President Bill Clinton signed a bill into law before leaving office in 2000 that affected those of us who were not US citizens or permanent residents (green card holders) who where purchasing firearms. Shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001, the ATF did their “90 day comments” program with the intent to start enforcing the law/rule change. I was living in North Carolina at the time and owned a number of firearms, concerned that I would not be in legal compliance when the enforcement of this rule change took place I contacted the local ATF office and spoke to an ATF inspector . . .
The inspector informed me she did not know how the rule change was going to be implemented and how it would affect me and that I may have to surrender any and all firearms I owned as there was no grandfather clause within the rule change. I informed her outright that I would NOT be surrendering any firearms, just wasn’t going to happen, so we had better figure out a way to deal with this rule change. She provided me a contact number for the ATF folks in DC who had written the law/rules change and suggested I call them.
I contacted the folks in DC and informed them of my immigration status (I was on a J2 non-immigrant visa at the time) and asked them how this new change to the law was going to affect me. I was informed that they had no idea how the law was going to affect me or how it was going to be implemented and they asked me to call the NRA. Keep in mind these are the same people who wrote the law, they even provided me a contact number for the NRA. I was/am a member, and worked as a volunteer recruiter for them at that time covering local gun shows.
The ATF also asked that I call them back and let them know what the NRA had to say. I contacted the NRA-ILA and explained the problem I was having and was about to have with the new rule change. The folks at the NRA explained how the law would affect me, how to get into compliance, and how to legally keep my firearms and continue to purchase firearms.
I called back the ATF in DC and informed them how the law would affect gun owners who were not US citizens and what their (ATF) responsibilities were going to be with ensuring compliance and enforcement. They thanked me for my help and asked if I would be prepared to meet with the lead inspector in the Greensboro, North Carolina office and to let her know the same information I had just given them. I informed them I would be glad to and contacted the Greensboro office and made an appointment to see the inspector I had been dealing with there.
Half way through my chat with the inspector in Greensboro she stopped me mid sentence and said, “Do you have any idea how ridiculous this is? Here we are the ones who wrote the law and are tasked with enforcing it and yet you are having to explain it to me.” Yes ma’am, this was not lost on me. At the end of our chat I looked over at a poster she had on her wall offering $1,000,000.00 for the capture of Erick Rudolf and told her that if they (ATF) offered a lifetime, tax free, moonshine manufacturing license rather than a million to the first person to gave up his location they would have him in custody by the close of business Friday. Yes, contrary to popular belief ATF inspectors do have a sense of humor.
So with this battle won it was off to the next. Local gun dealers along with the sheriff’s office had to be shown the way.
Now I’m all set, visas came and went then the green card (no it’s not green), and now I’m an American citizen, sworn in August 23rd of 2013. Gone are the days of having to hold a hunter’s license and providing 90 days worth of bills in my name to get a pistol purchase permit. Just one last thing to get, a North Carolina concealed handgun permit (NC requires US citizenship for their carry permit). I spent the last 10 years carrying on an out-of-state non-resident carry permit. Where there’s a will there’s a way folks.