After felons leave prison, many return to activities that they once enjoyed, such as hunting. However, as felons, they are not permitted to own a firearm after receiving a felony conviction. This is true whether their crime involved firearms or not, which makes hunting a challenge.
Hunters typically use a number of different weapons. Some hunters prefer to hunt with a bow and arrow rather than a gun. This blog post will cover whether or not a felon can own a compound bow.
- What Is a Compound Bow?
- Is a Compound Bow a Firearm?
- Restrictions on Hunting with a Compound Bow
- Consequences of Hunting Without a License
- Why Not Hunt Without a License?
- Recommended Action
What Is a Compound Bow?
A compound bow is a bow that utilizes a system of levers with cables and pulleys to bend the bow’s limbs before shooting its arrows. The limbs of the compound bow are stiffer than a crossbow or longbow, but it takes less energy to operate. The compound bow was developed in 1966 and does not have the long history of a crossbow.
The strings of the compound bow are drawn back, rotating the levers and producing leverage making it easier to shoot the arrows and resulting in a higher degree of force and increased accuracy than a simple bow and arrow. In the U.S. the compound bow is the most common type of bow.
Is a Compound Bow a Firearm?
By legal definition, a firearm is “a mechanical device that uses pressure from a burning powder or an explosive charge to force a projectile through and out of a metal tube; a weapon, especially a pistol or rifle, capable of firing a projectile and using an explosive charge as a propellant.”
A compound bow fires an arrow by flinging it mechanically without the aid of burning, expanding gases. This means that a crossbow does not qualify as being a firearm. Since a compound bow is not classified as a firearm, felons are not restricted by federal law from owning one. Thus, purchasing, owning, and shooting a compound bow is legal for felons as well as those without a felony conviction. It is still a weapon, however, which is any device that can be used for attack or defense in fighting.
Restrictions on Hunting with a Compound Bow
There are state laws, different from state to state, dealing with hunting with a compound bow, however. Oregon is the only state in which compound bows are entirely illegal for hunting, even for those without a felony conviction. Most states specify that a crossbow or a compound bow can only be used for hunting during bow-hunting season, which is different from rifle-hunting season.
Other state laws indicate that a compound bow can be used for hunting certain game. While a permit is required to own a firearm, current law does not have a restriction on a compound bow. A hunting license is required for anyone to hunt with a compound bow.
Hunting laws are regulations passed by a state to:
- Protect resources and property rights
- Protect people
- Ensure fair game hunting
- Collect information
- Manage wildlife populations
Every hunter must follow the hunting laws and comply with state regulations. A hunting license can be revoked after a hunter is convicted of a serious hunting violation or repeated offenses.
Consequences of Hunting Without a License
Hunting or fishing without a license is generally considered to be a Class A or B misdemeanor, meaning legal advice will be needed. Punishment for this violation is usually a fine, which varies according to the state but can easily be the cost of the hunting license plus a fee, often $50.
Typically, an individual hunting without a license will be issued a citation for a Class A misdemeanor and ordered to appear in court and possibly be indicted. Paying the fine within 30 days will eliminate a court appearance. Anyone not paying the fine can have the charge increased to a Class B misdemeanor and a higher fine plus possible jail time, usually up to 60 days.
For felons who are already in the situation of any act of breaking the law and resulting in jail time and a possible return to prison, it isn’t worth the risk. While this is true for any felon, someone still on probation would be in violation of those terms. This could result in a return to prison.
Why Not Hunt Without a License?
Why not hunt without a license? Out in the woods or anywhere else, who would know? There are reasons for anyone, especially felons, to comply with having a hunting license.
First, felons that have completed their sentence are starting over and usually have committed to living an honest life. Hunting without a license is inconsistent with this new life they want to lead. It is a matter of integrity, which felons are usually not noted for anyway. This goes against that principle and is just another step in returning to a life of crime and returning to prison.
For felons especially this is quite serious. It is not worth the risk.
Hunting might be worth it for a felon that wants to own a compound bow. Doing it the right way by following all hunting regulations could be challenging but worth it. Having support from family or friends can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.
What do you think about this blog post? Are you or someone you know been in the situation of owning a compound bow with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.