There has been lot of talk recently about guns in the United States and how to purchase them. This is why the questions about what is an FFL and how do you get one have come up. The answers are both simple and difficult at the same time. With the recent mass shootings, many people have been looking to get into the firearms business so that they can help people protect themselves.
FFL stands for Federal Firearms License, and it is a type of license given to those who are federally recognized firearms dealers. While some states still allow private party firearms sales, an FFL will be required if you want to be in the firearms business. An FFL is required for the following firearms transactions:
- Manufacturing of firearms or ammunition
- Importing firearms from around the world
- Interstate sales of firearms
- Intrastate sales of firearms
Why do Federal Firearms Licenses hold so much popularity? This is because they not only allow a gun store to operate legally but they also allow a gun store to receive firearms that are bought on the internet. That means that customers are charged a fee and an FFL dealer receives a legal shipment of a firearm. When that shipment is received, the FFL dealer releases it to the customer after a background check is completed. This way guns purchased online are still checked.
How Do You Get a Federal Firearms License?
Federal Firearms Licenses are managed through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. They can be obtained by filling out paperwork from their website and sending them into the ATF. Of course, the process is a little more detailed than that but that is the gist of it. Here are the details about how to get an FFL–
You must first obtain a copy of ATF Form 7. This is the application for a Federal Firearms License and is the main form involved in this process. Filling out this form completely and accurately is a must. Make sure that you have someone else review the form to ensure that there are no errors. If you can, have your attorney to look over the form. Any mistakes could end up in the delay of your FFL being granted or being denied.
Every Responsible Party (i.e. someone who is going to be involved in the sale of guns must fill out a fingerprint card completely and attach a passport style photograph to the document. It is wise to perform a background check on anyone you want to be a responsible party before the application is submitted because it will look poorly if one of your employees has a criminal record. It will also make that employee not eligible to sell firearms.
You will need to create four copies of this document. One copy is sent to the ATF. Copies three and four will remain in your possession and should be stored in two different locations. The last copy will be sent to the chief law enforcement agency in your area. That is the law enforcement agency which is responsible for firearms licenses where your business will be or is located.
The local ATF office will assign an Industry Operations Investigator to your application. This investigator will conduct an in-person interview with you to determine your suitability for being a federal firearms licensee. They will also inspect the property and permits that your business has/requires. Failure to have the proper permitting, zoning, or problems with the property may result in a denial of your license.
Once the investigator is done with his/her checks, they will submit their findings along with background checks to the local ATF supervisor. That supervisor will make a recommendation and forward on your application. If your application is approved you will receive paperwork and may start operating as a firearms dealer. It is important not to start operations until you have received the proper paperwork.
The typical application process is 60 days from the time that you submit your application. If you have any errors in your application that timeframe will get longer. As long as you have all of your ducks in an order and you cooperate fully with your background investigator you are likely to become a firearms dealer. Good luck in your endeavor.