If you’re a felon, can you own a gun?

Illegally owning a firearm — or possessing it, even if someone else technically owns it — can lead to serious criminal charges. If you are a felon, for instance, federal law bars you from possessing a firearm, as does state law in Texas.

That said, there are ways to own a firearm legally, without committing weapons crimes. It is a bit complicated and will not work for everyone, but it is worth considering.

First and foremost, you need to know that state law only prohibits the possession of a firearm for five years after the end of a sentence. This could mean the end of probation or release from prison, for instance. It’s illegal to own a gun initially, and it is a felony offense to do so, but you get that right back after five years.

But — and this is big — you are not just bound by state law. If you’re a felon, you also have to abide by federal gun laws. These laws say that you lose the right to own a firearm. Even if the state would allow it, you are breaking federal law.

What this means is that the first step is to seek a full restoration of your federal rights. These could include the right to vote, to hold public office and to serve on a jury. If your rights get reinstated at the federal level, then you can follow the state laws and possess a gun after the five-year mark.

It is very important to fully understand all of your legal rights after a felony conviction so as not to accidentally commit a second crime.