Federal Firearms Licensing: An Outline


This outline is intended to provide a swift description of the federal system and emphasize features of the legal document on the way: the Federal Firearms License.

Federal Firearms License

The Federal Firearms License (FFL) lets people take part in business linked to the production of weapons or ammuni­tion or the national sale of weapons. Possessing an FFL to carry out these deeds has been a lawful requirement in the United States of America since 1968, with the passing of the Gun Con­trol Act. Before the 1968 Gun Control Act, the Federal Firearms Act of 1938 needed suppliers and producers of weapons or ammunition engaged in purchasing or supply­ing weapons or ammunition as a part of foreign or interstate trade to have a permit. Accordingly, the federal sys­tem created in 1938, however, our present system has been in place since 1968. It’s managed by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explo­sives (ATF), which is in the U.S. Department of Justice.
There are 8 different kinds of Federal Firearms Licenses, although their actual number range from 1–11. All categories permit individuals to engage in a variety of ammunition and weapons-relat­ed selling and producing actions and manage a variety of explicit items. For instance, a Type 1 FFL is for gunsmiths or gun dealers “not engaged in devastating devices.” The federal gov­ernment has assembled specific items, like weapons that need explosives, including artillery equip­ment and cannons, and also armor-piercing bullets into a category needing specific types of FFLs—Types 9–11 to be precise. The categories in between are for relic and curio dealers, pawnbrokers, and importers, dealers, and manufactur­ers.

The Application

For the FFL, the application is big. There are 3 forms that should be filled— a Fingerprint Card, a Certifi­cate of Compliance, and the Application for Federal Firearms License.
Fingerprint Card and Certifi­cate of Compliance are short­er, but still multifarious. The Certificate of Compliance is only one page, and requests applicants to confirm U.S. citizenship sta­tus, and declare that their application is correct to the best of their information. The Fingerprint Card is only 2 pages and was created by the FBI. It requests for fingerprints of all 10 fingers, along with the place of birth, race, sex, eye and hair color, weight, and height.
The Application for Federal Fire­arms License is eighteen pages but is divided into four distinct copies, includ­ing one to be preserved by the applicant. (The ATF does inform local and state law authorities of FFL applicants in their area via the application document.), one for the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) in your area, and 2 for the ATF. All 4 copies should be filled by the applicant. The forms request for contact info, company details, replies to a range of questions, and signatures to confirm specific information. Each form also asks applicants to affix a headshot photo (2″ x 2″). If an applicant is requesting a license for a company, the application should list all partners, co-owners, owners, and other “responsible individuals” concerned with the company.
After the application is presented and taken by the ATF, the ATF is required under the Gun Control Act of 1968 to work upon it within 60 days. Officers at the ATF’s Federal Firearms Licensing Center (FFLC), in Martins­burg, West Virginia, will check all 3 documents counted in the application, and carry out electronic background tests on all of the persons mentioned in the main application. The written application might be followed by a telephone call from an ATF representative to the applicant. In all instances, the written application is dispatched to the applicant’s nearest ATF office, and a personal interview is arranged by an Industry Operations Investigator (IOI).
The IOI will talk about all state and federal licensing necessities with the applicant. After the interview, the IOI will make a report proposing the ATF release a license or refuse the application. In case the application is accepted, the FFLC will finish handling of the application and deliver the applicant a license. All of this takes place within 60 days of the ATF’s acceptance of the original application.
Applicants for FFLs should be more than 21 years of age and otherwise not barred from handling or owning firearms or ammunition. Application fees vary from $30 to $3,000, based on the kind of license hunted, and all licenses are legal for 3 years. The Brady Handgun Violence Preven­tion Law of 1993 actually modified the licensing system in that it increased appli­cation fees and prolonged the license duration. For instance, the Brady law increased the cost of a dealer license from $10 a year to $200 for every 3 years.
Everybody who has an FFL should also follow all weapons licensing rules in their local states. Additionally, all FFL holders should keep accurate stock as well as sales data, including using ATF-accepted stock software. Owners must maintain records for a minimum period of 20 years from the date of creation. If a licensed dealer or manufacturer closes shop or goes out of business, their documentations should be sent to the ATF’s Out-of-Business Records Center for storing. Lastly, licensed owners might be questioned to provide business documents to law enforcement officers as demanded examinations.

The License

The FFL is only one page, frequently water lined with the ATF authorized seal. The most conspicuous bits of information on the page contain the type of license, expi­ration date, and license number. Less conspicuous are other parts of the document, including ATF contact informa­tion and licensee contact information. There are also details regarding what the license, depending on the type, lets the licensee do. Lastly, the license is endorsed by the licensee.

Licenses, Applications, and the Freedom of Information Law

Since these licenses are national papers, their applications could be openly requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). For doing this, the petitioner makes an FOIA Request. That is just a written request in which the petitioner explains the information sought, and the format she or he wants it in, in as much detail as probable. Moreover, the ATF preserves a state-by-state list on its Website of all FFL owners. On August 2013, there were 138,186 FFL owners in all states. In the state-by-state lists, one can view license owners, communication info, as well as what sort of fed­eral license they have.

Global Business

The federal system delineated here usually relates to national business and traders and producers of weapons and ammunition. Global affairs of the same type are administered by the International Traffic in Arms Regula­tion (ITAR). These laws are governed by the U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls. Anybody desiring to follow global business should first get an FFL, after that present a separate request to the Directorate, and pay a further application fee ($2,250 in 2013).

Gun Control Law of 1968

The Gun Control Law of 1968 (GCA) was approved by Congress after the murders of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. By this time it was identified that the firearm used to murder President Kennedy had been a redundant Italian military firearm imported into the United States. As a consequence, among the objectives of the GCA was to control the import of weapons and ammunition into the United States, besides controlling national sale as well as distribution.
The GCA, as revised throughout the years, remains to be the main channel for the federal control of weapons. The GCA’s declared objectives are to “keep weapons out of the reach of people not lawfully allowed to own them due to age, criminal history or inability, and to help law enforcement organizations in the states as well as their divisions in fighting the rising occurrence of criminality in the United States.”