FBI Warned of ‘Loophole Used by Foreign Extremists’ to Buy Guns Months Before Pensacola Shooting


Foreigners who travel to the US with non-immigrant visas (e.g. for tourism, work or study) are generally not eligible to own or buy guns, with some exceptions. One of the exceptions is the possession of a valid hunting license.

The FBI had put up a warning about visiting foreigners who can exploit the hunting license loophole in federal law, Yahoo News reports. This appears to be how the Saudi gunman who went on a shooting spree at a naval base in Florida last Friday armed himself.

The FBI report, a copy of which was seen by Yahoo News, was titled “Federal Hunting License Exception Could Be Exploited by Extremists or Criminal Actors Seeking to Obtain Firearms for Violent Attacks” and issued on 22 May.

What is this exception about?

Under Title 18 of the US Code, non-immigrant visa holders are allowed to purchase firearms in the country if they possess a “valid hunting licence or permit”. Such foreign nationals can also qualify for a firearms license if they are admitted for lawful hunting or sporting purposes, or if they serve as official representatives of a foreign government or are the law enforcement officers of a friendly foreign government entering the US on official law enforcement business.

The report specifically warned businesses that “extremists and other criminal actors” may seek to exploit the hunting licence exception. The FBI also noted that foreign terror groups “have encouraged Westerners to…

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