So, you’ve received a revocation notice. Unfortunately, ATF’s compliance inspection of your facility revealed your FFL willfully violated one, or multiple, provisions of the Gun Control Act and/or state and federal law. However, while your license to operate a firearms business is very much at risk, it is not lost yet.
If in our last Zero Tolerance Protection article, we broke down what is included in a revocation notice and summarized ATF procedures for revocation. Though your FFL may never face revocation, it’s critical to understand the process, your options, and immediate steps you can take should you ever receive such notice.
There’s no taking back a revocation notice, but there are immediate actions you can take after receiving one to potentially save you and your business.
Request an ATF Hearing
As outlined in the revocation notice, licensees have 15 days from receipt of the notice to file a request for a hearing with the Director of Industry Operations (DIO) in their ATF field division to challenge the revocation. While your gut reaction may be to fight your revocation, it is worth taking a few days to consider your options and the consequences of both requesting a hearing and accepting the loss of your license.
Though not a guarantee by any means, requesting a revocation hearing gives you an opportunity to present your case and possibly save your FFL. Even if you lose the hearing, you can always appeal to a federal district court, or at least know you tried to prevail. Just ensure to request a hearing within those 15 days or you’ll lose that opportunity and your license.
While licensees may represent themselves at revocation hearings, you’ll likely want to hire professional legal representation – especially since ATF will be backed by government counsel. Use those 15 days to find qualified representation, including an attorney, certified public accountant, or other person recognized to practice before ATF.
Of course, legal representation comes at a cost. Depending on retainer fees and billable hour rates, revocation representation could cost you upwards of $10,000-25,000. A large factor in determining whether to request a hearing, only you can decide how much your business means to you and whether you can financially afford to appeal your revocation. And, keep in mind, should you lose your ATF hearing, the cost of legal representation increases as you appeal to higher courts.
No one said appealing your FFL revocation would be easy or affordable, but there are actions you can take after receiving your notice to show goodwill to ATF. What you can do will depend on the violations you’ve been cited for but making efforts and/or spending money in attempts to correct wrongdoings and improve compliance may go a long way in determining the fate of your license should you request a hearing.
If you’re not already, consider investing in compliance technology, like electronic A&D bound books, e4473s and digital storage, to limit the risk of human errors and modernize operations. You should also evaluate your previous compliance program and implement additional persons and safeguards to sure up regulatory controls. Again, your options for improvement will vary based on your violations and nature of your business.
Like requesting a hearing or hiring legal representation, there’s no guarantee taking such measures will save your FFL, but not doing so will all but guarantee you lose it.
Communicate with Employees
As a business owner or operator that employs others, it is your responsibility to have tough conversations with your employees and communicate when their jobs may be at risk. While your revocation is not yet final, there is a chance it could be upheld and your business closed. Even if you lose your ATF hearing and appeal to a higher court, you may not continue operations during the appeal process (which could last months) without approval by the DIO.
You may choose not to share specific details with your staff, but you should communicate the reality of the situation. This may also be a good opportunity to share what they can do better in the meantime as part of your goodwill actions.
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.
Continuing 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 revocation hearings and your options should you lose at the ATF level.
In the meantime, 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.