Being in Maine with plenty of Canadian tourists in my area, and now operating my retail store selling ammunition, it occurred to me to want to clarify the legal status of selling ammunition to Canadians, or any non-resident alien in the U.S. (outside of odd occurrences like SLICS where they have permits & such). The long & short of it is: Yes, contrary to almost everyone telling me that Canadians can not purchase ammo at the retail level in the U.S., they actually can, in any state except the FOID card requirement states like Illinois and Mass…
I had thought this to be the case ever since I found buried in the ATF’s Firearms Regulations Reference Guide from 2014, on page 196, paragraph 5, section A7, that: “an alien admitted to the United States under a non-immigrant visa” is not legally eligible to receive or possess firearms and/or ammunition. In researching the specifics of non-immigrant visas I found on the website for the U.S Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs, it clearly states that Canadian & Bermudian citizens do not require a non-immigrant visa most all of the time, including simple tourism. There are some odd situations described, but none of them amount to what almost all Canadians (of stays less than 90 days) are in the U.S. for who might be purchasing ammunition, which is simple tourism. Any Canadian (or any non-resident alien from anywhere) who does have a non-immigrant visa while in the U.S. cannot purchase or possess ammunition (except the odd ATF permit situations like SLICS, shooting competitions, etc.). It is a little odd that only Canadians & Bermudians enjoy this status, but I checked extensively, and they are the only citizens who enjoy this simple instantaneous disqualification from needing to be under the guise of a non-immigrant visa status when their passports are processed here. Every other country’s citizens are, apparently “non-immigrant aliens” when entering the U.S., but they might still enjoy having their non-immigrant alien status waived for various oddball reasons such as being refugees, or who knows what else.
Therefore, since most all Canadians in the U.S. for tourism do not have a non-immigrant visa, they are not subject to the G.C.A. restriction regarding holders of a non-immigrant visa being able to purchase ammunition, because they do not hold such a visa. Whether or not such Canadians are able to return to Canada with any such purchased ammunition is entirely up to Canadian law, and the Canadian border / customs agents.
In talking with various dealers locally, online, and even in calling the ATF field office in Portland, Maine - they ALL disagreed with me, and seemed to think that any non-resident alien, regardless of visa status was prohibited from buying ammunition, to say nothing of firearms. The agent in Portland sort of chuckled it off and gruffly proclaimed that no non-citizen could buy guns or ammo, etc. etc… but I could tell he didn’t really know what I was talking about.
Finally, I found on the ATF’s own .gov website one of their many opinion letters, this one issued in 2012, and which directly addressed the issue of non-immigrant visas. https://www.atf.gov/file/61841/download clearly states that:
“A non-immigrant alien who is lawfully admitted to the United States without a visa (e.g. Visa Waiver Program), may acquire or possess a firearm in the United States, provided that he or she is not prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing firearms or ammunition in the U.S.”
So, since virtually all Canadians are in the U.S. without a non-immigrant visa because they do not need one, they can purchase ammunition. They can even purchase firearms as long as they have some sort of state residency proof, since the FFL would need to know that, but for ammo there is no such background check or requirements other than IL, MA, and now CA I guess.
Thoughts? Experiences? Since I am not an FFL I worry less about ATF rattling my cage about this whole thing since I have no license to suspend or rescind, and since I now have all of this in print, ready to show to anyone who asks.