When do Gunsmiths require an ATF FFL license?
You work on firearms occasionally and now want to earn money and professionalize. Well, you’re going to have to become aware and comply with ATF gunsmith license requirements. More times than I can remember, I have come across people unaware of ATF gunsmith regulations, who have been engaged in the gunsmithing business on their own, but have not been properly licensed and in possession of a ATF gunsmith license. According to federal law, a person who “…devotes time, attention and labor to engaging in such activity…with the principal objective of livelihood and profit…” is defined as a “Gunsmith”,qualifies as a “Dealer” under the definition, and is required to be licensed as “Dealer in Firearms”. Although the gunsmith may have no interest in “dealing” in firearms or becoming licensed as an FFL, the law requires it in most cases.
By: JR Valdes Firearms Licensing And Consulting Group, LLC
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Pertinent ATF gunsmith regulations will not be discussed here. There are many important differences in the ATF regulatory scheme applicable to a gunsmith operation as opposed to a retail dealer or other Type FFL. This article is for persons who are interested in gunsmith FFL requirements, and gaining approval from ATF to engage in the business as a gunsmith.
So assuming that you have made the decision to get licensed, I’m going to give you some pointers here that may help you make the transition to a licensee much smoother. Please understand that in this format it’s extremely difficult to comprehensively deal with the subject, but hopefully you will benefit from the information.
Steps to becoming licensed. How To Apply For a Gunsmith License
In basic terms, the application for the “Gunsmith” license is essentially no different than the process for the “Dealers” license.
1) FFL zoning requirements.
Before considering applying with the ATF, determine whether the type of business you are going to engage in complies with FFL zoning requirements and State law. Obviously not all persons who qualify as gunsmiths do the same type of work. This may make a difference with respect to your qualification on a local and state level.
So this can be tricky for a gunsmith because your business may be limited to certain functions that will easily be approved by local authorities, or may be more complex and require a expanded level of regulation. The key is to be honest with all the regulating bodies and get the proper local and state permits. The reason this is so important is because ATF will verify that you will comply with local and state regulations, and will not issue a license if you have no possibility of compliance. Furthermore, ATF will continue to evaluate your compliance with local and state law during ATF inspections and may refer any possible violations to the proper authority.
2) Get the ATF Forms you need. Read applicable sections of the ATF website.
Once you have determined that you will comply with local and state rules, access the ATF website and download the ATF Form 7 as well as all the related documents. ATF will send you a package if you don’t have the ability to download the forms. The ATF website is a wealth of information for you. Nearly every source related to firearms regulations and licensing issues can be accessed on the ATF site. It’s time consuming, but I urge you to become well informed so you will avoid problems in the future and stay in business.
3) Submit a complete and accurate ATF Form 7 package.
Fill out the ATF Form 7, complete related items such as fingerprinting, etc. and submit a complete package. If you have any questions about your particular situation, contact the local ATF Area Office and speak to an (IOI). Just one caveat here, make sure you ask for an IOI. ATF Special Agents are highly trained professional law enforcement people, and will help you as best they can in this area, but you want to speak to an Industry Operations Investigator (IOI) because they are working in this area every day and are the experts. Just keep in mind that it’s not the job of ATF Investigators to necessarily “help” you get licensed. ATF will guide you to the sources you need and answer most of your questions however.
4) Ensure you are qualified in all possible ways prior to meeting with ATF.
Once your application has been screened, a IOI will contact you to set up an appointment to examine your premises and determine if you are otherwise qualified. Here’s where your pre-preparation pays off. If you have already determined that you have no local or state issues, and are otherwise qualified, you should have your license in the mail in 30-45 days, usually less. Believe it or not, many applicants end up withdrawing an application because of their lack of attention in this area.
Your FFL qualification issues are unique. Help ATF qualify you for the FFL.
It is impossible to address every possible case in this format. Every situation is different and has it’s own unique set of circumstances, and associated individuals. ATF is obligated by law to ensure that applicants for Federal Firearms Licenses are qualified under applicable regulations. ATF will issue a FFL if you as an applicant have met the criteria established. The key is to simply ensure that your business plans fit into the established criteria. Don’t try to fit the criteria into your plans. It has never worked, and will never work.
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I wish you the best in your business ventures. Always consult an attorney.
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