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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27473
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I am non-violent convicted felon in the State of Texas in

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I am non-violent convicted felon in the State of Texas in Washington County. Can I legally own a Pellet Gun and Rifle? They are powderless guns but I would like to own them since I cannot defend myself with a Bullet firing gun. Thank you for any information you have about this as far as Texas laws are concerned as well as the Counties of Texas are concerned. Sincerely, XXXXX XXXXX XXXXXXXX
Hello Jacustomer,

As you probably know, whether you are convicted of a serious violent felony or a non-violent one only a hair shy from being a misdemeanor, you lose your state and Federal rights to have a firearm.

So what you need to see are the Federal and state definitions of a firearm.

Basically the Feds define a firearm in 18 USC 921(a)(3) as
  • Any weapon that expels a projectile by the action of an explosive
  • The frame or receiver of any such weapon
  • Firearm mufflers and silencers
  • Destructive devices (bombs, grenades, missiles also fired by the action of an explosive)

So, if a pellet gun is fired by compressed air rather than an explosive, it would be legal for a felon to own under Federal law.


The federal also exempts from the definition of a firearm, "antique firearms" These would be black powder guns or replicas. More specifically, the feds define an antique as:


(A) any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898; or


(B) any replica of any firearm described in subparagraph (A) if such replica - (i) is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or (ii) uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade; or


(C) any muzzle loading rifle, muzzle loading shotgun, or muzzle loading pistol, which is designed to use black powder, or a black powder substitute, and which cannot use fixed ammunition. For purposes of this subparagraph, the term "antique firearm" shall not include any weapon which incorporates a firearm frame or receiver, any firearm which is converted into a muzzle loading weapon, or any muzzle loading weapon which can be readily converted to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, breechblock, or any combination thereof.


So a muzzle loading rifle would be lawful for you to possess. A regular rifle fired by explosives would not.



Some state firearms statute track the Federal and define their terms pretty much the same way. Others don't. Again, what you need is the Texas definition of a firearm, which is found in 46.01 of the penal code.


It is a little different than the federal definition and the definition is significant


"(3) "Firearm" means any device designed, made, or adapted to expel a projectile through a barrel by using the energy generated by an explosion or burning substance or any device readily convertible to that use. Firearm does not include a firearm that may have, as an integral part, a folding knife blade or other characteristics of weapons made illegal by this chapter and that is:

(A) an antique or curio firearm manufactured before 1899; or

(B) a replica of an antique or curio firearm manufactured before 1899, but only if the replica does not use rim fire or center fire ammunition.


So a black powder gun that would be legal for you to possess under federal law would be legal for you in Texas as well.


BUT -- since a Texas firearm any weapon that shoots a projectile through the energy of an explosion An gun fired by compressed air would be illegal for you to own or possess in Texas.



So that's what you need to know. Black powder guns OK in Texas if they are old enough (or replicas of guns old enough) to clear Federal requirements. Air guns are NOT legal for you to own in Texas.









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