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ATF to Amend FFL Inspection Policies & Procedures

Written by Orchid


July 27, 2021


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In June, the Biden-Harris administration announced new strategies to prevent and respond to gun crime and ensure public safety. Included were efforts to “establish a zero tolerance for rogue gun dealers that willfully violate the law” and “maximize the efficacy of ATF resources to crack down on rogue gun dealers.”

This week, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) shared an ATF internal memorandum regarding the agency’s refocused role in implementing the administration’s new strategies. Sent from an ATF Assistant Director of Field Operations to all industry operations directors and special agents in charge, the memo reads:

Implementation of the Administration’s Comprehensive Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gun Crime and Ensure Public Safety

On June 23, 2021, President Biden and Attorney General Garland announced the Administration’s Comprehensive Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gun Crime and Ensure Public Safety. ATF’s role in the Strategy is essential, and includes refocusing our FFL inspection and administrative action policies. As we have previously discussed, to ensure ATF effectively executes our role in the Strategy, effective immediately, all Field Divisions shall implement the following:

  • Field divisions shall in all instances utilize Crime Gun Intelligence Analytics (CGIA) and other data driven tools in determining prioritization of inspection resources. The factors that shall be considered include, but are not limited to, the following:
  1. The extent to which firearms sold by the dealer are later used in criminal activity;
  2. The time between the sale of a firearm and its use in a crime;
  3. The number of recoveries associated with shootings, domestic violence, and other violent offenses; and
  4. Additional information developed by local law enforcement partners.
  • Absent extraordinary circumstances, an inspection that results in a finding that an FFL has willfully committed any of the following violations shall result in a revocation recommendation:
  1. The transfer of a firearm to a prohibited person;
  2. Failing to conduct a required background check;
  3. Falsification of records, such as a firearms transaction form;
  4. Failing to respond to an ATF tracing request;
  5. Refusing to permit ATF to conduct an inspection in violation of the law.

ATF will be amending ATF O 5370. l D, Federal Firearms Administrative Action Policy and Procedures to incorporate these requirements. The updated Order will also set forth revised procedures for processing FFL inspections that result in findings of violations listed above or other violations that merit revocation, but that may warrant an alternate recommendation after consideration of whether extraordinary circumstances exist. Inspections where the Director, Industry Operations determines an alternate recommendation to revocation is appropriate shall continue to be routed to the Deputy Assistant Director Industry Operations, Office of Field Operations DAD(IO). The DAD(IO) will approve or deny the recommendation and advise the field division, accordingly. The circumstances of those cases will be briefed to the ATF Director each month during the Director’s Monitored Case Briefings.

Additionally, FFL inspections conducted in states that separately license firearms dealers that result in violations of state law or revocation, shall be shared with the regulatory counterpart in that state.

If you have any questions, please contact Chief Field Management Staff, Kyle Lallensack, at (414) 305-3660.

Interpretation & Impact

While not all included in the internal memo is new news, it’s clear the ATF is placing a greater emphasis on its inspection procedures to execute the administration’s strategies. However, much remains ambiguous and subjective regarding “willful” acts by an FFL to violate federal law, leaving license revocation up to perceived intent backed by a zero-tolerance policy.

As an FFL owner or operator, what is clear is the importance of minimizing risk and eliminating ATF violations. Orchid offers compliance software, regulatory services and employee training designed to keep you compliant and maintain operations. Contact us today to schedule a remote bound book audit or on-site mock inspection and protect your FFL.

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