Zero Tolerance Protection: Most Frequently Cited ATF Violations

Written by Orchid

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August 10, 2022

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

Each year, the ATF publishes a list of the top 10 most frequently cited inspection violations. Like a compliance cheat sheet, the list serves as a reminder to FFLs what not to do. However, while you might expect licensees to not make the same mistakes year over year, the top violations are often repeated – as was the case from 2020 to 2021 – further proving FFLs continue to fail an otherwise open book test. 

Still, these 10 violations are only a snapshot of all violations cited during ATF inspections. Thanks to the new National Firearms in Commerce and Trafficking Assessment (NFCTA), we now have complete inspection data from 2016–2020, including over 67.6 million instances of 218 different violations cited during the five-year period. And while not all FFL violations are equal, any violation could be considered “willful” and grounds for revocation under the Biden administration’s zero tolerance policy.

Of ATF violations cited during that time, exactly 30 were cited at least 10,000 times, combining for 99.5% of violations. The top three alone were accounted for 35.8 million (53%) violations.

Top 30 ATF Inspection Violations

Below are the top 30 most cited ATF inspection violations from 2016–2020, ranked by total violations. We recommend keeping this on hand as a constant reminder to stay compliant and protect your FFL from revocation.

RANK
VIOLATION
1

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

2

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

3

Failure to properly mark firearms with a serial number

4

Failure to properly mark firearms with a serial number

5

Failure to properly mark firearms with required information

6

Failure to properly mark firearms with licensee name

7

Failure to properly mark firearms with model name

8

Failure to properly mark firearms with caliber or gauge

9

Failure to maintain timely, accurate and complete disposition record

10

Knowingly making false entries in the acquisition and disposition record

11

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

12

Failure by importer to maintain an accurate acquisition record

13

Failure by manufacturer to mark frames/receivers with required information

14

Failure to properly mark firearms with required information

15

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

16

Failure to obtain complete purchaser information on Form 4473

17

Failure to file Form 2 for registration of manufactured NFA firearms

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

Failure to properly mark firearm frame or receiver with required markings

24

Failure to properly identify firearms transferred on Form 4473

25

Failure to report multiple handgun sales on Form 3310.4

26

Failure to maintain Forms 4473 in required order

27

Failure by manufacturer to maintain timely and accurate explosive material records

28

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

29

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

30

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

Willful Violations

In our previous Zero Tolerance Protection article, we discussed willful violations, including specific examples provided by the ATF. Of the 30 most cited violations, we found 21 closely related to these willful violations. Should your FFL be cited with any of these related, your license could be at risk of being revoked.

Transferring a firearm to a prohibited person

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

Failing to run a required background check

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

Falsifying records

  • Knowingly making false entries in the acquisition and disposition record

Failure to account for firearms

  • Failure to timely record firearms manufactured/acquired in A&D
  • Failure to maintain timely, accurate and complete disposition record
  • Failure by dealer to properly maintain a record of the receipt and disposition of firearms
  • Failure by importer to maintain an accurate acquisition record
  • Failure to file Form 2 for registration of manufactured NFA firearms

Failure to verify and document buyer eligibility

  • Failure to obtain complete purchaser information on Form 4473
  • Failure to verify or record purchaser’s ID documents on Form 4473

Failure to maintain records for successful firearm tracing

  • Failure to properly mark firearms with a serial number
  • Failure to properly mark firearms with licensee name
  • Failure by manufacturer to mark frames/receivers with required information
  • Failure to properly mark firearms with required information
  • Failure to provide all information as required in form headings or instructions
  • Failure to properly mark firearm frame or receiver with required markings
  • Failure to properly identify firearms transferred on Form 4473
  • Failure to maintain Forms 4473 in required order
  • Failure by importer to maintain an accurate record of dispositions to other licensees
  • Failure to record the transfer of a firearm on a Form 4473

Failure to report multiple sales of handguns

  • Failure to report multiple handgun sales on Form 3310.4

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.

As we continue our Zero Tolerance Protection series, we’ll share our expertise and experience in proactive compliance as we look closer at Biden’s policy and its impact on the firearms industry, review how to avoid and correct violations, and suggest ways to protect your FFL from the risk of revocation. Next, we’ll dive deeper into the first willful violation example, transferring a firearm to a prohibited person.

In the meantime, contact us today to schedule your in-person or remote mock ATF inspection, get started with leading compliance software, and enroll in an attorney-backed FFL Protection Plan. One phone call or email could protect your FFL from a zero tolerance revocation.

Protect Your FFL Today

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