Honorable Mark A. Maples

Office of the Attorney GeneralFebruary 13, 2004

2004 WL 555121 (Miss.A.G.)
Office of the Attorney General
State of Mississippi
*1 Opinion No. 2004-0043
*1 February 13, 2004

Re: Possession of Weapons by Felon

*1 Honorable Mark A. Maples
*1 George County Prosecutor
*1 362 Summer Street
*1 Lucedale, Mississippi 39452
Dear Mr. Maples:
*1 Attorney General Jim Hood has received your letter of request and has assigned it to me for research and reply. Your letter states:
*1 Sheriff Garry Welford and I hve recently been asked a question about a convicted felon and a firearm, and we pose the following question:
*1 Section 97-37-5 of the Mississippi Code, 1972, as amended provides:
*1 “(1) It shall be unlawful for any person who has been convicted of a felony under the laws of this State, any other State, or the United States, to possess any firearm...”.
*1 An individual in George County was previously convicted of burglary of a building and accessory after the fact to armed robbery. He received an eight-year and four-year sentence, respectively, and served a period of ten years before being discharged from the Department of Corrections custody. He is no on any type of parole or Department of Corrections supervision at this time. He wishes to hunt using a muzzle loading rifle or muzzle loading shotgun or bow and arrow.
*1 Our question is this: Can a convicted felon possess (and consequently hunt) with a muzzle loading rifle, muzzle loading shotgun, a traditional bow and arrow, or a cross bow?
*1 In response, Mississippi Code Annotated Section 97-37-5 provides:
*1 (1) It shall be unlawful for any person who has been convicted of a felony under the laws of this state, any other state, or of the United States to possess any firearm or any bowie knife, dirk knife, butcher knife, switchblade knife, metallic knuckles, blackjack, or any muffler or silencer for any firearm unless such person has received a pardon for such felony, has received a relief from disability pursuant to Section 925(c) of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or has received a certificate of rehabilitation pursuant to subsection (3) of this section.
*1 (2) Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or committed to the custody of the State Department of Corrections for not more than three (3) years, or both.
*1 (3) A person who has been convicted of a felony under the laws of this state may apply to the court in which he was convicted for a certificate of rehabilitation. The court may grant such certificate in its discretion upon a showing to the satisfaction of the court that the applicant has been rehabilitated and has led a useful, productive and law-abiding life since the completion of his sentence and upon the finding of the court that he will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety.
*1 The above quoted statute prohibits a convicted felon from possessing of any “firearm” among other weapons. Black's Law Dictionary defines “firearm” as:
*1 An instrument used in the propulsion of shot, shell or bullets by the action of gunpowder exploded within it. A weapon which acts by force of gunpowder. The word comprises all sorts of guns, fowling pieces, blunderbusses, pistols, etc.
*2 It is the opinion of this office that a muzzle loading rifle or a muzzle loading shotgun is within the meaning of the term “firearm” as used in Mississippi Code Annotated Section 97-37-5. However, the statute does not include weapons such as a traditional bow and arrow or crossbow. Therefore, a convicted felon may possess (and consequently hunt with) a traditional bow and arrow or crossbow.
*2 If we may be of further service to you, let us know.
Very truly yours,
*2 Jim Hood,
*2 Attorney General
*2 By: David K. Scott
*2 Special Assistant Attorney General
2004 WL 555121 (Miss.A.G.)
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