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Zero Tolerance Protection: How Leadership & Training Can Prevent ATF Violations

Written by Orchid


October 26, 2022


White text atop black background next to grayscale photo of President Joe Biden

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi

Seeing how it’s currently football season, it’s fitting to quote one of the sport’s all-time greats. A legendary NFL head coach with five NFL Championships/Super Bowl wins, Vince Lombardi knew a thing or two about perfection. Behind electric offenses and stout defenses, his Green Bay Packers dominated the 1960s. However, it’s Lombardi’s renowned leadership that is often most remembered.

During a “tough guy” era when most coaches would beat their players down to get better play, Lombardi would coach his players up and show them how to win. He led with confidence, took responsibility for errors and losses, and preached discipline and hard work.

Football isn’t all that different from the firearms industry. As an FFL owner-operator, you serve as a head coach for your business and team of employees. To win games – or ATF inspections – you must prepare, inspire discipline, and take responsibility. Failing to do so will only lead to violations and the biggest loss of all, revocation. And we all know how the Biden administration’s zero tolerance policy has impacted ATF inspections and revocations this past year.

Responsible Leaders

Responsible Persons (RPs) play a critical role in managing operations and making compliance decisions for their FFL. ATF requires your business have at least one RP, though multiple is often recommended. Generally, RPs include partners, sole proprietors, site managers, corporate officers and directors, and majority shareholders, but not every owner-operator needs to, or should, be an RP.

Whoever is identified as an RP, they must take the role seriously as they can be held liable for ATF violations, revocation, and any civil/federal charges stemming from willful or illegal activities. Responsible Persons should take charge as compliance experts and lead by example, emphasizing best practices, practicing perfect practice, and training their staffs to do the same.

Employee Compliance Training

Whether you occasionally work the gun counter or manage the FFL from behind the scenes, your employees are the first line of defense against ATF violations. From completing firearms transactions to ensuring every new gun is marked and serialized, your employees are responsible for everyday compliance. As such, it’s critical they not only understand how to perform tasks as required by regulation, but also the consequences of failing to do so.

New or seasoned, all FFL employees should be trained on the importance of compliance and how to maintain compliant operations within their role and those that their work impacts, beginning with onboarding.

From day one, compliance should be viewed as a responsibility, not as a burden. Responsible Persons and/or senior employees should teach new team members how to perform duties alongside compliance, rather than as an afterthought. By emphasizing the significance of compliance early on, you set the stage for compliant operations. But training shouldn’t end after onboarding.

As laws, rules, and regulations change at the federal, state, and local levels, so too must your compliance training. Employees should be kept informed of how regulatory or operational changes impact compliance and the correct ways of performing tasks to avoid violation. And training should be required regularly of all staff – including RPs – to ensure bad habits are corrected, questions can be answered, and employees stay educated.

As Lombardi said, “winning is a habit.” Only through responsible leadership, employee training, repetition, and proactive best practices can your FFL make compliance a habit and win inspection after inspection.

Orchid Zero Tolerance Protection

At Orchid, our team of operations, technology and legal professionals understand the risks of today’s firearm businesses. For over a decade, we’ve worked with FFLs big and small to implement leading compliance best practices and software solutions to eliminate violations and protect licenses from revocation.

Throughout our Zero Tolerance Protection series, we’ve shared our expertise and experience in proactive compliance as we looked closer at Biden’s policy and its impact on the firearms industry, reviewed how to avoid and correct violations, and suggested ways to protect your FFL from the risk of revocation. Our series may now be over, but compliance must be maintained every day to protect your license.

Learn more about a Zero Tolerance Rapid Assessment of prior ATF Reports of Violations, your A&D Bound Book, and recent ATF Forms 4473. We also encourage you to watch our webinar on ATF zero tolerance enforcement, schedule an in-person or remote mock ATF inspection, and implement leading compliance software in your retail FFL. Contact Orchid today to protect your FFL from a zero tolerance revocation.

Biden Zero Tolerance Webinar