In the midst of the Fast and Furious scandal, the Obama administration just made it easier for immigrants in the United States legally to purchase weapons from licensed firearms dealers.
Under the Gun Control Act (GCA), individuals are generally prohibited from transferring firearms to “any unlicensed person who they know or have reasonable cause to believe does not reside in the State in which the transferor resides.”
But federal firearms regulations have defined “state of residence” differently for U.S. citizens and aliens, according to an open letter to federally licensed firearms dealers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). While a U.S. citizen’s state of residence is where they intend to make a home; an “alien” is only considered a resident if they “resided in that State for a period of at least 90 days prior to the date of transfer with the intention of making a home.”
In a letter sent on Thursday to federally licensed firearms dealers, ATF said that the Justice Department “has recently concluded that, as a matter of law, applying a more stringent State residency requirement for aliens legally present in the U.S. than for U.S. citizens is incompatible with the language of the GCA.”
ATF will be revising their regulations and removing the 90-day requirement for legal non-residents.
“Once the regulations have been revised, both U.S. citizens and aliens legally present in the U.S. will be subject to the same requirements for State residency and proof of residency,” ATF’s letter states.
The Obama Justice Department’s decision to revoke the 90-day requirement and make it easier for legal non-residents to purchase weapons comes as Republicans have accused DOJ of engaging in a far-fetched conspiracy to let guns “walk” over the border in order to enact restrictions on gun rights. The move, which comes after the administration signed bills into law that made it legal to carry weapons on Amtrak and in national parks, isn’t likely to earn the administration any fans in the gun-control lobby.
A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.