The right to own a firearm is one of the civil liberties denied to felons in California. However, pellet rifles and air guns do not fit the state's legal definition of firearms.
California Penal Code 12001 (a) defines a "firearm" specifically as any device from which a "projectile is expelled by the force of any explosion or other form of combustion." Pellet rifles and other air guns utilize compressed air rather than combustion and are thus not defined as firearms under California state law.
As pellet rifles are considered "BB devices" under California Penal Code 12001 (g), their sale and possession is "only regulated in regard to minors," says Joe Silvoso, a California attorney who specializes in firearm law at the firm of Michel and Associates. Thus, felons can legally possess these devices.
Before purchasing a pellet rifle or air gun, check your local laws and the terms of your probation. Some cities and communities have banned the possession and use of air guns altogether. Additionally, the terms of your probation may restrict your ability to own weapons.