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What are the less-obvious ramifications to applying for a gun license?
April 22, 2010 3:50 PM   Subscribe

GunFilter: What, if any, are the less-obvious ramifications of getting both a concealed-carry permit (WA state), and an alien firearms license (which is required in this case to get the permit)? For example, I assume these licenses show up on police computers - might that change the way police interact with you under certain circumstances? Are there other aspects of life where these licenses, or the database entries created by them, might influence situations?

The license application process involves submitting fingerprints to the FBI, which I assume (for example) could open the door to a false-positive print match with a crimescene, however my understanding is that the FBI already has the prints of resident aliens, so the fingerprinting would not change the status quo in this case.
What else?

If you have a burning desire to recommend a website for people new to all this, that would also be great!
posted by anonymisc to Law & Government (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Don't know about the alien firearms license aspect, but I wouldn't expect much in the way of differences just because your on record as having a permit, UNLESS YOU'RE ACTUALLY CARRYING. For example, if you're carrying & get pulled over in a traffic stop & the cop comes to your window - one of the first things out of your mouth should be "I have a carry permit and my laoded gun is in the car" - & then tell him where. Wait for them to then tell you what do do. That way if he already knows you have a permit, you aren't hiding the fact of being armed in what is already (at least for them) a potentially tense situation.
posted by Pressed Rat at 4:04 PM on April 22, 2010


At one time I was a police scanner enthusiast, and listened to many hundreds of hours of police radio. When someone has a concealed carry permit, and an officer is dispatched to their home, the officer is notified at the time of dispatch.
posted by fake at 4:12 PM on April 22, 2010


my understanding is that the FBI already has the prints of resident aliens

The alien firearms license laws changed in 2009. One of the changes is that permanent resident aliens are no longer required to obtain an AFL, only non-resident aliens. If the subject of your question has a green card (is a resident alien), they don't need an AFL. The new ALF also only applies to Washington state residents, so non-immigrant aliens residing in other states don't need an ALF, either.

The WA Department of Licensing has a web page just for the new AFL, you might look there. They have an FAQ that explains who needs an AFL, along with the application procedures.
posted by doorsnake at 5:14 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


According to this web page and this web page, you would need to apply for one license or the other (CCR if you are a citizen or Permanent Resident or alien firearms permit if you a non resident alien or have a conditional residency). Once you've came through immigration they have your prints and life history anyway so this doesn't seem like a deal breaker for getting the permit. Note that if you are not a citizen and commit a felony (something quite possible if you misuse your firearm) you could be deported and barred from reentry into the country...
posted by MsKim at 5:26 PM on April 22, 2010


you would need to apply for one license or the other (CCR if you are a citizen or Permanent Resident or alien firearms permit if you a non resident alien or have a conditional residency).

These two licenses are not either/or; they serve entirely different purposes.

The Alien Firearms License is a license for non-immigrant aliens residing in Washington state to simply possess firearms. This means that they are not permitted to so much as touch a firearm without an AFL.

US citizens or permanent residents do not require a license to merely possess firearms in Washington state.

There are special rules for non-immigrant and non-resident aliens from a "country contiguous with Washington state, for example, Canada." Basically, they have to be engaged in hunting or shooting competition, and are not eligible for an AFL.

The "CCR" (in WA Dept. of License-speak, a Concealed Pistol License, CPL) allows the licensee to carry a firearm concealed on their person, in public (subject to various restrictions I won't go into here). A non-immigrant alien residing within Washington state must first have an AFL prior to applying for a CPL.
posted by doorsnake at 5:53 PM on April 22, 2010


Ah. I looked up DHS clarification on residence, and the relevant status here is "temporary resident", AKA nonimmigrant. So the new AFL is needed. :-/

MsKim - The web pages appear to be in conflict:

From the AFL FAQ page:
Can I apply for a concealed pistol license if I have an alien firearms license?
Yes.


From the CPL requirements:
You must meet all of the following requirements to get a concealed pistol license:
* Be a United States citizen or a permanent resident alien with permanent resident card or “green card.”


Further, the AFL is not described in the FAQ as granting the permissions of the CPL ("This license allows you to use a firearm for hunting and sport shooting", no mention of carrying or transporting a pistols), so my suspicion is that both will be needed to be equivalent to a regular person with a CPL. I'll ask for a clarification.
posted by anonymisc at 5:59 PM on April 22, 2010


(another non-resident in WA)

If you are not a permanent resident, you DO need a hunting license. For a non-resident alien to possess a firearm is a Federal crime (Felony, I believe), unless they have a valid hunting permit. That's why it's listed as a requirement for the AFL, and that is probably why they say "This license allows you to use a firearm for hunting and sport shooting". One thing is: You need to be very diligent about renewing your hunting license. If for some reason your hunting license ever expires, you'll need to immediately get rid of the gun, the hunting license is a requirement for possessing it at all, not acquiring it.

