Earlier this year, the ATF adopted it’s “new rules” regarding the definition of firearms, frames, and receivers. Then, in July, the US Congress passed the “Safer Communities Act“, which enacted several new laws that affect both FFL firearms dealers and our customers. Finally, very recently, the ATF has begun increasing the intensity of its enforcement of the rules and regulations by which FFLs like SharpShooters must abide. Here, I’m offering some background on what’s changing, and what I hope will be a somewhat plain English explanation of the practical meanings of these new rules and laws.
FFL Dealers Feeling the Heat
Our FFL attorneys have informed us that the ATF has increased revocations of FFLs, meaning these gun stores are losing their licenses, by 500% over previous years. We recently attended an ATF seminar to learn about this issue and the new ATF rules. What we learned is that the ATF has not changed any of the rules we (FFLs) live by; however, “the ATF is being more strict in their enforcement of those criteria.” (their words) Below are the top violations that will result in the revocation of a dealer’s Federal Firearms License. The first 5 are strictly related to the Form 4473.
- No 4473 – The (soon to be former) FFL did not require a 4473 to sell an individual a firearm.
- Incorrect 4473 – Mistakes happen, and it’s our job as an FFL to make sure they get corrected.
- Unsigned 4473 – One of the mistakes is not getting you to sign the final 4473.
- No firearm info on 4473 – The gun or guns you’re buying have to be specifically listed on the form.
- No ID type on 4473 – We have to note the type of ID that you presented at purchase.
- Lack of response to trace requests – When a gun is used in a crime, the authorities will begin a “trace request” to trace the origin of the firearm. We have to respond within 24 hours.
What all this means is that we may take a little more time, be a little more careful, get a 3rd or 4th pair of eyes on your 4473. And we’ll likely thank you for your patience while we make all attempts to abide by the ATF’s regulations. Thank you in advance.
FBI NICS Background Checks
At this ATF seminar, one of the presenters was a career FBI Agent whose primary responsibility is the NICS Background Check System. NICS stands for National Instant Criminal Background Check System. When you purchase a firearm, we do a NICS background check on you. Every FFL must do a NICS check on every customer, unless the state they operate in allows for a Weapons Carry License or Concealed Carry Permit to substitute for the NICS check.
However, it is the FFL’s choice as to whether or not we conduct a NICS check or not, even if you present a valid permit.
- What goes into NICS checks?
- III – Interstate Identification Index – A data base of anyone criminally fingerprinted
- NCIC Indices – all disqualifying criteria, such as felonies, medical marijuana, etc.
- ICE – Immigration status
On September 26, 2022, the “NICS Denial Act” goes into effect. The FBI must report all NICS denials to local law enforcement, both of the state of purchase and residence. Originally, this law was such that the FFL (that’s us) had to report all denials to local law enforcement, and then local law enforcement had to conduct an investigation into the individual who received the denial, even though no crime was committed. Thank God that didn’t make it into the final legislation!
What’s this mean? It means that now local law enforcement will have a record of any individual who is denied by NICS. I don’t see this coming up often, but when it does, it’ll likely be around a crime investigation, and the police can say, “He tried to purchase a firearm on such-and-such date, but was denied.“
Private Firearms Transfers
This NICS system is at the heart of the debate over so-called “universal background checks“. The media has done a fantastic job spreading disinformation about a couple of topics on this issue. The first is the “gun show loophole”, which is a total misnomer. What people are referring to by the “gun show loophole” is when an FFL dealer goes to a gun show, and sells a firearm “from his car trunk” without running a NICS check. No FFL would ever do that, because they’d risk losing their license. It simply doesn’t happen.
Now, what does happen, because it’s legal in most states, is a private firearm sale. That means you can sell your firearm to anyone who wants to buy it privately. You can bring it to an FFL like SharpShooters and institute an FFL Transfer, but it’ll cost you a fee on both sides of the transaction. Again, it’s perfectly legal. But here’s where the rub is: if you sell your gun to someone, and they use it commit a crime, you could be criminally liable. So, while it’s perfectly legal, we don’t recommend selling your guns to someone you don’t know.
Summary: New “Gun Control” and ATF Rules
- Safer Communities Act – Read our analysis here
- Boyfriend loophole – if someone says “she was my girlfriend” then that carries the same weight as a spouse for red flag purposes relating to domestic abuse
- 18-20 year old individuals will automatically be delayed every time.
- ATF Rules & Definitions
- Definition of Firearm, Frame, or Receiver: “firearm, frame, receiver, or other parts that are readily convertible into a firearm, frame, or receiver.”
- Privately Manufactured Firearm (PMF) – Sometimes referred to by the government as a “ghost gun”, a PMF is not illegal to make; however, if it gets transferred to or via an FFL, that FFL must serialize the PMF. The ATF’s stated purpose here is “traceability”. That’s also where the term “ghost gun” comes from. The ATF states that one could create (3D Print) a PMF and walk it through an airport security check, and the firearm would “ghost” its way through security. Not sure how accurate that is, but that’s where the term comes from anyway.