Many Foreign Tourists—and Most Foreign Students—Are Barred from Going to Shooting Ranges

Come from England or Japan for a short visit? Feel free to shoot at a range! Return on a student visa? Federal felony for you (and friends who take you) if you go shooting. Unless, of course, you've gotten a hunting license -- even if the range visit is completely unrelated to the hunting.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

I just learned about this in researching Rehaif v. U.S., the new Supreme Court guns/illegal aliens/mens rea case, so I thought I'd pass it along. This is especially important, I think, if you tend to take classmates, coworkers, or other acquaintances to shooting ranges (as I've done myself).

[1.] Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), bans gun and ammunition possession not just by felons, illegal aliens, illegal drug users, and the like, but also by aliens who have been perfectly legally "admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa."

[2.] "Possess[ing]" and "receiv[ing]" has been viewed as including temporary rental of a gun at a shooting range; indeed, that was one of the bases for prosecution in Rehaif. Rehaif was illegally present, but the statutory definition of possession and receipt would apply equally to all the categories of forbidden possessors and recipients, including people legally admitted under a nonimmigrant visa. Likewise, see U.S. v. Moussaoui (11th Cir. 2010), in which the defendant was indeed a legal visitor prosecuted for possession at a shooting range.

[3.] But who is covered as having been admitted under a "nonimmigrant visa"? According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives,

Generally, "nonimmigrant aliens" are tourists, students, business travelers, and temporary workers who enter the U.S. for fixed periods of time; they are lawfully admitted aliens who are not lawful permanent residents. In order to meet the definition of a nonimmigrant alien, the individual MUST hold a nonimmigrant visa. The definition does NOT include permanent resident aliens, aliens legally admitted to the U.S. with a visa other than a nonimmigrant visa, or aliens legally admitted to the U.S. without a visa.

So people who are on short-term trips from a Visa Waiver Program country (most European, East Asian, and Pacific democracies, plus Brunei and Chile), or countries as to which we have similar visa-free entry rules (Canada and Bermuda, I think), are not forbidden by federal law from renting a gun at a shooting range, or even buying or borrowing a gun to keep at their temporary home. But if they're tourists or short-term business visitors from, say, China or India or Israel or Mexico or Brazil—trips for which a visa is required—then they are so forbidden; likewise if they're here for an extended stay as a student or a business traveler.

[4.] What's more, if you take someone to a range knowing that they are, say, a U.K. citizen here on a student visa, or an Indian citizen here for a short trip, you are yourself likely committing the crime of aiding and abetting that person's illegal gun possession, or of conspiring with that person to illegally possess a gun. And that's so even if you don't know the conduct is illegal, so long as you know about the person's immigration status.

Likewise, a range employee who rents a gun and sells ammunition to a visitor knowing that the visitor is an alien here on a nonimmigrant visa—for instance, because a tour guide or a friend of the visitor mentions that the visitor is just briefly visiting from China, or some such—is also guilty as an aider and abettor or a coconspirator.

That's so even if the employee isn't 100% sure that the visitor is here on a nonimmigrant visa; under the "ostrich doctrine," a jury can be instructed that it "may find that a defendant acted knowingly if you find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant … was aware of a high probability that [a particular fact was true], and … deliberately avoided learning the truth." At least some courts hold that "failure to investigate" when one has knowledge of a high probability of an incriminating fact "can be a deliberate action." And it's also possible that the range employee might be guilty under 18 U.S.C. § 922(d) even if he just has reason to know of the visitor's immigrant visa status, though that's complicated (see the Rental of Firearm On-Premises section of this ATF publication). I expect that the typical range employee is safe because he has little reason to know the visa status of a foreign visitor; but an employee who knows that a visitor is a Chinese tourists and that most Chinese tourists come in on a tourist visa might well be guilty.

