ATF Firearms Industry Operations Manual Obtained via GOA FOIA Request

KMM696

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ATF Firearms Industry Operations Manual Obtained via GOA FOIA Request


Springfield, VA
-(Ammoland.com)-
Gun Owners of America has obtained the
Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF]
Industry Operations Manual used by Industry Operations Inspectors (IOI). The gun-rights group received a copy of the document after submitting multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request the federal law enforcement agency.

The Firearms Industry Operations Manual provides the rules and guidelines used by
“Industry Operations Investigators.
” These are the investigators that make up the regulatory side of ATF. They are responsible for examining and investigating the records kept by gun dealers on customer's firearms purchases nationwide.


I'm not an FFL - but I'm curious what some of our resident FFLs think of the ATFs manual on inspection. The linked article above has a link to the complete document, and I've attached the PDF to this post. I do have a Curio & Relic license, which is covered by this inspection manual as well. I haven't read the whole thing yet but what I have is surprisingly straightforward.
 

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one-eyed Jack

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I've been licensed for 37 years now and have had many "audits". About every 5-7 years. Until a few years ago, the audits would be a surprise visit. They have learned that prior notice made things easier for both them and us. They just get a printout (never accurate) from NFA branch showing what you may have for NFA items. Then they look at a few 4473s, your bound book, check SNs of your inventory and update you on any reg. changes. They look at your FFL and tax stamp if you have one. Then they finish their coffee and leave. I've never run into an examiner who wasn't thorough and professional. (You can flame me for that). Jack.
 

Boris

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manuals are one thing, RL cases another. If ATF wants to f*** with you for any reason, they will and there is plenty of discretion and latitude in that manual that allows bureaucrats to make your life living hell and get you out of business.
 

Dennis in MA

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I've been licensed for 37 years now and have had many "audits". About every 5-7 years. Until a few years ago, the audits would be a surprise visit. They have learned that prior notice made things easier for both them and us. They just get a printout (never accurate) from NFA branch showing what you may have for NFA items. Then they look at a few 4473s, your bound book, check SNs of your inventory and update you on any reg. changes. They look at your FFL and tax stamp if you have one. Then they finish their coffee and leave. I've never run into an examiner who wasn't thorough and professional. (You can flame me for that). Jack.

The government is full of guys looking to string you up. The IRS is full of them. The SEC has some of them. I've seen both sides of that one. (And I've gotten boned by the IRS and know plenty of others who have.) Good to know the ATF seems to be about ensuring things are followed and educating the dealers instead of just looking to be the Hammer of Thor.
 

one-eyed Jack

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The government is full of guys looking to string you up. The IRS is full of them. The SEC has some of them. I've seen both sides of that one. (And I've gotten boned by the IRS and know plenty of others who have.) Good to know the ATF seems to be about ensuring things are followed and educating the dealers instead of just looking to be the Hammer of Thor.
I've seen cases where dealers had many non life threatening paperwork issues and the examiners allowed them to be corrected rather than hassle them. Jack.
 

one-eyed Jack

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I'm guessing the guys going around doing routine compliance check-ins and drinking coffee with FFLs aren't the same ones gearing up and kicking in doors, torching compounds in Texas or shooting unarmed mothers holding children.
No. The "Investigators" that do the audits are in compliance, not enforcement. Jack.
 

drgrant

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I'm guessing the guys going around doing routine compliance check-ins and drinking coffee with FFLs aren't the same ones gearing up and kicking in doors, torching compounds in Texas or shooting unarmed mothers holding children.

As Jack says, two different ball games. The inspectors are just pencil pushers. Most of them are pretty benign.

The agents go between "good cop vs bad cop" and the bad cop types are mega pricks, like 50 foot pole shoved straight up their ass, types.

-Mike
 

drgrant

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Good to know the ATF seems to be about ensuring things are followed and educating the dealers instead of just looking to be the Hammer of Thor.

Lol, but no. The inspectors might be pretty benign (let's think about it- all they do is really observe and report, and maybe give advice to dealers on compliance) but if you attract a field agent of the large type douchebag variety, they will dig to china to try to f*** you up. A lot of dealers get lucky and never or rarely see an agent, or they get a "good cop"
agent. (eg, ones who only care about real criminals, not a dealer just trying to do business). Get a douchebag agent though and it's basically hell on earth, from what some dealers have told me.

