Can a Felon Own a Gun in Texas?
Gun ownership is one of the many rights an individual gives up when he or she becomes a convicted felon in Texas. Texans must comply with federal and state gun laws when it comes to purchasing a rifle or handgun in the state. These laws restrict ownership rights according to rules by the Texas Department of Public Safety. One of the eligibility requirements for owning a gun in the Lone Star State is that the individual has not had a felony conviction, according to Government Code §411.172-a-3.
State Gun Laws
“Felons can’t own guns in Texas” is an overarching statement that comes with several exceptions and stipulations. State laws only apply to “convicted” felons. This does not include felony convictions the courts have subsequently expunged, pardoned, annulled, invalidated, voided, or sealed. A state or federal judge must have issued these orders for the felon to be able to own a gun. The law doesn’t see an individual as “convicted” if the court ordered a deferred adjudication against the person at least 10 years prior to the date of the individual’s gun license application. There are exceptions to this rule for certain types of felony offenses, including:
- Capital felony
- Kidnapping/unlawful restraint
- Criminal homicide
- Sexual Offenses
- Felony theft or a white collar crime
- Family violence
There are certain violent crimes and felonies that bar a convicted individual from ever being able to own a gun in Texas, except in the event of an expunged or pardoned conviction. The law also bars individuals with Class A or Class B misdemeanors or equivalent offenses in the last five years preceding the date of the application from gun ownership. Conviction of an offense according to Section 42.01, Penal Code or a felony under an indictment or information also eliminates the right to gun ownership. Finally, fugitives from justice for these crimes may not legally own guns of any kind.
Federal Gun Laws
Convicted felons must obey federal gun laws on top of Texas state restrictions. There are significant penalties included in the federal law for felons who possess weapons, unless they’ve received restoration of rights by the convicting state. Federal law 18 U.S.C. 922(g) states that anyone “convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for longer than one year” may not possess any firearms or ammunition. Federal law makes it illegal for anyone with a felony conviction to own a firearm or possess one inside or outside the home.
Breaking the federal gun law can result in up to 10 years in prison. Conviction of certain misdemeanor charges also bars a person from gun ownership under federal law. For example, a misdemeanor for domestic violence or for Firearms and Explosives automatically restricts gun ownership for those convicted. There are exceptions to these federal rules, just as the Texas state gun laws have exceptions. If the state that convicted the person restores the individual’s rights, federal law will permit gun ownership.
Gun laws can be highly complex. In basic terms, a felon cannot own a gun in Texas. However, there are several exceptions to the state and federal laws. A criminal defense attorney in Houston can help you understand whether your felony conviction qualifies as an exception to all applicable gun laws in Texas.