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Can a Felon Buy Ammo?


Being convicted of a felony can lead to the loss of certain rights. The best known is that of gun rights. A felon is no longer allowed to possess a firearm.

But what of bullets? Can a felon buy ammo?

Here we will seek to find answers to this. Let us begin by looking at what causes gun rights to be stripped.

Firearm Rights

What happens to the firearm rights of a felon will depend on what charges they faced. Those convicted of federal crimes face the worst trouble.

Under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), convicted felons lose gun rights. The law says guns are forbidden for those convicted of crimes that attract prison terms exceeding a year. Other sections of this law extend this penalty to those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.

can felons buy ammo

Others prohibited from owning guns include:

1 Fugitives from justice

2 Those under indictment for crimes with a penalty of more than a year in prison

3 Users and drug addicts

4 Those committed to mental institutions

5 Illegal aliens

6 Dishonorably discharged military personnel

7 Those that have renounced U.S. citizenship

Every state has its own laws governing gun possession and felony convictions. Most have a time limit that must expire after completing a sentence before rights can be restored. A governor’s pardon may have to be received in other cases.

For many felons, the desire to own a gun can be due to various reasons. This can include:

  • Personal protection
  • Property protection
  • Hunting
  • Sport shooting

So what about ammunition? How does this differ from firearms?

What Is Ammo?

Ammo is short for ammunition. It refers to the projectile fired from a weapon by igniting the propellant. Different weapons are designed to work with various types and sizes of ammo.

In the case of firearms, we would be referring to:

  • Cartridge Cases
  • Bullets
  • Primers
  • Propellant Powder

The Gun Control Act prohibits more than just firearms. It also makes it unlawful for felons to be in possession of ammo.

Note that ignorance of this law is no defense. Felons are liable for prosecution if caught with a firearm or ammo.

Gun dealers are required to conduct background checks so as to prevent felons gaining possession. But, to what extent?

Background Check Procedures

When a gun dealer wants to sell a firearm, they must run the buyer through the NICS. This stands for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The buyer fills out an ATF form and the dealer forwards it to the NICS. The check can be done either by phone or electronically. It confirms if the person has a felony criminal record.

If the records indicate a felony, the person is not eligible to purchase a firearm.

Can A Felon Buy Ammo?

The Gun Control Act makes possessing a firearm and ammo illegal for felons. However, gun dealers that are selling just ammo are not always required to run a background check.

Only six states require this check for ammo sales. These include:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York

can the felon buy ammo

Technically, a felon may be able to buy the ammo without drawing any attention in other states. With online sales now easily done, they do not even have to visit a store.

Legal problems are a real concern if one is caught with ammo. A felon may find a new felony count added to their criminal record.

Even constructive possession can be a crime. This is whereby the ammo may not be in your actual possession. You may however have some control over the environment in which it is and know it is there.

This can make sharing a home or office with a gun owner a risky business. Even actual or constructive possession of just one bullet can result in prosecution.

So what remedies are there for gun rights?

Gun Rights Restoration

Getting your gun rights restored is the best way to avoid these complications. Depending on the state, this may require you to have your records expunged. In some cases, you may need to receive a pardon.

Once you know how to get a felony pardon, your rights are restored. For offenses prosecuted in state courts, the pardon comes from the governor. A pardon must be obtained from the POTUS in the case of federal cases.

There are waiting periods to applying for this relief. You need to also put together all the necessary documentation and testimonials.

If looking to find how can a convicted felon receive firearm rights you will find another possible solution. For those that are patient, many states have waiting periods to restore gun rights.

These periods often range between seven to ten years. Fulfilling all penalties prescribed by the court must however be done. This restoration will however depend on such factors as the severity and type of crime.

can the felons buy ammo

For instance, Alaska restores firearm rights after ten years for non-violent felonies. Violent felons suffer a permanent ban. Ohio offenders can apply to the court for restoration of firearm rights at the end of their sentence. This applies to all but violent and drug offenses.

In Texas, felons can have their rights restored five years after completing their sentence. But, it is only where they live that they can possess the gun. So when considering can a felon own a gun in Texas, know that full rights only come via pardon.

Given the many variations, consulting a lawyer is the best approach. This will allow you to ascertain what your state laws require for you to legally buy guns and ammo.

If you however have a waiting period or do not qualify for relief, there are alternatives.

Alternatives to Firearms

There are substitute weapons that can be effectively used for protection and hunting. Some are built differently so activities like target practice may require adjustments.

Suitable alternatives can include pellet guns, muzzleloaders, and crossbows. Each option may however come with some restrictions. For instance, felons are not allowed to modify muzzleloaders.

It is also worth noting that some weapons may not be permitted for certain activities. Some states do not allow for the use of crossbows when hunting. You will need to check up on local laws when getting your hunting license to avoid legal problems.

Read more: Can Felons Own A Muzzleloader?


It is not advisable for a felon to consider buying ammo. Even being in the vicinity of guns and ammo may lead to legal problems if caught.

The best option is to first establish what is needed for gun rights restoration. Depending on where you live, there may be a waiting period. There are different kinds of relief offered in various jurisdictions.

Besides the waiting period, you may need to apply for a set-aside, expungement, or pardon. Different states have differing rules on this. Consulting with a lawyer can help determine what you need to do for relief.

If you have to wait, or your offenses disqualify you from relief, consider alternative weapons. You can easily protect yourself, property, and hunt with other options.

Personal and property protection does not even have to involve weapons at all. A dog and a good security system can do just as well.

Do always check on your local and state laws. Avoid any situation that could lead you back to prison.

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