-Mike
 

CrackPot

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I met and talked to 10 different ATF agents when they audited 50 dealers in the mill this past summer. The stereotypical ATF inspector is just a regular guy (or gal) with a modest paying government job. They have a job to do and do it. They have no political agenda. Their job is to insure you are in compliance with the law and rules and help you correct any mistakes you are making.

They find mistakes (we all make mistakes). They write up the mistakes. It all goes into the computer with pull down menus. What they pick results in corrective action text (totally generic) which becomes part of the report. They then sit with you and read through the report.

3 instances of reporting transactions not in a timely fashion
2 instances of not correctly marking the 4473 field 12d2
7 instances of not correctly marking the 4473 field 15
etc

Each of these "violations" comes with corrective action text. You sign the report and agree to improve. They smile, shake your hand and go back to their job, wife, kids, etc.

Yes, it is a government audit. But it is an audit that is guaranteed to happen at a regular cadence. You are not a defense contractor with an FFL making munitions or a explosive factory. You are a small time firearms manufacturer/dealer. Easy.

Other government audits are conducted not when but on an IF basis and IF they audit you they are out to get you (for the most part). legal or financial consequences. The ATF is about paperwork.

About the only thing you can do that will get you in real trouble is to transfer a gun to someone without doing a 4473/background check AND you reasonably should have known they were a prohibited person. Other than that it takes multiple failed inspections with egregious mistakes before they shut you down.
 

Mountain

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I'm guessing the guys going around doing routine compliance check-ins and drinking coffee with FFLs aren't the same ones gearing up and kicking in doors, torching compounds in Texas or shooting unarmed mothers holding children.


While the ATF may have been along for the ride or provided additional legal cover, who was leading those sh!t shows?
 

new guy

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I believe the ATF was running those shitshows itself, though they undoubtedly got the green light from central scumbags higher up (i.e. the twat Janet Reno in the case of Waco, right?).
 

new guy

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Besides Reno, wasn't FBI the primary offender?


Suspecting the group of stockpiling illegal weapons, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) obtained a search warrant for the compound and arrest warrants for Koresh and a select few of the group's members.

The incident began when the ATF attempted to raid the ranch. An intense gun battle erupted, resulting in the deaths of four government agents and six Branch Davidians. Upon the ATF's failure to raid the compound, a siege lasting 51 days was initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Eventually, the FBI launched an assault and initiated a tear gas attack in an attempt to force the Branch Davidians out of the ranch. During the attack, a fire engulfed Mount Carmel Center. This resulted in the deaths of 76 Branch Davidians, including 20 children, two pregnant women and David Koresh.[8][9]

The ATF started it and f***ed it up badly enough that the FBI moved in and took over. They of course did the 'hold my beer' thing and made a much bigger mess, at the direction of Reno who had Clinton's blessing. So yeah, screw them both.

Similar situation with Ruby Ridge. ATF started it and the other agencies moved in and put their own shitty stamp on things: Ruby Ridge - Wikipedia
 

one-eyed Jack

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During an audit, the NFA stuff can get interesting. One time I had in inventory three more items than the report showed. I gave the examiner copies of the three Form 3s. Another time it showed that I had a suppressor that I didn't have. Turns out that it was registered to a dealer in Arizona who had the same name as me. Fixed, no problem. Easy. Jack.
 

one-eyed Jack

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Wholesaler says 6 12 gauge 870s went to Jack. Jack actually received 5 12 gauge 870s and one 20 gauge 870. ATF agent arrives the day of delivery for an audit, carrying the wholesaler's paperwork.
No problem. Jack calls the supplier, returns the wrong gun and the supplier ships the correct gun. As long as there is a paperwork trail, no issues. Mistakes happen and it's not the end of the world and ATF could care less. Jack.
 

Mountain

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The ATF started it and f***ed it up badly enough that the FBI moved in and took over. They of course did the 'hold my beer' thing and made a much bigger mess, at the direction of Reno who had Clinton's blessing. So yeah, screw them both.

Similar situation with Ruby Ridge. ATF started it and the other agencies moved in and put their own shitty stamp on things: Ruby Ridge - Wikipedia

Gotcha, thanks.
 

Dadstoys

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You were right though - my post blamed the ATF for burning Waco and shooting Weaver, but it was our illustrious FBI.
ATF fired the first shots at Waco and when they got their asses handed to them the FBI took over.

