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Pensacola gunman got around a ban on foreigners buying guns

YAHOO.COM December 10, 2009 –  Generally, foreigners are not allowed to buy guns in the United States. But there are exceptions written into federal law, which may explain how the Saudi flight student who shot three servicemen to death at the Pensacola naval base was able to purchase a weapon.

For example, a foreigner who manages to obtain a state hunting license and can show proof of residency in that state can legally buy a gun.

“It seems every day we find a new loophole,” said Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law and an expert on gun laws and politics.

Authorities have not disclosed precisely how 21-year-old Mohammed Alshamrani, a Royal Saudi Air Force officer undergoing months of flight training at the Florida military base, obtained the Glock 9 mm handgun he used in the attack Friday that ended with him being killed. But the FBI said it was purchased legally in Florida.

In the aftermath of the rampage, which the FBI is treating as a terrorist attack, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis questioned whether foreigners should be allowed to buy guns. The Republican governor said he supports the Second Amendment but it “does not apply to Saudi Arabians.”

Law enforcement officials from nations friendly to the United States who are here on official business as well as foreigners who have entered the U.S. through the visa waiver program are among those exempted from the laws against foreigners buying weapons.

In Florida, like many other states, foreigners and non-residents can buy a hunting license. Getting one requires no background check, and it can be done online. With that license in hand, a foreigner can then purchase a firearm, provided the would-be buyer can show the dealer proof that he or she is living in the state.

It is at that point that the person would have to undergo a background check.

There have been instances of foreigners seeking to exploit American gun laws.

In one case in 2017, more than half a dozen Chinese students at the University of Arizona obtained hunting licenses and then purchased firearms. In that particular case, it did not appear to be for nefarious purposes but out of a desire to do something not allowed in their home country: possess a gun. [full article]

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