It’s long been known that nonimmigrant aliens may purchase and own firearms  in the United States for hunting or for sporting purposes.

To legally purchase firearms from federally licensed dealers, non-resident aliens have to show a legal hunting license or that they “have been admitted” for sporting purposes. The easiest way to obtain a document to allow purchases at gun stores is to obtain a hunting license.

Some Chinese students in Arizona recently fell afoul of the law by purchasing resident hunting licenses when they weren’t technically eligible to do so. From azcentral.com:

In recent months, federal and state officials have cited at least eight Chinese students at the University of Arizona for fraudulently obtaining resident hunting licenses, and also seized from them a number of firearms obtained using those licenses.

A high-ranking federal official told the Star his agency has no evidence of “malicious intent” by the eight students. Nevertheless, the purchases reveal what officials say is a potentially troubling vulnerability in federal and Arizona firearms laws, which exempt international students and other non-immigrant visa holders with hunting licenses from prohibitions on gun ownership.

The students had been living in the United States for up to two years when they purchased their resident licenses. This would seem to meet the requirement for being “domiciled in this state for at least six consecutive months.”

In 2010, that would have been sufficient. From the 2010-11 AZ regulations:

Resident:

A person who has been a bona fide resident of the state of Arizona for six months immediately preceding the date of application for a license or a tag or a member of the armed forces who has been stationed in Arizona for a period of 30 days immediately preceding the date of application for a license or a tag.

But another requirement was added in 2015.

Domiciled in this state for at least six consecutive months immediately before the date of the application for a watercraft decal, hunting or fishing license, permit, tag or stamp and who does not claim residency for any purpose in any other state or country.

Was the extra requirement added at the suggestion of the federal government?

It was this added requirement that tripped up the Chinese students. They were cited for fraudulently obtaining a resident hunting license in Arizona. If they had obtained a non-resident license, they would have been legal.

States vary considerably in what is required to obtain a resident hunting license. In Iowa, a full time student qualifies. From iowadnr.gov:

2. Is a full-time student at an accredited educational institution in Iowa and resides in Iowa while attending the educational institution,

Our Chinese students would have been perfectly legal in Iowa.

The ATF is clear that having a valid hunting license is a lawful exception for nonimmigrant aliens to legally possess firearms. From atf.gov:

May a nonimmigrant alien who has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa possess a firearm or ammunition in the United States?

An alien admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa is prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing a firearm or ammunition unless the alien falls within one of the exceptions provided in 18 U.S.C. 922(y)(2), such as: a valid hunting license or permit, admitted for lawful hunting or sporting purposes, certain official representatives of a foreign government, or a foreign law enforcement officer of a friendly foreign government entering the United States on official law enforcement business.

[18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5)(B) and 922(y)(2); 27 CFR 478.11 and 478.32]

An Arizona non-resident hunting license costs $165 per year. If you are in the US on a nonimmigrant visa, that’s a small price to pay to own a firearm, compared to the enormous costs of legally owning one — if it’s even possible — in most of the rest of the world.

Another suggestion for people here on nonimmigrant visas: join a shooting club and compete in competitions. They could do so with borrowed equipment at first, then use a valid hunting license and copies of your competitions to meet the federal requirements. The law does not limit nonimmigrants to hunting; sporting purposes, which include competition, are included as well.

I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the Internets. But a valid hunting license and proof of participation in club competitions should be more than sufficient to meet the federal requirements for legal firearm ownership by nonimmigrant aliens.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Gun Watch

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52 Responses to Nonimmigrant Aliens May Legally Buy and Possess Firearms in the US

  1. I’m a big Second Amendment guy but after having been around the block and the world more than once, plus being out of short pants for some time, I disagree. Weak laws have already facilitated terrorist crimes against US Citizens and will continue to do so.
    Another bureaucratically allowed 9/11 with guns instead of boxcutters is likely inevitable without sticter laws and stricter enforcement.
    Only bonafide US citizens, either natural born or naturalized, should be allowed to own, use, possess, purchase, sell, handle or transfer any firearm or other lethal weapon (crossbows, etc) which can be used to attack others.
    Non-lethal sporting items such as paint ball guns, etc., would be exempt.

    • So much for a fundamental right huh.

      I guess screw my friends who aren’t citizens.

      Good thing laws that were passed by simpletons that blocked on citizens from bearing arms have been struck down and I’m proud to have had a big part in that effort.

      • Your friends have to go back.

