FACT CHECK: Can ‘Illegal Immigrants’ Purchase Firearms As A Result Of Updates Made To ATF Background Check Policy?
A viral video shared on Instagram purports the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has updated its background check policy and has given an exemption to “illegal immigrants” to be able to purchase firearms.
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An ATF spokesperson denied the claim’s validity in an email to Check Your Fact.
Baltimore City is suing the ATF over allegations that the bureau “improperly denied critical gun crime data,” according to CBS News. Mayor Brandon Scott claims the bureau denied a September Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for data looking at gun crimes in Baltimore from 2018 to 2022, the outlet reported.
The Instagram video, which has received over 74,000 likes, purports the ATF has updated its background check policy and has given an exemption to “illegal immigrants” to be able to purchase firearms. The woman who appears in the video claims to have received the information from her husband, who supposedly owns a gun shop.
The claim is false, however. According to the ATF’s website, noncitizens residing in the U.S. are not necessarily automatically barred from purchasing firearms and can purchase firearms under certain criteria.
Specifically, the ATF website states that “an alien legally in the U.S. is not prohibited from purchasing firearms unless the alien is admitted into the U.S. under a nonimmigrant visa and does not meet one of the exceptions as provided in 18 U.S.C. 922(y)(2), such as possession of a valid hunting license or permit.”
In addition to providing exceptions pertaining to hunting licenses, 18 U.S.C. 922(y)(2) also makes exceptions for official representatives of foreign governments under multiple criteria and foreign law enforcement officers of friendly foreign governments who enter the U.S. on “official law enforcement business.”
Likewise, Check Your Fact found no recent credible news reports supporting the claim. (RELATED: Tweet Allegedly From Jack Smith Is From Parody Account)
Johnny Michael, an ATF spokesperson, denied the claim’s validity in an email to Check Your Fact.
“The claims in the Instagram posting are false. In the Gun Control Act, Congress established statutory prohibitions on firearm possession by certain persons, including certain categories of non-citizens, and the amendments in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to the GCA did not change those categories,” Michael said.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 excludes multiple categories of people from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing firearms or ammunition, including fugitives, illegal aliens, and anyone who has renounced their U.S. citizenship, among others, according to the ATF’s website.
Besides Check Your Fact, Lead Stories also debunked the claim.