Are immigrants allowed to carry guns? And what happens if an immigrant violates a gun control law? These are two controversial issues. We are a nation of immigrants but we also are concerned about the lack of immigration enforcement, especially for aliens that have criminal records. We are also a nation with a lot of guns that is fiercely protective of its gun rights. Yet many people are increasingly alarmed about violence and shooting in our country, particularly at schools. The horrific assault in Newtown, Connecticut is just one of the many school shootings in recent U.S. history.
So, what does the law say about immigrants and guns? First, it is illegal for any alien who is illegally in the U.S. to possess a firearm. This includes those who overstayed a visa and those who entered without permission. It is also illegal for anyone legally present on a visa to possess a firearm. Permanent residents may own, carry, and use guns under the same rules as citizens. However, if any alien, including a permanent resident violates a gun law, he is subject to deportation.
The deportation laws are very strict when it comes to firearms offenses. Any alien convicted under any state or federal law of purchasing, selling, offering for sale, exchanging, using, owning, possessing, or carrying a firearm in violation of law, including any part or accessory, is deportable. Essentially any offense that involves guns is deportable. People have been deported even for misdemeanor offenses involving guns, such as reckless discharge or concealed firearm offenses.
There are also some firearms offenses that are aggravated felonies, meaning mandatory deportation with almost no possible of relief. These are federal crimes that forbid illegal aliens from carrying guns, transporting or receiving firearms with intent to commit certain crimes, or receipt, manufacture, or possession of firearms without proper licenses or taxes.
In short, a nation that considers gun ownership a constitutional right is highly restrictive of immigrants owning guns, and allows for the deportation of any legal or illegal alien convicted of almost any gun-related crime. If you or someone you love finds themselves in trouble, call the Law Office of Salmon-Haas to help you.