Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) announced introduction of the Foreign National Firearms Background Check Enhancement Act. The bill, co-led by Representatives John Rutherford (R-FL) and Val Demings (D-FL) would close the ‘Pensacola loophole’, an exception in federal law that allows foreign nationals to purchase guns if they first acquire a valid state hunting license. The Pensacola loophole is what allowed a Saudi foreign national to purchase a gun and open fire at the Naval Air Base Pensacola on December 6th, injuring eight and killing three people.
“As communities in Florida, Georgia and Alabama mourn the loss of three of our best and brightest young airmen, Congress has a responsibility to step in and close the loophole that made this tragedy possible,” said Rep. Crist. “Foreign nationals should not be able to buy a firearm through the purchase of a hunting license. We need tougher vetting than that, and requiring them to petition the Attorney General directly would provide greater scrutiny and security for the American people.”
“Following the tragedy at Naval Air Station Pensacola, it is clear that Congress must act to close a loophole in federal gun laws that allowed a foreign visitor to legally purchase a firearm and kill three Americans,” said Rep. Rutherford. “As the former Sheriff of Duval County and a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, I believe that all foreigners seeking to purchase a firearm must be vetted both here in the U.S. and in their country of origin. This bipartisan bill is crucial to strengthening our national security and keeping communities safe. Thank you to Representatives Crist and Demings for their bipartisan work on this legislation.”
“Guns in the wrong hands lead to tragedy, like the tragic shooting at NAS Pensacola this month. It’s simply common sense that people shouldn’t be able to get a gun anywhere, anytime. Nearly every American agrees with this basic principle, yet the gun lobby has left federal gun laws riddled with loopholes,” said Rep. Demings. “This legislation, like other bills already passed by the House and awaiting a vote in the Senate, will close a loophole and bring our laws back in line with common sense.”
Background on the Foreign National Firearms Background Check Enhancement Act:
Under Title 18 of the US Code there are four mechanisms that allow a foreign national to purchase and/or possess a firearm in the United States.
1. If the individual is an official representative of a foreign government
2. If the individual is a member of foreign law enforcement entering the United States on official law enforcement business
3. If the individual is in possession of a hunting license.
4. Additionally, foreign nationals may petition the Attorney General to purchase and/or possess a firearm if they have been residing in the US for more than 180 consecutive days.
If enacted, the legislation would require all foreign nationals that fall into any of the above four categories to petition the U.S. Attorney General for the right to purchase a firearm, providing a more rigorous and intensive background check and ongoing oversight.