[5.] There are, though, some exception to the nonimmigrant alien possession ban, in subsection (y)(2) of the statute; they are chiefly for certain foreign officials, for aliens "admitted to the United States for lawful hunting or sporting purposes," or for aliens who are "in possession of a hunting license or permit lawfully issued in the United States."

So if the alien gets a hunting license, from any state (not just the one he's in), he's exempt from the ban until the license expires. That's apparently true regardless of whether he goes hunting, or plans to go hunting, or shoots with the gun with which he will hunt, or buys a gun with which he will hunt.

Some states (for instance, Alaska and Arizona) appear to let you order such licenses entirely online, and at a relatively modest cost (it seems to be $20 for a short-term Arizona license and a $60 for a longer small-game Alaska license, though I'm not positive). There's always some danger, to be sure, when one uses this sort of formalistic workaround that seems pretty clearly nonresponsive to the "spirit of the law," whatever that might be; it's possible that a prosecutor will think it's too clever by half, and that a court will agree. But as I read the letter of the law, buying this sort of cheap out-of-state license online should indeed be sufficient to exempt the buyer from the ban on possession and receipt by immigrant-visa visitors. (It wouldn't do anything for people who are forbidden to possess guns because they are felons, illegal aliens, and the like, since the hunting license exception doesn't apply to them.)

[* * *]

Naturally, this is just a general perspective; there may be extra complexities stemming from state laws and from other matters. But this should give you a sense of what's potentially dangerous (even if not of what's 100% safe)—and a sense of just how odd gun laws can be.

UPDATE: I originally gave a Canadian on a student visa as an example, but it seems that Canadians (and Bermudans) don't need student visas to study in the U.S.; thanks to reader JeffDG for alerting me to this. I changed the example to U.K. citizens, and it could equally work for citizens of many other countries as well.


NEXT: Theories of State Constitutional Interpretation

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  1. Wow, I had no idea. My view is that the interpretation of the law should be that tif you are legally here, 2nd Amendment applies. You are legally here, you can shoot. Why does so much of the Constitution, regulation, procedure, etc., apply to everyone, even illegal immigrants, and this does not?

    The hunting exception boggles my mind, too. Why does that particular recreation use of firearms allow for an exemption, but no other? Target shooting – like an international competition – how about that? But then, the language of the ATF document says, in delineating the exemptions, “2. was admitted to the United States for lawful hunt- ing or sporting purposes.” This could include any firearm related sporting activity, no? Must it be the sole reason for one’s visit? Must it be declared when entering or applying for the VISA? How would that be documented or substantiated?

    One more thing, Prof. Volokh, you state “if you take someone to a range knowing that they are, say, a Canadian citizen here on a student visa, or an Indian citizen here for a short trip, you are yourself likely committing the crime of aiding and abetting that person’s illegal gun possession, or of conspiring with that person to illegally possess a gun.” Is that really so? Isn’t it up to the person renting or loaning the gun to determine the legality?

    1. Gun laws in general don’t make any sense from either the anti-gun or pro-gun points of view. Instead, they’re a no-mans-land resulting from decades of bitter trench warfare between the two sides.

      1. Mostly due to the fact that the people drafting the laws are almost always anti-gunners, and anti-gunners not only are generally ignorant about firearms, but are militantly so, and contemptuous of anybody who isn’t.

        So they frequently make stupid blunders. For instance, the legal definition of armor piercing ammo:

        ” A projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or

        A full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.”

        And so, there are any number of functionally indistinguishable materials you could use in the core of a bullet, which would not legally render it an “armor piercing” round. Normal rather than depleted uranium, for instance.

        1. As far as I can tell, your beef is with the 99th Congress led by the famously anti-gun Strom Thurmond and with the famously anti-gun president Ronald Reagan who signed this law.

          1. Actually, Reagan wasn’t so much anti-gun, as just a moderate on the topic. But it’s still the case that gun laws tend to get written by anti-gunners, even in moderate administrations, because they’re the people who want gun laws.

            1. Reagan was governor in California who signed an open carry ban.

              Let’s face it, gun rights views among conservatives have changed a lot over the last 25 years. Much to the better.

