It is a thing of pride to be able to have a home of your own. No matter if you own it or rent it. It becomes your private space where you can relax, entertain family and friends, and accumulate possessions. You become the king of your castle.
The realities of the world however mean that you will often face certain dangers. Burglary, trespassing, and home invasion are just a few crimes that commonly occur on private property.
This vulnerability is experienced by all kinds of people, including felons. It thus begs the questions; how can a felon protect their home?
Felons face a unique challenge as they lose certain rights when convicted. They do not enjoy the same freedoms as non-offenders any more, even after release. This may make them less capable of defending their homes as they would want.
Other rights that felons lose include voting rights, to travel abroad, jury duty, and even parental rights. A felony record can also prevent one from joining certain professions.
The right that is of most concern here is the one to keep and bear arms. Firearm rights are automatically stripped from felons. It is illegal for felons to possess, own, or use a firearm.
These laws are very strict. It is considered unwise for a felon to even visit a gun range, even if they will not shoot. It can also be problematic to live with a domestic partner who keeps a gun in the home they share.
For many people, having a gun reassures them. They feel able to defend themselves if ever in a dangerous situation. Depending on upbringing, it can also mean a return to enjoyable pastimes like hunting.
Before we get to what, if any, guns a felon may own, let’s first consider the alternatives.
Alternative Home Security Options
Even without a gun, there are several ways you can safeguard yourself, your family, and possessions.
Investing in a security alarm system is a good place to start. Many systems provide remote video surveillance for whatever area you place a camera. They can have a variety of components including cameras, sensors, and alarms.
They are a great choice for securing your home, whether you are present or not.
Many videos shared online show attempted burglaries being foiled by homeowners. Once alerted of movement by the system, they tap into the feed. They then scare off the intruder by speaking via the intercom.
Smart homes provide an easy means to remotely control functions in the house. You can make an empty house seem occupied by opening shutters, activating lights, and the entertainment system. But be sure to have someone bring in the mail.
Keeping a baseball bat handy is not a bad idea. Old school but still highly effective where there are no firearms involved. Plus, you are unlikely to get into trouble with the law as you could literally claim it is for playing.
You may also consider adopting a dog. While this may be a big responsibility, many breeds are great as guard dogs and will deter criminals. Even small dogs can be very alert and quickly start barking when they sense trouble.
Dogs also make great companions. So whether you live alone or with family, you will likely enjoy their presence.
If you can afford it, try to take up residence in a secure building. Many have round the clock security and CCTV.
Also, consider installing extra locks and a deadbolt. This is a simple but effective solution that costs less.
Millions of Americans do not own firearms yet quite capably manage to safeguard themselves and their families.
There are certain weapons that are comparable to guns but do not do as much damage. Pellet guns use compressed air to propel their ammunition. Guns make use of ignited gun powder.
Their ammunition is softer and travels at speeds of up to 1000 feet per second. This is less than half as fast as a handgun.
However, pellet guns can still cause serious injury. Especially when the target is close range and the impact site is vulnerable, like the eye.
BB guns are another alternative. Its ammunition travels half as fast as pellet guns. But even with this lower velocity, this weapon can still do considerable harm and are often used in hunting.
Muzzleloader firearms are considered antiques. To fall into this category, the weapon must have been manufactured in the 1800s and be front loading. For a felon to legally own such a weapon, it must be classified as a collectible.
While these options may seem like a safe bet for felons, be careful. Different states have different laws pertaining to what can be classified as a firearm. Some states allow felons to legally own and transport BB guns, while in others it is prohibited.
Before making a purchase, it is advisable to seek legal counsel. Ensure you know where you stand when it comes to federal, state, and local laws.
Also, be aware that laws can change when you change jurisdiction. What is permitted in one town or state may not be allowed elsewhere. So avoid transporting the weapon across county lines.
Although not quite a gun, knives can also be considered a weapon. Felons should however avoid anything with a blade longer than four inches.
Now we have looked at the alternative weapon choices. Let’s move on to how you can get restore your gun rights.
Restoring Firearm Rights
It is possible to have some or all of your rights restored. A common way to achieve this is through expungement. This is typically processed by filing an application and going before a judge.
They may need to give reasons why their rights should be reinstated. This can be an intimidating process so it is advisable to have a lawyer help you.
Every state has its own regulations on how to qualify for this. Typically, first-time offenders that have maintained a clean record for 5-10 years can apply. This applies to crimes that were prosecuted in state court.
In some states, it is also possible to have your rights restored before set limitations. You may however need to go before the county gun board to make your case.
Pardons are another way to restore your rights. These are processed through the governor’s office for state cases. Presidential pardons are processed via the Department of Justice.
Your chances do however reduce if you are a repeat offender. It is important to demonstrate that you are unlikely to re-offend by maintaining a clean record. Having steady, gainful employment also helps.
The seriousness of the offense committed may also matter. It is more difficult for those that were convicted of violent crimes involving firearms.
The length of time since conviction also matters. As said, some states do indicate a time period that should lapse before a felon can apply for relief.
Part of making amends for wrongs done is giving back to the community. Volunteerism is a great way to establish this and build character references. They can attest to the changed person you have become.
Those with addiction issues can also help themselves by going through rehabilitation. Successfully completing such programs proves their determination to get back on track in life.
For most recently released felons, owning a firearm is simply not possible. Especially if the conviction involved gun violence. This is however not necessarily a permanent condition.
Check on your state laws to find out when you qualify to apply for an expungement or pardon. And if tempted to take up a pellet gun or crossbow, be sure you are permitted. Check on all the regulations including how to transport and use it.
Keep in mind that living with a partner that possesses such weapons can be dangerous. As long as you are capable of accessing the weapons you may be deemed to have possession. Even having bullets around you can draw the wrong attention from law enforcement.
Until you can legally have your firearm rights restored, make use of alternative home security options. And be sure to keep out of trouble. You stand the best chance of regaining these rights when you avoid any possibility of arrest.
A clean record, patience, and proving you are a contributing member of society are the way to go. If you already tick all these boxes, seek legal counsel or simply do the research on your state laws.