Gun Stores Use e4473 Technology to Reduce Risk and Increase Efficiency
For FFL holders – large and small, alike – establishing and maintaining compliance in the ever-evolving environment of federal, state, and local regulations can be difficult, if not downright maddening. Often, the price tag associated with updating and training new operating procedures – if you can keep track of them – takes a large sum of cash. What’s worse is that; in most cases, when compliance issues are detected, firearm dealers respond by adding more labor hours to manual compliance checks and re-checks, most times with a minimal increase in compliance. For so many businesses, it becomes a viscous cycle of increased labor hours with only a slight move to the compliance needle after each deficiency is detected or compliance regulation is changed, leading to further frustrations and more profits gobbled up by labor expenses.
Modernizing the ATF Form 4473 Application Process
As an industry, retail firearm employees set out, day after day, with pen and paper to execute and verify the accuracy of regulated documents – documents, that if executed improperly, can have negative effects. Practically speaking, the role of exacting document execution is on the shoulders of staff who hold a position with lower pay and higher turnover rates. Relying on costly and error prone manual processes during the retail point of sale (POS) process can prove to be expensive (and risky) and gun stores should consider implementing technology solutions created specifically to address these compliance regulated transactions.
Consider ATF Form 4473, required for over-the-counter sales of firearms to non-licensees. This form holds the distinction of being the highest source of ATF issued violations year in and year out – edition after edition. After all, ATF Form 4473 doesn’t just “seem like” it’s similar to a tax return – it wasn’t until after September 11, 2011 with the Homeland Security Act that ATF moved from under the Treasury Department to the Department of Justice! ATF Form 4473 is wrought with “if” and “or” that require workflows for – literally – hundreds of potential purchase/transfer scenarios. Finding employees that can execute regulated documents / document reviews like an IRS auditor and engage customers with retail firearm sales skills with legible handwriting is challenging.
With all its intricacies and exceptions, integrated or non-integrated gun store POS and an electronic 4473 is ideal solution. Properly implemented, an electronic 4473 application process can yield an overall reduction in labor hour investment and increase compliance. Win – Win.
Finding a Quality e4473 and Gun Store POS Software Solution
To evaluate which technology(s) is best suited to handle your e4473 needs, consider the following:
- Is the company providing the technology solution established in the shooting sports industry with a track record of client success? In the current day and age, technology providers sprout up everywhere – and disappear just as quickly as they arrived. Seek out a gun store software provider that works exclusively within the firearms industry and has a business reputation for treating customers fairly.
- How is the regulated gun store software kept current? Businesses should seek partners that are committed to keeping their gun store software offerings current and aligned with ATF regulations, without having to purchase additional products or upgrades and with a simple process for delivery.
- How is the gun store e4473 technology vetted to assure compliance with ATF regulations? There is no official “certification” offered by the ATF, so asking a vendor how their e4473 or firearm dealer POS is vetted for compliance is essential. Know if you can rely on your selected partner to assure their technology is compliant now and in the future, or if your partner is putting the compliance validation processes on your business’s shoulders. If your business is required to validate, do you have that expertise in house or will you incur additional costs to source a provider?
- Do you have the hardware required to utilize e4473 software, or will additional investments be required (don’t forget to check your internet access and speed)? e4473 software solutions can vary widely with their hardware and data access needs. Therefore, ask your partner if there are specific hardware / infrastructure requirements and, if so, will any of your current hardware / network tools be utilized? If not, what is the investment in specific hardware / infrastructure needed to implement their system(s)? Many times, the price tag for hardware / network tools can far exceed the cost of the software itself.
- Can the e4473 software be integrated into other systems such as an electronic bound book, or a Firearm Dealer POS to further drive efficiencies and data accuracy? Although the ATF’s version of the e4473 can solve the handwriting issue, it does not drive full efficiency due to the lack of integration with your Point of Sale and eBound Book. Without these gun store software integrations, you are losing out on a tremendous amount of controls and time efficiencies. Having a single source of data, managed by your business expert, that flows across your bound book, inventory, and to the digital Forms 4473 (and like documents) will enable your business to realize some of the highest levels of efficiency and compliance, which will positively impact your bottom line.
- Does the technology have logic to prevent transfers after denials or indication of prohibited status in e4473, Section A? It is highly recommended to have ‘lock-out’ logic for known prohibited transfers in your chosen technology solution. More than once, simple oversights have created serious compliance issues for transfers; having a lock out that prevents transfers can save lots of headaches later.
- Does the technology have logic to assure valid identification, age requirements, and supporting documentation are all validated against the specific firearm(s) requested for transfer? ATF Form 4473 has hundreds of potential workflow scenarios. Look for gun store software that is smart enough to identify and navigate specific scenarios, preferably with alerts and notifications, to prevent even the most rarely encountered scenarios from causing issues.
- Does the technology allow for remote oversight and access to centralized processes? Centralizing oversight allows for the information to come to the expert(s), not vice versa. Look for a firearm dealer software system that doesn’t require physical hands on to view in progress or completed documents so that all relevant employees can view transactions as needed, without tracking paper documents throughout your organization.
- Is there adequate implementation and conversion training available to support your retail firearm business? For many gun stores and ranges, the biggest hurdle for e4473 and POS software integration is change control and project management. Seek a partner that doesn’t just install hardware/software and leave. Instead, look for a partner that offers various levels of conversion support and can provide training for the specific needs of your business operation. Ask about technical support, as well as compliance support and what services are included with any purchase.
Gun stores that invest in technology that enables business processes will empower customers and employees to transact efficiently and effectively – without the need for precision audit skills at the counter. It’s amazing the level of confidence you and your team will develop when they know there’s always a system in the background – checking and rechecking their accuracy. By implementing e4473 technology, you’ll improve more than just the bottom line, but your peace of mind as well.