              1. Most of that change has been among conservative “leaders” ( elected office-holders and pundits) who, in the past were pressured to adopt the “reasonable” positions on gun laws favored by the Fourth Estate. Rank and file conservative opinion hasn’t changed all that much that I can see.

                1. The conservative “leaders” were forced to change, when the media lost it’s power to maintain preference falsification on this issue, and all the pro-gun conservatives woke up to the fact that they weren’t actually a small minority of the population, and were an absolute majority of Republicans.

                  Reagan has this reputation as the ur-conservative. But the truth is that he wasn’t actually all that conservative by today’s standards, or even relative to the private opinions of Republicans at the time. He was just shockingly conservative relative to what the party establishment had previously permitted. So much so that he had to pick a comparatively left-wing Republican, Bush, as his running mate, in order to keep them from spiking his campaign.

                  That relative conservatism left him with a reputation as very conservative, even though he was actually a moderate relative to the party’s base.

          2. Gun bans were a Jim Crow invention to disarm blacks. Unsurprising that Strom Thurmond supported gun control.

              1. Historic gun bans were often race based.

          3. Martinned: The ban on gun possession by legal aliens who entered under a nonimmigrant visa was apparently enacted in 1998 (Pub. L. 105-277, an omnibus bill), during the second Clinton Administration. I don’t know who the driving force was behind this particular provision.

            1. I think Martinned was referring to the ban on armor piercing ammunition.

              Strom Thurmond did indeed introduce such a measure in the Senate in 1985 (S.104) but it was abandoned in favor of a similar bill from Rep. Mario Biaggi (H.R.3132)

              1. Oh, I see now, I misunderstood Martinned’s comment — sorry, and thanks for setting me straight.

            2. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. I was on a non-immigrant visa at the time and followed this BS law closely. Fortunately, it included the escape clause of “having a hunting license or permit”. I bought the cheapest hunting license I could find and made sure to keep it valid until I became a permanent resident.

            3. I don’t have access to a (US) legal database, so I used the publicly available stuff on the Cornell Legal Information Institute website, which isn’t quite as user friendly. (Since it doesn’t allow you to see the amending provisions in context. ) I traced this mess back to the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act (1986), which introduced some references to and definitions of “illegal aliens” in s. 922. Then again, given how illegible Anglo-American statutes tend to be, I might well have been wrong.

              1. P.S. the only reason why I mentioned Thurmond is because, in 1986, he was the Senate President pro tem.

    2. If you are coming for a shooting competition, the match sponsors in most cases will provide a roadmap to get the correct visa. As an aside, when Canadians come down for USPSA pistol matches the Open class shooters drill out the rivets that limit the magazine to ten rounds. At end of match, new rivets installed for the trip home.

    3. “My view is that the interpretation of the law should be that tif you are legally here, 2nd Amendment applies.”

      Bit of a stretch to think that british or japanese nationals are part of a United States well regulated militia.

      1. Your mistake is thinking that the militia clause predominate over the “right of the people to keep and bear arms” part of the amendment.

        Now, they might not be allowed guns as non-citizens as they don’t have the same rights as citizens, but it has nothing to do with militia status.

      2. Honest historians have noted that the prefatory clause about the militia is a state interest in preserving the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

        It is not a limiting clause to only militia members or potential militia members.

        The US Supreme Court held in D.C. v Heller 2008 that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes.

        DOJ Office of Legal Council Report 2004 confirms what the 1981 DOJ analysis showed.

        As Don B. Kates observed in his article on the Second Amendment in the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution,
        “However controversial the meaning of the Second Amendment is
        today, it was clear enough to the generation of 1789. The
        amendment assured to the people “their private arms,” said an
        article which received James Madison’s approval and was
        the only analysis available to Congress when it voted.”

    4. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

      Tourists aren’t members of the people. It definitely applies to citizens. There is precedent it applies to legal permanent residents. Legal tourists, like illegal aliens, are neither.

