30 Most Cited ATF Inspection Violations

Written by Orchid

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June 20, 2022

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White text atop red background next to image of ATF seal over list of inspection violations

Between 2016–2020, ATF industry operations investigators (IOIs) conducted 48,445 compliance inspections of federal firearms licensees (FFLs), citing over 67.6 million violations. That’s according to the National Firearms in Commerce and Trafficking Assessment (NFCTA), a new joint report by the Bureau and subject matter experts studying the last two decades of the firearms industry.

Within the 300-page document, the report provides lists of every compliance inspection violation cited during that five-year period. One lists every instance of every violation from every inspection. The other excludes violations from ‘skewed’ inspections, or inspections in which over 50,000 violations were cited. This decreases total inspection violations by 97% to just 2.4 million. However, while it would be easy to write off such skewed inspections as situations where one violation was made in mass, their inclusion presents a more accurate picture of inspection violations.

Examining this first list, a total of 218 different violations were cited, with violations ranging from a single citation to nearly 15 million. The top three most-cited violations alone combined for 53% of all violations, or 35.8 million. But rather than focus on every violation, we’ll only look at those with 10,000 or more instances, reducing the list to just 30 violations.

Evaluating these inspection violations, each either corresponds to a specific FFL type – dealer, manufacturer or importer – or can be attributed to all firearms businesses. Below is a breakdown of violations by FFL type and a list of the top 30 most cited compliance inspection violations.

Violations by FFL Type

All FFLs
Regardless of FFL type, all FFLs are responsible for maintaining firearm records, following instructions on ATF forms and obtaining the proper licensing to operate.

  • Failure to maintain timely, accurate and complete disposition record | 27 CFR 478.123(b)
  • Knowingly making false entries in the acquisition and disposition record | 27 CFR 478.121(c)
  • Failure to provide all information as required in form headings or instructions | 27 CFR 478.21(a)
  • Failure to obtain required license to engage in the business as a dealer, manufacturer or importer of firearms | 27 CFR 478.41(b)

Dealers
Considering Type 01 (dealer in firearms), 02 (pawnbroker in firearms) and 09 (dealer in destructive devices) FFLs make up roughly 45% of all firearms businesses, it’s no surprise 10 of the top 30 violations are relating to dealers. Of the 10 inspection violations, seven are related to the completion or storage of ATF Forms 4473.

  • Failure by dealer to properly maintain a record of the receipt and disposition of firearms | 27 CFR 478.125(e)
  • Failure to obtain complete purchaser information on Form 4473 | 27 CFR 478.124(c)(1)
  • Failure to record required NICS information on Form 4473, including date NICS was contacted and response was received | 27 CFR 478.124(c)(3)(iv)
  • Failure of licensee to sign and/or date (certify) Form 4473 | 27 CFR 478.124(c)(5)
  • Failure to verify or record purchaser’s ID documents on Form 4473 | 27 CFR 478.124(c)(3)(i)
  • Failure to properly identify firearms transferred on Form 4473 | 27 CFR 478.124(c)(4)
  • Failure to report multiple handgun sales on Form 3310.4 | 27 CFR 478.126a
  • Failure to maintain Forms 4473 in required order | 27 CFR 478.124(b)
  • Failure to complete NICS/POC background check prior to transferring firearm | 27 CFR 478.102(a)
  • Failure to record the transfer of a firearm on a Form 4473 | 27 CFR 478.124(a)

View top 10 inspection violations by Type 01 & 02 FFLs

Manufacturers
While Type 06 (manufacturer of ammunition), 07 (manufacturer of firearms) and 10 (manufacturer of destructive devices) FFLs make up less than 15% of all licensees, they are responsible for nearly half of the top 30 inspection violations. Ten of the 14 associated violations are related to marking and serializing firearms, while the other four violations are failures to maintain or file necessary records.

  • Failure to timely record firearms manufactured/acquired in A&D record | 27 CFR 478.123(a)
  • Failure to properly mark firearms with manufacturer city and state in which the firearm was manufactured | 27 CFR 478.92(a)(1)(ii)(D)
  • Failure to properly mark firearms with a serial number | 27 CFR 478.92(a)(1)(i)
  • Failure to properly mark firearms with a serial number | 27 CFR 479.102(a)
  • Failure to properly mark firearms with required information | 27 CFR 479.102(a)(2)
  • Failure to properly mark firearms with licensee name | 27 CFR 478.92(a)(1)(ii)(C)
  • Failure to properly mark firearms with model name | 27 CFR 478.92(a)(1)(ii)(A)
  • Failure to properly mark firearms with caliber or gauge | 27 CFR 478.92(a)(1)(ii)(B)
  • Failure by manufacturer to mark frames/receivers with required information | 27 CFR 478.92(a)(1)
  • Failure to properly mark firearms with required information | 27 CFR 478.92(a)(1)(ii)
  • Failure to file Form 2 for registration of manufactured NFA firearms | 27 CFR 479.103
  • Failure to maintain an accurate/complete/timely nonlicensee disposition record | 27 CFR 478.123(d)
  • Failure by manufacturer to maintain timely and accurate explosive material records | 27 CFR 555.123(d)
  • Failure to properly mark firearm frame or receiver with required markings | 27 CFR 478.92(a)(2)

