DENVER - Illegal immigrants can be prohibited from possessing firearms under laws passed by Congress that bar certain groups from gun ownership, a federal appeals court has ruled.

A three-judge panel in Denver agreed with a prison sentence imposed by a Wyoming federal judge on a Mexican national who pleaded guilty to illegal weapons possession.

In the opinion made public on Monday, the judges said even non-citizens in the United States on visas for legitimate reasons face restrictions on firearms possession.

"Even those admitted on non-immigrant visas... are prohibited from having firearms and ammunition unless they secure a special waiver or happen to be hunters or diplomatic or law-enforcement officials here on business," the judges wrote.

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