  2. Just a grammar nit that I find interesting. You use “bases” as the plural of “basis.” This always makes a bell go off in my head. I always thought the plural of basis was pronounced “base-ease” and that therefore the spelling was baseis. I did a little google research and found this:

    So I guess bases as the plural of basis in print is common and correct. But I wonder ho folks pronounce it.

    (BW, is there a guide for putting anything other than plain text into comments here? I’d like to occasionally use italics, bold, etc., and also embed links with helpful alternate text. Today I had to go to tinyurl to produce the link above since the original link is word with more than 50 characters here.)

    1. Some subset of normal html works here, I haven’t explored how much of it. Certainly links, italics, and bold.

      Here’s a handy reference, give it a try!

      Don’t skip the quotes around the url, they’re important.

      1. Thank you!

    2. It’s like “parenthesis”/”parentheses,” “crisis”/”crises,” “thesis”/”theses,” “axis”/”axes,” “oasis”/”oases,” and the like. English follows what I believe are the Latin pluralization rules for these words. The suffixes are generally pronounced “-eez.”

  3. From an originalist standpoint, the 2nd amendment was to be incorporated via the P&I clause, and if it had been, it would only be applicable to citizens. Possibly also legal resident aliens, but even that would be a bit of a stretch.

    But it wasn’t incorporated via P&I, but rather “substantive due process”. And the due process clause applies to people, not citizens. Even illegal aliens are entitled to due process.

    So, if the courts were actually following the logic of substantive due process incorporation, EVERYBODY in the US, at least who isn’t a convicted felon, has 2nd amendment rights. Even illegal aliens.

    But, of course, the courts rarely apply normal legal and constitutional logic to the 2nd amendment. It’s almost always subject to the “but, guns!” rule.

    1. Brett, you’ve made this point before. Are you referencing McDonald for the due process vs. P&I decision? I don’t think it settled the question, because although Justice Thomas was the fifth vote supporting incorporation he did not sign on to due process as the justification.

    2. Whether and how the Second Amendment was incorporated is relevant to regulation of guns by the states, but is completely irrelevant to any analysis of a Federal law. When looking to Federal law, the relevant source is the text of the Amendment, and specifically “the right of the people”. So, here, under Federal law, 18 U.S.C. 922(g), Congress has decided that wide classes of persons legally present in the U.S. are NOT included within “the people”. Do you think the same construction could be applied in other Amendments which describe “the right of the people”, like the First Amendment (“the right of the people peaceably to assemble . . . “) or the Fourth Amendment (“the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects . . . “)? Could legal alien residents be denied First Amendment and Fourth Amendment protection by the Federal government?

      1. Oh, I agree. 14th amendment incorporates as regards to citizens, but the amendment in its native application to the federal government applies to “the People”, which the Supreme court has interpreted to mean not just citizens, but anybody who has a significant connection to the country, such as legal resident aliens.

        United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez:

        The Fourth Amendment phrase “the people” seems to be a term of art used in select parts of the Constitution and contrasts with the words “person” and “accused” used in Articles of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments regulating criminal procedures. This suggests that “the people” [494 U.S. 259, 260] refers to a class of persons who are part of a national community or who have otherwise developed sufficient connection with this country to be considered part of that community.

        So, states could disarm legal resident aliens under this interpretation, but the federal government could not. Under either approach, illegal aliens were out of luck.

  4. I am extremely surprised that the Federal definition of “receive” has been held to include temporary rentals. In Maryland one needs an special permit (“HQL”) to “purchase, rent, or receive a handgun” since 2013. However, this does not cover temporary borrowing or temporary gratuitous transfers (Chow vs State of MD 2005 is considered the authority). So, one does not need an HQL to rent handguns.

    I would have thought that Maryland follows the Federal definition. I now wonder in how many other states “receive” is different at state and federal level.