Ruby ridge was an ATF set up , but it was Federal Marshals who went in and made first contact.
Then when that went south , FBI stepped in.
 

CrackPot

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Wholesaler says 6 12 gauge 870s went to Jack. Jack actually received 5 12 gauge 870s and one 20 gauge 870. ATF agent arrives the day of delivery for an audit, carrying the wholesaler's paperwork.
They dont arrive carrying the wholesalers paperwork. They check your bound book and all your physical inventory to insure the match. no extras guns not logged, no guns open in the bound book but missing. They dont check your suppliers records, they dont check your invoices, etc.

The only time there is a sanity check on the chain of custody is when a gun is used in a crime and a trace is done. Then the ATF tracing center calls the manufacturer, p320 serial number XXX. manufacturer says sold to distributor on 1/1/18. they call distributor and say you got it from sig on 1/1/18. distributor says they sent to 4seasons on 1/15/18. They call 4seasons. 4 seasons says they sold to john doe on 4473 on 2/4/18. 4seasons reads the contents of the 4473 over the phone.

Now if that chain has a hiccup, someone says they did not receive or on that date received something else, expect an anal probe.

When guns come in you need to check that serial numbers match between the invoice and what you got, but in the end, your responsibility is to correctly record what you ACTUALLY received. That is your obligation.

The scenario you showed is not really a viable scenario
 

Rob Boudrie

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I've seen cases where dealers had many non life threatening paperwork issues and the examiners allowed them to be corrected rather than hassle them. Jack.
The most any of my friends got was a bit over 4,000. It seems he had been writing out the state name on the 4473s instead of using the USPS two letter designation.
 

CrackPot

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The most any of my friends got was a bit over 4,000. It seems he had been writing out the state name on the 4473s instead of using the USPS two letter designation.
And the next inspector you get will ding you for using the abbreviation. One thing you learn when you have 10 different inspectors doing 50 dealers in a short period of time is the variability between inspectors and how they interpret certain rules. They are just people and they too make mistakes
 

Reptile

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Here is a doozy...

I once handled a 2nd Gen Glock. Serial number on box was CCV746US. Serial number (the official Glock sticker) on box was CVC746US. (That is just a example)

Anyway, 2 of the letters on the actual frame and box were transposed. Maybe happened once every millionth gun. That was many years ago. Probably impossible for that to happen today.

It's what's on the frame that matters even if the previous record was wrong.

The dealer made a note of it.

I thought that was an amusing story.

Also, regarding 2nd Gen Glocks, V (Victor) looks VERY similar to Y (Yankee) on the frame. Dealers may need to verify with a magnified glass or a cell phone close photo.

Knowing the above, it would not shock me in mistakes were not made on Bound Books or 4473's a hundred times out of the millions go Glocks sold.

It is also easy to make mistakes based on pre conceived names....

Actual: AFT887US

May be transcribed as ATF887US because "ATF" is a common set of initials to many people.
An individual may have their own unique 3 digit initials that are meaningful to them but may accidentally get transcribed if not careful.

These are excusable mistakes, I would presume, but interesting.
 

Qwikdraw45

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When guns come in you need to check that serial numbers match between the invoice and what you got, but in the end, your responsibility is to correctly record what you ACTUALLY received. That is your obligation.
That seems like it would be one of the biggest ways to make an error. I had a dealer order a rifle for me. It was in the box, and he did the 4473 based on the sticker on the box. I asked him if he was going to check the serial number on the rifle. His reply was basically that "They're very good about having the sticker with serial number on the box match what's inside". I checked anyway, myself.

Ties in with Reptile's post below:
Here is a doozy...

I once handled a 2nd Gen Glock. Serial number on box was CCV746US. Serial number (the official Glock sticker) on box was CVC746US. (That is just a example)

Anyway, 2 of the letters on the actual frame and box were transposed. Maybe happened once every millionth gun. That was many years ago. Probably impossible for that to happen today.

It's what's on the frame that matters even if the previous record was wrong.

The dealer made a note of it.

^^^^ This is what a dealer was telling me years ago. Agent A says "You need to complete this box this way. Line it and initial it here. Agent B comes in and says. No, this is the way it needs to be completed. Line it and initial here that you've been advised. " Dealer shows the corrected entry to "B" that "A" had him make, and is told "B's" way is the way it needs to be done. A big example of this was the immigration status line (12?). NH dealer said put "N/A" in the box. KTP said "No. redo the form. Leave it blank."
 
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