Convicted felons and weapons – MADISON COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT (2023)

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Convicted felons and weapons – MADISON COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT (1)

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The Madison County Sheriff’s Department gets asked every fall about weapons laws and how they relate to hunting for someone who is a convicted felon.

The answer is clear, sort of.

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A convicted felon cannot possess “a firearm, a knife, or brass or iron knuckles” according to Nebraska statute 28-1206 Possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person.

The same statute contains an exception for archery equipment. Felons can possess archery equipment for “lawful purposes” and a knife “purposes of butchering, dressing, or otherwise processing or harvesting game, fish, or furs.”

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The follow up question is almost always “Can I hunt with a black powder rifle (muzzle loader)?”

That answer is “No” too, unfortunately.

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The confusion comes from some slight differences in state and federal law because federal law does not recognize some older-style muzzle loading guns as firearms. But Nebraska law, as set in State v. Tharp, 22 Neb. App. 454, 854 N.W.2d 651 (2014) noted that Nebraska law 28–1201(1) states that a firearm is “any weapon which is designed to or may readily be converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive or frame or receiver of any such weapon.”  The court held that the black powder or muzzle loading guns in that case were “designed or had the ability to expel a projectile by the action of the explosive black gunpowder.”

The short answer is no, felons cannot possess or hunt with black powder or muzzle loading firearms.

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The only remedy for this situation is a pardon by the Governor which restores gun rights. Simply setting aside the conviction by a court order is not sufficient, according to the Nebraska Attorney General.


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