    Most ranges in MD ask only for ID, plus a range-rule waiver (that is, no questions about immigrant status or other prohibitors). I feel sure that on any given weekend, I could find people renting guns (even machine guns!) who are otherwise prohibited under federal law. Are they breaking federal law by renting guns?

    Seems to me its plausible that answer is that the federal definition comes into play when an out-of-state resident rents a gun (say, a MD resident rents a gun in Las Vegas). For Rehaif, that would be the case here, since he is not a resident of any state, presumably. BTW, all ranges I know of require ID, so it seems unlikely that the range where Rehaif rented the gun did not know his immigrant / residency status (unless Rehaif had a state drivers license and claimed residency, which is a whole other problem).

    It still makes me wonder: In how many other states “receive” is different at state and federal level.

  5. Just to pick a nit. You would not have a “Canadian Citizen on a student visa”.

    Canadians (along with Bermudians) are visa exempt. Even when they come to the US for long term things like students, they do not need a visa.

    For example, when I moved to the US from Canada, I received L1 status, but I never had an L1 Visa. A Visa permits you to enter the US, and is issued by the State Department. Status is what gives you the privilege to work or study in the US, and is issued by USCIS. In order to receive a visa, you have to go to an embassy. I received my L1 status at the border.

    The distinction is small, but in this context, important.

    1. Canadians can receive L1 visas at the border. AFAIK it’s the only way to get L1 status.

      Canadian students do need visas, unless they’re on exchange.

      1. Nope.

        Canadians do not get L1 “Visas”. They apply for, and are granted if qualified, L1 Status by USCIS. Canadians are exempt from almost all non-immigrant visa categories. It’s not like the “Visa Waiver Program”, it is a complete exemption from visa requirements.

        I know this because I spent 4 years in the US in L1 Status and never had to get a visa ever.

        For your reference, see 8 CFR ? 212.1(a)(1):

        (1)Canadian citizens. A visa is generally not required for Canadian citizens, except those Canadians that fall under nonimmigrant visa categories E, K, S, or V as provided in paragraphs (h), (l), and (m) of this section and 22 CFR 41.2. A valid unexpired passport is required for Canadian citizens arriving in the United States, except when meeting one of the following requirements:

        Note that “F” is not one of the categories that Canadians need visas for, so students would not need an F1 Student Visa either.

        1. Just for additional info, the categories of Canadians who do need non-immigrant visas:
          E: Investor
          K: Fiance
          S: Witness
          V: Spouse or child of Lawful Permanent Resident

  6. Buying a hunting license is not as simple as just booting up the computer and filling out a form – in every state I can think of one has to have attended and successfully completed a “Hunter Safety” course. Such a course is about 12 total hours (divided between self-study and in-class and practical instruction). On completion of the course one receives a card/diploma which bears what is effectively a registration number to prove the course was given through a recognized authority. I first took a hunter safety course over 40 years ago when I started hunting, then had to re-take it a couple years ago to get an instructor certification (because the old one was from the days before the registration number).

    And, of course, in most states making a false statement to get a hunting license is just a species of making a false statement.

    So, the alien would have to find a hunter safety course – not that easy to the uninitiated – and get into the course, then complete the course. Seating is limited and they’re often oversubscribed, sometimes by anti-hunters who then never show up just to jam the system.

    The hunting license “exception” exists because people do come here from other countries to hunt. Be it game birds, big game or whatever, hunting opportunities are much more extensive here than in many other countries.
    … continues …

    1. continued…
      . Additionally there are huntable species here which are either unavailable in other countries (e.g., ruffed grouse, the various prairie grouse, bighorn sheep) or prohibitively expensive to hunt there. (Elk and moose, which are circumpolar in distribution, come first to mind.)

      Moreover, those “foreign” hunters can be a lucrative funding source for state fish and game departments (always strapped for money), paying big money to hunt. To throw a dart at the wall for an example, Montana charges residents $125 for a license to hunt moose and non-residents (which includes aliens) $1250. Similarly it charges residents $20 for an elk license but up to $885 for non-residents.

