FFL Common Misconceptions
You’re finally considering getting your FFL License after reading about all of the awesome benefits. (What? You don’t know about the benefits of a FFL? Quick, go read “The Benefits of a FFL” blog post now!) So now you’ve got an image in your head of you sitting at your kitchen table, quietly doing your FFL activities when suddenly the ATF bursts in, guns blazing, demanding to see every inch of your home! They tell you that they’re seizing all of your inventory because you’ve been keeping your books wrong, and they need to investigate you. You wouldn’t be the only one to have this fear of the unknown. It’s a common concern of many people. Thankfully, it’s highly inflated and very false.
First concern and misconception – “the ATF will be watching you like a hawk.” In our experience, unless you’ve gotten yourself wrapped up in some criminal activity, which we all know you’d never ever do, this is definitely not going to happen. First of all, the ATF can only conduct one warrantless inspection per year per federal law. Furthermore, according to the ATF’s website, there were over 77,000 FFLs in fiscal year 2013. They performed over 13,100 inspections. This means that less than 20% of FFL holders were given an inspection in that year. If they kept up that trend, you could only expect an inspection roughly every five years. Realistically though, from what we’ve heard from other FFLs who have been in the business 20+ years, they may have had in inspection from ATF once or twice in that 20+ year time period. Long story short- relax. Conduct yourself like a good citizen and follow the rules, and you’ll have nothing to worry about. Pawnshops are normally inspected annually, were most FFL dealers rarely ever have an inspection.
Second concern and misconception– the paperwork that goes along with a FFL is terribly confusing, and you’ll do it wrong and go to jail. Once again, unless you’re doing it wrong on purpose, this is not an issue. The one important book that goes along with your record keeping for your FFL is actually very simple. You can think of it like you would a checkbook register. Every time something goes in or out of your account (inventory), you mark it down. Nothing too complicated at all! Keep track of your sales, where things are going and where they’re coming from. And, of course, as a customer of FFL123.com, we’ll assist you through any questions you might have along the way. What happens if you do get inspected and something was incorrect? The ATF’s goal is to educate you so it does not happen again. They’ll tell you what you did wrong, why is was wrong, and how to correct the mistake. If you think about it, the FFL holder is the only person with records of who gets what firearms (including serial number). The ATF needs to ensure we keep good records encase they need to do an criminal investigation on one of our past customers.
Third concern and misconception- is about personal inventory and how that works once you have a FFL. When it comes to this issue, you have several options. Your first option is just to keep your FFL inventory and your personal collection (guns you had before getting your FFL) completely separate. Then if you want to add to your personal collection later, just enter it into your books, then mark it out of your books into your personal inventory. The second is that you can mark all of your personal guns “Not For Sale” with a little sticker or tag. Finally, you can keep a record of your firearms in a booklet you can get from the ATF in which you mark down the make, model, serial number, and a few other pieces of information, making clear which firearms are for your personal use. Having an FFL have no impact on your personal collection, only impacts you if you go to sell a personal firearm, it is recommended to transfer through your FFL.