View top 10 inspection violations by Type 07 FFLs

Importers
As Type 08 (importer of firearms) or 11 (importer of destructive devices) FFLs, importers make up about 1% of all firearms licensees; however, many importers are also firearm dealers or manufacturers. As for the top 30 violations, only two relate directly to importing activities.

  • Failure by importer to maintain an accurate acquisition record | 27 CFR 478.122(a)
  • Failure by importer to maintain an accurate record of dispositions to other licensees | 27 CFR 478.122(b)

Top 30 Inspection Violations

Below are the 30 most cited violations from ATF compliance inspections of FFLs during 2016–2020. Combined, these violations total over 99.5% of all violations.

#
VIOLATION
CITATION
1

Failure to timely record firearms manufactured/acquired in A&D

27 CFR 478.123(a)
2

Failure to properly mark firearms with manufacturer city and state in which the firearm was manufactured

27 CFR 478.92(a)(1)(ii)(D)
3

Failure to properly mark firearms with a serial number

27 CFR 478.92(a)(1)(i)
4

Failure to properly mark firearms with a serial number

27 CFR 479.102(a)
5

Failure to properly mark firearms with required information

27 CFR 479.102(a)(2)
6

Failure to properly mark firearms with licensee name

27 CFR 478.92(a)(1)(ii)(C)
7

Failure to properly mark firearms with model name

27 CFR 478.92(a)(1)(ii)(A)
8

Failure to properly mark firearms with caliber or gauge

27 CFR 478.92(a)(1)(ii)(B)
9

Failure to maintain timely, accurate and complete disposition record

27 CFR 478.123(b)
10

Knowingly making false entries in the acquisition and disposition record

27 CFR 478.121(c)
11

Failure by dealer to properly maintain a record of the receipt and disposition of firearms

27 CFR 478.125(e)
12

Failure by importer to maintain an accurate acquisition record

27 CFR 478.122(a)
13

Failure by manufacturer to mark frames/receivers with required information

27 CFR 478.92(a)(1)
14

Failure to properly mark firearms with required information

27 CFR 478.92(a)(1)(ii)
15

Failure to provide all information as required in form headings or instructions

27 CFR 478.21(a)
16

Failure to obtain complete purchaser information on Form 4473

27 CFR 478.124(c)(1)
17

Failure to file Form 2 for registration of manufactured NFA firearms

27 CFR 479.103
18

Failure to obtain required license to engage in the business as a dealer, manufacturer or importer of firearms

27 CFR 478.41(b)
19

Failure to record required NICS information on Form 4473, including date NICS was contacted and response was received

27 CFR 478.124(c)(3)(iv)
20

Failure of licensee to sign and/or date (certify) Form 4473

27 CFR 478.124(c)(5)
21

Failure to maintain an accurate/complete/timely nonlicensee disposition record

27 CFR 478.123(d)
22

Failure to verify or record purchaser’s ID documents on Form 4473

27 CFR 478.124(c)(3)(i)
23

Failure to properly mark firearm frame or receiver with required markings

27 CFR 478.92(a)(2)
24

Failure to properly identify firearms transferred on Form 4473

27 CFR 478.124(c)(4)
25

Failure to report multiple handgun sales on Form 3310.4

27 CFR 478.126a
26

Failure to maintain Forms 4473 in required order

27 CFR 478.124(b)
27

Failure by manufacturer to maintain timely and accurate explosive material records

27 CFR 555.123(d)
28

Failure to complete NICS/POC background check prior to transferring firearm

27 CFR 478.102(a)
29

Failure by importer to maintain an accurate record of dispositions to other licensees

27 CFR 478.122(b)
30

Failure to record the transfer of a firearm on a Form 4473

27 CFR 478.124(a)

Orchid FFL Protection

For over a decade, Orchid FFL compliance, operations and technology experts have helped firearm manufacturers, distributors and retailers take a proactive approach to ATF compliance.

Whether your firearms business is preparing for an inspection, currently under inspection, or responding to ATF corrective action – including license revocation – contact our in-house firearms law and compliance professionals to review your compliance plan, perform an onsite or remote mock ATF inspection, and protect your FFL.

Schedule Mock ATF Inspection

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