Handgun Nets Illegal Immigrant Nearly Five Years in Prison

"Alien in possession of a firearm" sounds a tad like science-fiction poetry, but it's also the title of a federal statute - and one that's putting a Mexican national behind bars for about five years.

While gun ownership is an Arizonan's birthright, (the state constitution goes well beyond the Second Amendment), illegal immigrants aren't supposed to be in on the fun. Of course, it's a no-brainer that plenty of illegal immigrants own firearms in this state for both protection and recreation. But sometimes the government has to make an example of one of them.

In this case, it's Christian Rene Bueno-Figueroa, 24, of Sinaloa, Mexico, who was found holding a .38 Super handgun last year during the raid of a drug house. When cops entered the home, looking for someone else, they found more guns, scales, a ledger, meth, and 75 grams of cocaine in a car. Another man was busted for "possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime," and later sentenced to 60 months, says the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix. But Bueno-Figueroa was arrested for possessing a firearm, period. He was sentenced this week to 57 months.

That's a lot of time for doing something that comes naturally to most state residents.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.