      AFAIK, the “sporting” exception exists for shooting competitions. I have heard – but do not know for sure – that a written invitation to a prospective competitor from the event is what would suffice to invoke the sporting exception. Of course, what is or is not an “event” of sufficient stature to support the exception is another story.

      1. Funy thing about at least elk hunting. Guy I know in MT only hunts elk in CO. Know another guy in CO who goes to MT to hunt such. I expect a lot more hunting pressure on the elk in CO, But the MT guy hunts down by Gunnison, and claims it is pretty good. But know another guy living about 10 miles out of town who gets elk tags every year for both him and his wife, because she can bag hers shooting from their kitchen (removing the screen every fall is on his Honey Do list). So, my theory is that for a lot of hunters, the travel out of town is a big part of the experience.

        Was looking at an off grid house last summer right across the border in N ID. Real estate person had photos of the elk coming through the property and suggested using it as a (2k sq ft) hunting cabin for such. Except that it would require, for me, an out of state hunting license, despite being only 20 miles from our house in NW MT to the ID state line.

    2. Texas is 100% online and $35.

    3. The requirement for attendance of a hunter education course varies from state to state and also within states. Illinois grandfathered in hunters who had been getting hunting licenses in the years before the date the course was required.

      1. Yup, as an old fart I’ve never had to take such a course. Grandfathered in.

    4. Can be solved quite easily:

      Rhode Island offers the cheapest non-resident hunting licenses at $45 online:…..mits-fees/

      It does require hunter ed, but that will be a one-time expense.

      1. Update: The fee for the Rhode Island online course is $20 and it is a one-time fee.

        Hunting licenses from a federally recognized Indian tribe are also valid, and may be even cheaper and may not require hunter ed.

        From the ATF publication:

        An alien admitted to the U.S. under a nonimmigrant visa is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammuni-tion unless he or she falls within one of the following exemptions:

        is in possession of a hunting license or permit lawfully issued by the Federal Government, a State, or local government, or an Indian tribe federally recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is valid and unexpired. The hunting license does not have to be from the State in which the business premises is located;

    5. And of course, it would have to be a hunter safety course that doesn’t involve students using guns, as the alien isn’t allowed to possess one, even temporarily, until he gets that hunting license.

  7. I’m more interested in the limits of the ‘sporting purposes’ exception.

    I have little doubt that participation in any sort of formal shooting competition would suffice, but what about if one were to participate in a firearms safety or hunter safety class? Anyone of near student age would almost certainly be required to have some sort of hunter safety certificate in order to obtain a hunting license.

    Would the class have to be formal? Would it require the presence of an instructor with some sort of certification?

    More specifically what if I took the foreign exchange student(s) living in my household down to the range to teach them proper firearm handling and basic shooting? What about that does not qualify as “sporting?”

    1. The exception is “was admitted to the United States for lawful hunt-2. ing or sporting purposes;”

      Having been through the system, I would interpret this as applying only if a visitor came to the US specifically to hunt or for a shooting competition. Your foreign exchange students would likely not qualify. I would get them the cheapest hunting license you can find.

      1. That seems overly strict and exclusionary. Sporting activities are an accepted and well recognized aspect of student life in most all years of study. It would be unrealistic to think that exchange students would not avail themselves of whatever sporting opportunities were presented.

        1. What about a student who goes to SAFS at Camp Perry during the summer break? (If they even can; it’s been a long time since I looked at the eligibility rules.)

          I do remember meeting the Australian AR-15 team at Camp Perry some years ago.

        2. I agree with you completely, but we’re talking about abusive federal prosecutors here.

  8. The problem is that nearly every gun law on the books in the U.S. was passed while the judiciary was ignoring the 2nd Amendment and pretending it didn’t exist. For sure, the lower courts are still doing it, but it’s harder when the SCOTUS has already declared it a fundamental right. Not deserving of the level of protection that august rights like killing fetuses and having buttsex with men, but a fundamental right nonetheless.