        We should not have any immigrants or aliens in the US. We must close the borders for at least 75 years and start mass deportations of all who are not natural born citizens going back 4 generations.

        • Good thing you don’t have a say.

          Other than the “muh right” whining we normally hear on TTAG. Please keep paying your taxes.

          It amazes me how people parrot the 2nd Amendment yet they are clueless about the rest of the constitution and history.

          It’s demoralizing to us that actually do stuff in the 2A world for the cause when we have gun nuts who are morally bankrupt, they just like their guns and that’s it.

        • 4 generations? Why not 10? Or even better – 25 generations. Where you were born is pure luck. Great example of ‘I’ve got mine with no effort of my own and screw everybody else!’

      • There are people who while supporting the second amendment don’t really understand that the clauses and amendments Give no Rights they only restrict the powers of the Union and after the 14th amendment the States as well from abuse of the People’s Rights.

        • So if some-one claims you are an Illegal Alien and you don’t have proof on you otherwise [Right exclusively by Government documentation], then you have no right to due process to prove you are a citizen?
          ?? are you telling me that actually sounds good to you?

          Things get bad enough in this Glory of Government bestowed rights [ Yes.. I am using small “r” on purpose. ] The country you are deported to while without rights, may be the bottom of a ditch, with other “Aliens”.

        • And Rights as used in the 9th amendment exist separately and pre-exist the Country to be a citizen of.

        • That is not correct. Case law has found time and again that when ‘people’ are cited, it means everyone. When ‘citizen’ is used, it specifically means US citizens.

  2. Many states in USA and Canada charge over 10 times the fees for hunting license for non resident. I can understand wanting to not give the government money

    • NYS hunting licenses are exorbitant for residents and out of this world for non residents. I don’t t see how fleecing hunters from other states promotes tourism or is justified. It seems like a scheme to protect residents from competition.

  3. Aren’t we told that undocumented immigrants retain the same rights to the 1st, 4th, 5th, 10th, etc. amendments as citizens?

    Why is the 2nd different?

    Not arguing either way here, just trying to understand …

    • Fear..
      _The meaning of the 2nd amendment has been clear.. but if we thing of the trauma that this country felt after the Vietnam war. The Idea of a war where both side were our brother citizens, explains the trauma that caused the Union to try and Cripple the Militia.
      _Many people think the ATF was created to regulate guns.. wrong.. it was created to regulate special inter-state commerce tax collectors. all of which can quite legitimately be HEAVILY regulated.. it just happens to be ..whisper “guns”..
      The Militia is to be armed to the standard of the Current Military issue.. and out of their own pocket if they choose. Their “Right to Keep and Bear” these and other personal use weapons “can not be infringed”.

      You think they are showing fear now at the idea of Natural Rights of All ‘Men’ throw that in the wash and see what kind of yellow comes out.

  4. I find this interesting:

    An alien admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa is prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing a firearm or ammunition unless the alien … [is] a foreign law enforcement officer of a friendly foreign government entering the United States on official law enforcement business.

    So, a police officer from Canada who comes to the U.S. to investigate a suspect in a Canadian crime can receive, possess, and purchase a firearm in the U.S. Something tells me that Canada will NOT allow a police officer from the United States to do the same. And can you imagine other “paradises” such as Mexico or the Bahamas doing the same? Hah!

    • Canada is a “friendly foreign government”? Huh. the way they treat US gun owners, ya coulda fooled me!

  5. Where’s the usual gang of idiots wanting to deport every non white that wasn’t born here. Go ahead. make his day.

  6. International weapons tourism is really big in the USA. There have been many stories of people coming from every where to America to hold and shoot what they can’t in their home country. It’s big money. Capitalism is wonderful.

  7. ALL of the rights protected by the bill of rights are HUMAN rights, not Citizen rights. These legal Chinese immigrants have as much right to keep and bear arms as anyone else does. The Arizona laws which are restricting them from buying guns are unconstitutional.

    • No. It’s not Arizona law that did them in. They obtained AZ resident hunting licenses. So in the eyes of BATFE, they don’t satisfy AZ resident requirements, thus their hunting licenses are invalid. As a result, it voids the exception based on which they can own firearms. That is a violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5)(B), a federal statute. A bit convoluted.

    • Federal law, not AZ law.

      The AZ law simply charges non-residents more for a hunting license (same as most states). This is quite possibly a 14th amendment issue, but to my knowledge it has never been tested.

