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The University of Arizona has come under the spotlight recently, after recent months have seen an increase in the number of times weapons have been seized from students. Perhaps the most notable recent incidents have been those involving Chinese students.
In recent months, federal officials have seized weapons from 8 Chinese students, who obtained these firearms using fraudulent hunting licenses. Whether the students were using AR-15s or not we aren’t sure.
Officials have stressed that there was absolutely no malicious intent on the part of the students, who in some cases were merely curious about the gun culture of the US. Nevertheless, the seizures have highlighted what some find to be a troubling loophole in gun regulation in federal and state level laws – international students and other non-immigration visa holders are exempt from some prohibitions on gun ownership.
Several of the students have told the press that they were simply curious as to what it felt like to own and fire their own gun. In China, guns are not only expensive, but pretty rigorously controlled. This means that the students’ brief time in the USA could be the only time in their lives they are able to purchase a firearm, and it seems some are keen to take advantage of this fact.
One student, Yifei Gong, offers an example of how the students were able to obtain guns. Following advice that he found online, he went to Walmart and purchased a resident hunting license. Using this license, he was then able to visit a gun store and buy a semi-auto RAS47, a US made Kalashnikov replica.
Gong has told the press that he purchased the weapon primarily for “fun”, and took it out to several shooting ranges. However, anomalies were subsequently noticed in his license application by federal authorities, and they visited his apartment in Tucson to examine and ultimately seize it.
Gong was charged with a Class 2 misdemeanour for frauduently obtaining the license, and paid a fine. He faces not further legal action.
His case is not an isolated one. Officials in the state say that people like to go out into the desert and shoot guns for fun, and that the route that Gong took to obtain his weapon is a common one for US citizens and students alike.
The case also highlights a potential loophole in the law regarding hunting licenses. Whilst foreign students should be prohibited from buying firearms, hunting licenses merely require that a person be resident in the state for 6 months. With the license, anyone can then obtain a gun from a gun store.
Here at GND, we welcome the curiousity of anyone interested in funding out more about the noble tradition of gun ownership in the US, and so find it hard to hold their actions against these students. That said, the case also illustrates the mess that currently constitutes federal and state level gun laws, and so remain unsurprised that yet another loop hole has to light in this manner.