The thing is, the federal law doesn't go into specifics of the hunting permit exception, or about "hunting purposes", it only mentions en passant that aliens with hunting permits are an exception. I believe the text on the WA site tries to mirror that ambiguity by not using exclusive language.

Concealed carry is, as far as I know, a state thing. Looking at the actual laws:

From 9.41.070 (the one about concealed permits):
The license shall contain a description of the major differences between state and federal law and an explanation of the fact that local laws and ordinances on firearms are preempted by state law and must be consistent with state law. The application shall contain questions about the applicant's eligibility under RCW 9.41.040 to possess a pistol, the applicant's place of birth, and whether the applicant is a United States citizen. The applicant shall not be required to produce a birth certificate or other evidence of citizenship. A person who is not a citizen of the United States shall, if applicable, meet the additional requirements of RCW 9.41.173 and produce proof of compliance with RCW 9.41.173 upon application. The license may be in triplicate or in a form to be prescribed by the department of licensing.

You can see it doesn't say anything about green card or permanent resident status, or restrict it to citizens. It also explicitly lists 9.41.173 compliance. 9.41.173 also doesn't say anything about concealed permit. Both give grave warnings about federal law superseding state law.

Of course, I am not a lawyer, but from the law texts, it seems like the AFL text is the more up-to-date.
posted by qvantamon at 7:06 PM on April 22, 2010


Found the text of the Federal law (18 U.S.C. 922).

(2) Exceptions. - Subsections (d)(5)(B), (g)(5)(B), and
(s)(3)(B)(v)(II) do not apply to any alien who has been lawfully
admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa, if that
alien is -
(A) admitted to the United States for lawful hunting or
sporting purposes or is in possession of a hunting license or
permit lawfully issued in the United States;


I believe (again, IANAL) the "or" over there makes it so that if you do have a license/permit, you don't need to have hunting/sporting purposes.
posted by qvantamon at 7:14 PM on April 22, 2010


I'm not sure about in your state, but in Kentucky... When I took my CCDW class the instructor told us that a police officer can run the plates of your car (providing it is in your name) and it will show up on the database that you are a CCDW permit holder.

In my experience, this generally relaxes a police officer a bit. I have been told that they figure if you went through all the effort to legalize carrying a weapon then you are not likely to be a danger to them.
posted by sporaticgenius at 8:23 PM on April 22, 2010


So,
Step 1, a hunting license, which lasts 1 year, allows application for:
Step 2, an alien firearms license, which lasts 2 years, and allows application for:
Step 3, a concealed pistol license, which lasts 5 years.

So once the CPL is granted, it seems that you could let the AFL expire and lapse, and not ever need another one? (from the CPL FAQ, it sounds like timely renewel of the CPL avoids the need to reapply for it, which would thus avoid the need for a AFL?)

However due to federal law, you always need a valid hunting permit, no-matter what.

Thanks for drilling down on this stuff. (Wow, this system is so stupid)
posted by anonymisc at 8:31 PM on April 22, 2010


No.

It is a class C felony for any person who is not a citizen of the United States to carry or possess any firearm, unless the person: (1) Is a lawful permanent resident; (2) has obtained a valid alien firearm license pursuant to RCW 9.41.173; or (3) meets the requirements of RCW 9.41.175.

The CPL and AFL are different things, entirely. The AFL (and Federal law) are for possessing a firearm at all. The CPL is for being able to carry a gun concealed, or loaded inside a car, presuming you already have the right to possess one.

So, you can't let either the AFL or the hunting license expire, otherwise you're commiting a class C felony, or a federal crime, respectively.

You can, on the other hand, let the CPL expire - it is only required for carrying concealed firearms (a loaded gun in a car counts as concealed). You can presumably open-carry a gun (that is, carry it clearly visible) without a CPL, although, in practice, good luck with that (there are statutes for flashing a gun, or disturbing the peace, etc, etc... that are sure to be thrown in your face if you try). But if you're only going to leave the gun at home, I believe (IANAL, yadda yadda) you don't need the concealed carry permit.
posted by qvantamon at 8:53 PM on April 22, 2010


I had a CCW when I lived in WA, my brother has one, a billion of my friends there have them, and I can't recall a single instance in which it resulted in weird treatment by the police anywhere in the state.