    • Yes the hordes of Chicoms allowed into the US is the benefit of actual US CITIZENS and the country.

      You could NOT be more wrong Bob. Contrary to the progtard BS, the US Constitution does NOT apply to noncitizens. The Declaration of Independence may demand we protect anyone within our sight.

      • The constitution doesn’t apply to “non-citizens”? …. so much fail…. ugh….

        Your view of the constitution is just as warped as liberals.

        The founding fathers were clear in that the constitution applied to all free people.

  8. As long as they don’t hurt anyone, anyone should be able to purchase, possess, sell, carry, and use firearms in all 50 states, and anywhere the us has authority.

  9. Recently I asked BATFE Firearms Industry Programs Branch some specific questions about 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5)(B) and 922(y)(2). Here are some takeaways from their answer.

    1. The prohibition in 922(g)(5)(B) only affects those “admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa”. It does not apply to other lawfully admitted nonimmigrants who were not admitted on a nonimmigrant visa (i.e., visa waiver nonimmigrants, Canadian citizens not requiring a nonimmigrant visa, etc.).

    2. Based on 922(y)(2)(A) and 27 CFR 478.11, those in possession of a lawfully issued hunting license (must be valid and unexpired) are exempted. So, make sure to obtain the correct hunting license, and renew ahead of expiration!
    https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/27/478.11

    3. Also based on 27 CFR 478.11, “Admitted to the United States for lawful hunting or sporting purposes” means: (a) Is entering the United States to participate in a competitive target shooting event sponsored by a national, State, or local organization, devoted to the competitive use or other sporting use of firearms; or
    (b) Is entering the United States to display firearms at a sports or hunting trade show sponsored by a national, State, or local firearms trade organization, devoted to the competitive use or other sporting use of firearms.
    Note the key word “admitted”. Therefore, a person admitted for other purposes and didn’t have a valid hunting license, cannot merely join a sportsman’s club and claim that it satisfies the exception.

    4. According to BATFE, renting/shooting a firearm in a range also constitutes “possession”. They referred to ATF FFL Newsletter of March 2013.
    https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/newsletter/federal-firearms-licensees-newsletter-march-2013-volume-2/download
    There is actually such a case and a conviction.
    https://www.investigativeproject.org/case/261/us-v-moussaoui-karim

    • All states and territories do. We got the last of the laws that didn’t changed or declared unconstitutional.

      • Missed Oregon. Being a citizen is required to be granted a CCP. Violates the 2nd and 14th amendments.

      • We the People Enumerate a set of amendments called the Bill of Rights on of which designates that these exist separately from these stated clauses. And stated by the Supreme Court to pre-exist a Country to be a citizen of.

  10. How inane. There should be simply a “hunting license”, not separate “nonresident” or “resident” hunting licenses. Just a “hunting license”, period. If you’re concerned about state revenue and maintenance, then go ahead and charge nonresidents more for the hunting license and be done with it. It’s like how we charge resident tuition and nonresident tuition at our universities. The college credits and eventual degree are the same. Should be the same for hunting or fishing licenses.

    This would be a great change for Arizona, a state whose 2A laws I generally like, to make. This situation shows there’s a problem–a “bug”, if you will–in the law that screws over people who are actually trying to do it right. So, let’s make it easier for them to do it right, since clearly they wanted to.

    And to those who say the Constitution only applies to citizens…as a veteran, I must disagree. The Constitution is simply the legal codification of what are NATURAL HUMAN CIVIL RIGHTS. I’ve been to quite a few countries with New York-style “gun control”; remember Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France. They were sitting ducks, with no way to defend themselves. Let’s contrast that with what would happen if they tried that anywhere in, say, Switzerland! I’d actually pay money to see what the Swiss would do to any such terrorists….

    – T

    • The Swiss would not do anything to these terrorists, since Carry permits are scarce.

      Austria and Switzerland have the best (most liberal) gun laws in Europe, but carry permits are hard to almost impossible to get nowadays.
      If your guns are at home in the save, they are of no use in a terrorist attack.

  11. So all they had to do was pay extra and get the non resident hunting permit?
    And the ATF is going to prosecute them when they made a good faith effort to comply with the law and merely ran afoul of a technicality
    Would it have hurt anyone to inform them that they have the wrong license and give them 30 days to get the correct one?

    • Has the ATF ever concerned itself over a technical violation of a “natural right of man” or “god given right”?

