Press Releases

Feinstein: Prevent Foreign Felons From Obtaining Firearms

“Cannot continue to give foreign-convicted murderers, rapists and terrorists the right to buy firearms in the United States”

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced legislation to close a loophole in current law to ensure that individuals convicted of foreign felonies and crimes—including domestic violence—cannot possess firearms in the United States.

Under current federal law, people who are convicted in the United States of violent felonies like rape, murder and terrorism are prohibited from possessing firearms.  However, the law does not currently prohibit criminals convicted of these same violent crimes in foreign courts from possessing guns.

“America cannot continue to give foreign-convicted murderers, rapists and even terrorists the right to buy firearms in the United States,” said Senator Feinstein.  “It makes no sense to have a law that forbids convicted Americans from possessing a firearm, but leaves the door wide open for foreign convicts to possess a firearm in our country.  We must close this loophole before it is exploited by terrorists, drug gangs, and other dangerous criminals who threaten our communities.”

The No Firearms for Foreign Felons Act of 2011 would make it clear that if someone was convicted in a foreign court of an offense that would have disqualified them from possessing a gun in the United States, then they will be similarly disqualified from gun possession under American law.

This loophole for foreign convicts is the result of a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Small v. United States.  In that case, the Court analyzed the 1968 Gun Control Act, which states that anyone who has been convicted of a felony “in any court” cannot possess firearms. The Court concluded the phrase only applied to American courts, despite the fact the Gun Control Act had routinely been applied to foreign felonies since 1968, the year it took effect.