I recommend taking Insights Training Center's Basic Handgun Safety & Responsibility class. They cover WA law, both what it says on paper and how it's applied in practice, and their instructors are very experienced and knowledgeable with stories and teaching skills. They can probably answer all your questions.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:53 PM on April 22, 2010


So, you can't let either the AFL or the hunting license expire, otherwise you're commiting a class C felony, or a federal crime, respectively.

Note that the WA AFL statute says "for purposes of hunting and sport shooting." For the application, it says, in part, (4) The license application shall bear the full name, residential address, [...] and a valid Washington hunting license or documentation that the applicant is a member of a sport shooting club. So, membership at a firing range or some competitive shooting organization would presumably satisfy this criteria as well.

My reading of 18 USC 922 (y)(2) (the exceptions for non-immigrant aliens): (A) admitted to the United States for lawful hunting or sporting purposes or is in possession of a hunting license or permit lawfully issued in the United States; would be that you're ok as long as you've got one of the four things listed (admitted for hunting, admitted for sporting purposes, hunting license, or permit). I've not researched the case law on this, though.

One range that I am familiar with has contacted the DoL, and has a special "competition" for shooters from Canada; as I understand it, this is sufficient to satisfy the language of the law. Note, though, that Canadians fall under the "contiguous foreign country" exception, so they're special; if the poster isn't Canadian, this doesn't help.

You can presumably open-carry a gun (that is, carry it clearly visible) without a CPL, although, in practice, good luck with that (there are statutes for flashing a gun, or disturbing the peace, etc, etc... that are sure to be thrown in your face if you try).

Well, yes and no. The statute in question is RCW 9.41.270. It states, in part, that [it is unlawful to display a weapon] "in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons." To the best of my knowledge, the courts in Washington have interpreted this as meaning that mere display of a firearm does not constitute a violation. Even if it makes somebody nervous, for a violation to occur, the display must either manifest an intent to intimidate or warrant alarm for the safety of others, and that alarm must be reasonable.

The opencarry.org group has staged a number of events in which they show up and open carry somewhere; to the best of my knowledge, none of them have ever been cited, and quite a few law enforcement agencies have issued training bulletins to their officers related to open carry.

Also, it is unlawful to have a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle without a Concealed Pistol License, so getting around town while open carrying without a CPL is somewhat problematic. And, of course, private property owners are free to demand that you leave or face a criminal trespassing citation, so good luck at the mall. Still, it's nice for going hiking out in the woods, and it's comforting to know that an accidental display of a firearm is not automatically a brandishing violation.

And, lastly, convoluted as the Alien Firearms License system appears, this is a huge improvement over the old AFL process, which (among other things) applied to all non-US citizens, and required the applicant to obtain a criminal background check from their home country (there was an exemption process if the country did not respond, but it was time consuming). On the other hand, no other state that I'm aware of has a special license just for non-US citizens, so it's still more of a pain than other states.

And, lastly, I'd generally agree with Jacqueline that taking a class to get some more structured education regarding firearms is rarely a bad idea (although, full disclosure: I teach such classes, so I have some amount of vested interest). Be wary, though: if the subject of this question takes the class without having an AFL, it could be a violation of the law for them to handle any firearms, as the law does not have any exceptions for training.
posted by doorsnake at 11:50 PM on April 22, 2010


Not in WA:

But I don't think there are many big-brothery things that are going to go down around you just for having these licenses and permits.

But I second "Pressed Rat" in saying that what you want to do is make sure that any officer near you has knowledge of this information in as non-threatening a way as possible, as quickly as possible.

Police officers run in to all sorts of dangers all the time (and often don't get credit for the risks they take and can be crucified for the mistakes they make). When I find myself in any situation with them I try my hardest to make sure they understand that I am not a threat.
posted by milqman at 12:00 AM on April 23, 2010


My friends with TN carry permits said that their permit classes instructed them to, when pulled over, put both hands on the steering wheel and keep them there until the officer arrived at the window. In Tennessee the officers will frequently run your plate before approaching the car and I can assure you they would love to be able to see both your hands on the way up to you.

Past that the rest of the conversation goes as expected: "Hello, officer, I [do / do not] have a loaded firearm in the vehicle in x location" and so forth. Even explaining "I'm going to get my wallet" (implying "I am getting my wallet NOT reaching for a gun") is helpful.
posted by komara at 12:15 PM on April 23, 2010


A ton of useful info came up in this thread. Thank you!
posted by anonymisc at 4:58 PM on April 23, 2010


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