Did you know that being convicted of a felony means you can no longer possess a firearm? This law was put in place to prevent potentially dangerous ex-criminals from easily hurting someone again. While, in theory, prison is meant to be a transformative experience in which criminals reform from the behavior that put them in prison in the first place, going back to crime after being released is fairly common.
Recidivism, which is the tendency of former prisoners to commit crimes again, is extremely high, especially if rehabilitation, rather than mere punishment, is the goal of incarceration. According to a recent study taken from data from 30 states, 5 in 6 former prisoners will be arrested again within nine years of being released.
When talking about felons possessing firearms, it’s important to remember the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by a year or less in county jail and a fine. The only classification of crime less serious than a misdemeanor is an infraction (parking violations, etc.). Misdemeanors include:
- Petty theft
- Threatening assault
- Possessing tobacco or alcohol as a minor
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
A felony is a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of more than a year and is usually carried out in a high-security prison rather than a jail. Crimes that are considered felonies include:
People who commit felonies are, of course, known as felons, and there can be serious consequences for felons who have possession of firearms.
The main complication that comes with this law is that, according to this attorney, in the state of Texas, a firearm is defined as anything that can be used as a weapon. Naturally, you’re probably thinking that this is pretty vague. It is. Other rules that go along with this law complicate it even further. A convicted felon is also not allowed to be in the same car as someone who has a gun for hunting purposes, and they’re definitely not allowed to hunt themselves. Sometimes, felons will be able to own a firearm again by waiting five years and keeping the weapon inside their home. The only way for a felon to possess a firearm outside of the home is if they have a pardon from the governor, which is obviously given very infrequently.
Because there are so many complications, there are naturally situations with a lot of gray areas. That’s why it’s so important for people who have been charged with this crime to get in contact with a lawyer immediately. If they don’t, they could end up back in prison for up to ten years, making recidivism rates even higher and further prolonging their opportunity at successful rehabilitation.