. Although no one has thus far challenged state law based on presiding federal laws.
But that’s not all. If the felony conviction occurred outside of Texas, then possession rights may not apply the same way.
Federal law prohibits possession until such right has been restored in the jurisdiction of the offense. Every state has its own laws regarding gun rights for felons. Try to confirm them if the conviction did not occur in Texas.
Deferred Adjudication & Indictments
There is sometimes confusion as to whether a person is a felon and has had their gun rights stripped. Deferred adjudication refers to cases where there is evidence of guilt but the court opts to defer a guilty verdict. This determination is not a conviction and as such does not affect the person’s gun rights.
Under federal law, those that have received a deferred adjudication should first comply with the requirement given by the court. Thereafter there is no interference with their gun rights.
Federal law does, however, prevent anyone indicted for a crime whose punishment may include incarceration for a period exceeding a year from being able to transport a firearm. The law does not prevent them from possessing a firearm.
Texas state law views anyone charged with a crime as innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, at the state level, there is no interference with full gun rights unless you have been convicted.
Restoration of Rights
It is possible to have your full gun rights restored through the process of judicial clemency. This can take the form of having your conviction set aside.
To get a set-aside, consult with a lawyer and if your circumstances support it, go before a judge. If you succeed in having the conviction set aside, restoration of your rights may be achieved under both state and federal law.
What the judge may consider:
- How long since you completed your sentence or probation
- Any other crimes on your record – before and after your conviction
- The necessity for the firearm – such as if work-related
- How well you have reintegrated into society since the release
- Remorse demonstrated for the prior offense
The judge will not be limited to just these issues but can view your case more positively depending on the answers. Not all convictions are eligible for this process so do make suitable enquiries.
A governor’s pardon is a good alternative if you fail to get a set-aside. You need to fill the necessary paperwork for the restoration of your civil rights. You may submit your application to the sheriff of your county or directly to the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Depending on how the sheriff and/or the board will view and recommend your application, it can then move forward to the governor. Having a conviction set aside can take as long as six months while a pardon can take several years.
Pros & Cons
Seeking to restore full gun rights may be a sizable investment in time and money. If you are considering this, then also think about how you stand to benefit with a positive outcome, and what it will cost you.
- Better ability to protect your property and family. You can have your gun at home and get a concealed carry license.
- Ability to enjoy hunting and target shooting without fear of arrest. These are popular recreational activities for stocking up on meat and relieving stress.
- More work opportunities in various fields with the restoration of full rights. You become eligible for jobs that would benefit or require carrying a firearm.
- You regain other civil rights like the right to vote and hold office.
- Legal help offers the best chances of success but comes at a price.
- There is a chance you may be ineligible or will simply have your application rejected. That means a waiting period before you can reapply.
Losing the right to own a firearm can be unpleasant, especially when you grew up around guns as many Texans have. However, no matter how much you miss them, you need to ensure you are following the law.
Restrictions are going to be plenty when you have a felony conviction. You will need to wait five years after sentence completion to possess a gun in your own home. If you decide you need full rights, consulting a lawyer should set you on the right path to restoration.