    • The question then becomes one of what it takes to establish residency. The ATF has consistently held that residency can be established by establishing a home and living in it for a period of a continuous 90 days. Many Canadians have residences in Arizona. It appears that if they live at that residence in Arizona for 90 continuous days, they have established residency. In 27CFR 478.11, from 2010, they mention a 3 week vacation as not establishing residency, and a three year rental of a home to work from as establishing residency.

      In the 2006 version, this is the definition of alien residency:
      An alien who is legally in the United States shall be considered to be a resident of a State only if the alien is residing in the State and has resided in the State for a period of at least 90 days prior to the date of sale or delivery of a firearm. The following are examples that illustrate this definition:
      (snip)
      Example 3.
      A, an alien, travels on vacation or on a business trip to State X. Regardless of the length of time A spends in State X, A does not have a State of residence in State X. This is because A does not have a home in State X at which he has resided for at least 90 days.

      The 2005 definition says that residency can be established with lease agreements, utility bills, credit card bills, and or pay stubs if they show the address of the residence.

      • It’s _very_ confusing, that’s for sure! 🙂

        I hope the people who read and write this stuff get free aspirin.

        Adding to the complexity:

        – Different rules for nonimmigrant aliens who require a visa and who don’t require a visa. Canadian tourists generally are nonimmigrant aliens without visa.

        – The rules are different for “buying” and “possessing.” Canadian citizens who are non-residents of the U.S. can’t buy guns for immediate possession (We can buy from an FFL, for export.) But we can legally possess, which we often do by bringing our guns across the border, with ATF authorization.

        – We (Canadians, as nonimmigrant aliens not requiring a visa) used to require a hunting license or invitation to a shooting event to legally import and possess firearms in the U.S. That changed in 2012. (Maybe the same CFR document you and others are referring to?)

        “ATF is adding language in § 478.120(a) (and will also be revising the Form 6NIA) to make clear that nonimmigrants lawfully admitted to the United States without a visa will continue to be required to apply for and obtain an approved Form 6NIA if they are temporarily importing or bringing firearms or ammunition into the United States for lawful hunting or sporting purposes. The amended § 478.120, however, will no longer require nonimmigrant aliens admitted to the United States without a visa to submit documentation that they fall within one of the exceptions in 18 U.S.C. 922(y)(2) or the waiver in section 922(y)(3).”

        https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-06-07/pdf/2012-13762.pdf#page=1

        P.S. I love your articles!

      • Questions of residency are something the federal courts deal with all the time. If they apply the same reasoning to the gun laws as they do to the procedural rules, the ATF definition of residency will be tossed out.

        • The problem with durational residency requirements is that when someone moves to a new state, they are a resident of that state immediately. Such requirements require someone to be a resident for x time before receiving government benefits. This is discriminating against some residents in favor of others.

          I just looked 27 CFR 478.11. It looks like the ATF has already gotten rid of their 90 days nonsense, which had nothing to do with residency. It currently states:

          “State of residence. The State in which an individual resides. An individual resides in a State if he or she is present in a State with the intention of making a home in that State. If an individual is on active duty as a member of the Armed Forces, the individual’s State of residence is the State in which his or her permanent duty station is located, as stated in 18 U.S.C. 921(b). The following are examples that illustrate this definition:” (all references to 90 days have been removed).

          That’s basically what the federal courts say about residency. The federal courts would probably disagree with example 2 in which someone is a resident of their vacation home state when they are in that state for the weekend.

  12. Some folks here are not picking up on the difference between lawful aliens (those who have a visa or green card) and those who are illegals. The far left progressive Dems deliberately ignore this distinction in their endless rage against the rule of law. They refuse to admit there is difference between legal immigrants or visitors (like students) with “green cards” or visas and the vast numbers of “undocumented” aliens, especially those with criminal records (the ones being arrested and deported now). Of course, being here legally does not mean that you will not commit crimes, like the two San Bernadino shooters. Neither does being a “wet back” mean you are inclined to commit further (you already committed one crime – illegal entry) crimes of the sort which put you on the police radar.

  13. We the People..
    The Ninth Amendment Is very clear our Rights.
    __The Rights of We the People, Pre-exist, and exist Without enumeration, before there could EVER BE a United States of America, to create citizens of.
    __Any person with-in these borders how ever they got here are we the people, that doesn’t prevent the method of getting here from being a felony.

    Though we have a great many doubtful non-violent, non-insurgent crimes being Felonies.
    – A Felony currently is still the standard for loss of rights.
    – Not lack of citizenship.

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