    1. I’ve made that point myself; It’s a major problem with the ‘in common use’ standard from Heller. What sorts of guns are in common use has been warped by laws adopted while the Court was refusing to take 2nd amendment cases.

      Prior to that period, there hadn’t been any difference between civilian and military arms. Even the Miller Court acknowledged that the arms the 2nd amendment protected private ownership of were those suited for military purposes.

      1. The left likes to play it both ways. Arms that are not suited to military service are not protected because only “militia” arms are protected, but arms that are well suited to military service (like full autos) are TOO dangerous and thus are “dangerous and unusual” and similarly not protected.

        In other words, NOTHING is protected!

  9. you have to be careful with the hunting license part too, AZ requires residency to get one and students don’t have residency.

    1. Not so, I just went to the AZ hunting license site and there is clearly a non-resident license and online application.

      1. Hmm, I wonder why they got the wrong license type in that case.

    2. Residency means different things in different contexts. In the context of tuition, it has a different meaning than simply residing in a place.

      I was a foreign student in Arizona many many years ago. I was not a resident for the purpose of tuition, but I was a resident for most other purposes, including getting a drivers license. Not surprisingly, since I actually lived there.


    if a rental range asks for ID, and is given a foreign DL from a country that you need a visa to get here from, I wonder whether that’s enough for the range to be charged for providing a firearm to a prohibited person. While not all residents get a local DL, it’s a pretty good indicator.

  11. Gun laws, like most modern mala prohibita laws, are complicated so they can be used as needed by prosecutors.

  12. Given the gun laws in England and Japan (which meant that their olympic biathlon team was virtually practicing with broomsticks), such tourists/students should not be surprised at finding themselves similarly restricted here.

  13. Understanding it may be a surprise to foreign visitors, it follows straightforwardly from the 2nd Amendment’s “right of the people to keep and bear arms,” and the fact that foreign tourists aren’t members of “the people.”

    I support a 2nd Amendment individual right on textualist/legitimist grounds, not because I personally think it’s good policy, because when “the people” appears in other constitutional amendments, e.g. the 1st and 4th, it makes no sense unless it’s read as an individual right. And on the same textualist/legitimist grounds, I accept the limitations on the scope of the 2nd Amendment that are explicitly in the text, including that the right is limited to “the people.”

    1. I tend to agree on textual grounds, but if we’re going that way, Congress has no constitutional authority to prohibit anyone from possessing firearms (with exceptions for military bases and certain federal property),

    2. Wouldn’t your reading of the people in the Second also apply to the Fourth?

      1. Indeed. Thus ICE’s position that it doesn’t need warrants to arrest illegal aliens in public or raid illegal alien-owned property.

  14. My state consiitution as read by state courts, attorney generals and the legislature, protects the right of the citizens of this state to keep and bear arms for all traditional and lawful purposes but the state reserves the power to regulate use of arms in public with a view to prevent crime. That colors my view of gun control.

    With a view to prevent crime, such as assault, murder, unlawful insurrection, reckless endangerment, etc.

    Not with a view to create nonsense crimes, such owning a shoulder thing that goes up or loaning a gun for target practice.

    Suppose on the mountain on family property I allowed a visitor from a foreign country to shoot at targets with one of my guns. How is federally felonizing that a reasonable regulation with a view to prevent crime?

  15. Professor Volokh, sorry for the off topic question but will you be addressing whether the government speech doctrine is the First Amendment right of governmental entities — See Alabama state court ruling that state law violated city’s First Amendment right (link to opinion below) . While the First Amendment does not give a person the right to interfere with government speech, I have never considered this to mean that a governmental entity has a First Amendment right. Thoughts?

    State of Alabama v. City of Birmingham

    1. Thanks for the news tip (though usually e-mailing me at volokh at is the better way to reach me about such matters); I just posted an item about it..

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