Hundreds of people barred from having guns because they are felons on parole or probation are still able to get hunting licenses in Montana with no questions asked, reports the Associated Press. While nearly all states ban felons from possessing guns, only a handful, including Rhode Island and Maine, keep them from receiving hunting permits. A few others, including Illinois and Massachusetts, require hunters to show both a hunting license and a firearms license. “Our license dealers have no way of checking,” said Lt. Rich Mann of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “If someone wants to play with the system and beat you at it, they will.”
The AP study of Montana hunting and corrections records shows at least 660 felons on parole or probation received tags in the past year. A state probation official said the findings likely would prompt the state to consider its own records search to see if parolees are violating terms of their release. Officials note that most felons could legally hunt using other weapons, such as bows. Several people contacted by the AP said they hunted legally with bows while on probation. Bows are not the weapon of choice for some game for which felons were issued tags, such as birds or bison.