Can foreign tourists legally purchase and use firearms in the USA?

A very interesting thread over at rec.guns.

The best answer to the question is by Mark Crispin

# Is there a legal way for me to buy guns for self-defense and/or
# recreational plinking?

The US government has a long series of FAQs on this question here:

Short answer: probably no.

Longer answer:

Non-immigrant aliens (which includes tourists) in the USA are generally
prohibited from possessing firearms.
With the proper US export paperwork and home country import paperwork, you
may purchase firearms in the USA. However, the firearms must be shipped
by the seller to your home country; you can not accept delivery of your
firearms in the USA.

There are certain exceptions to this prohibition. The easiest way for a
non-immigrant alien to legally possess firearms in the USA is to obtain a
hunting license from any state. This license must not be allowed to
expire, as it effectively serves as your alien firearms possession

There are also state requirements. For example, Washington State has no
licensing requirement for citizens to possess firearms, but does require
aliens to obtain a Washington State alien firearm license. Only two
states (Alaska and Vermont) permit carrying a concealed pistol without a

Even after you obtain a state hunting license, you won’t be able to
purchase and take possession of a firearm in the USA due to the transient
nature of your vis
it. The ATF web page above has detail about the
However, with your hunting license, you can borrow someone’s firearms for
plinking, hunting, etc. You probably will not be able to get a license
to carry a concealed handgun.

I’m sorry that we’re so unfriendly to visits these days. Blame cretins
who decided to take out their rage against the world by coming to the USA
and killing Americans.

One of the most notorious of these incidents happened on the Long Island
Rail Road in New York State in 1993. A Jamaican lunatic named Colin
Fergunson killed six people and wounded nineteen others, claiming that it
was justified by “Black rage” against his White and Asian victims. In the
aftermath we gained one of the most anti-gun members of Congress.

Read the whole discussion here.


Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • DoubleTapper
    • Jac Egholm

      You can do that in just about any country with some degree of liberal gunlaw, but what I and probably all the others mean is, is there a way to take it along on your visit. I own a lot of guns, have been in special forces, worked as a private security contractor and taught tactical firearm classes for military and security contractors. I am planning a trip across the southwest of US, and would like if it was possible for me to carry a gun on a trip like that, to be able to protect myself and those around me, if the need should arise.

      • Phil White


        Hey Jac it’s an old post. DT is already back in Israel. He took some great pics across our country as well.

  • Mike R.

    I have been told that in Florida there is a loophole that allows foreign purchase of firearms if the buyer is made a member of a sanctioned gun club. Any truth to this?

    Also, in a maritime follow-up, let’s say a foreign charter passenger yacht is set to depart the U.S. in two days, and it security force protection firearms are stolen. Is there any way for the captain or owner to legally obtain replacement firearms in a timely manner without having to apply for a DSP 5 form, which is costly and slow?


  • Frank D.

    Thanks for the information. I would like to know whether it is possible to buy firearms only to bring them home on the way back to the country of origin, not to carry them in the US. Would that change anything, i.e. would it be legal to buy a firearm and have it delivered to the airport on the day of leaving or anything? I am asking because shipping the gun to your homecountry would result in taxes and duty, where as bringing it home on the same flight with yourself would not (in case of Germany that is).

    I would like to buy a Baby Eagle pistol in the states as they are much more expensive and a little hard to get here.

  • http://googlesearch james tinalli

    dear sir, hi! my name is james & i am an australian citizen, living in australia. i am a collector of world war 2 japanese arisaka rifles. these particular rifles seem to be in limited supply here. is it possible to travel to the united states from australia just to purchase the rifles from a gun shop that sell these rifles, would i be allowed to make the purchase in the united states?, then leave the states again directley back to australia, taking the rifles with me home. on arrival here i would have to declare then to australian customs for inspection & the appropriate duties/taxes would have to be paid by myself according to the value of the rifles. can you advise me of what is required by united states regulation. i do have a gun licence issued to me by the state that i reside in & i am a member of a gun/shooters club here as well. hope you may find the time to get back to me, regards james.

    • Steve

      james, you would not be able to purchase guns in the US.

  • Alain


    What if I bring my own weapon from Europe? I have a european hunting license and rifles (remington 300 win mag and marlin 45-70). I would be visiting the states for 8 months with my own car. I will be traveling across
    the country and my car has an integrated rifle safe … I would only need
    the rifles in Alaska and Canada. There should be a solution to this problem.
    (travel starts in Florida, through California to Montana, Canada alaska and would end in New York)