This is not an all-encompassing “How To” on getting your 01 FFL, but rather some things that I noted that may help you along the way. This is intended to point you in the right direction and give a little guidance, but please check your local and state laws and requirements for anything mentioned in this post. One of the biggest scams out there IMO are those, “How to get your FFL packages”. So don’t waste your time or money on those because you can complete the whole process yourself with a little bit of time and some patience.
Who can get a license as listed on the ATF website:
The ATF will approve the application if the applicant:
• Is 21 years of age or older;
• Is not prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing firearms or ammunition;
• Has not willfully violated the GCA or its regulations;
• Has not willfully failed to disclose material information or willfully made false statements concerning material facts in connection with his application;
• Has premises for conducting business or collecting; and
• The applicant certifies that:
1. The business to be conducted under the license is not prohibited by State or local law in the place where the licensed premises is located;
2. Within 30 days after the application is approved the business will comply with the requirements of State and local law applicable to the conduct of the business;
3. The business will not be conducted under the license until the requirements of State and local law applicable to the business have been met;
4. The applicant has sent or delivered a form to the chief law enforcement officer where the premises is located notifying the officer that the applicant intends to apply for a license; and
5. Secure gun storage or safety devices will be available at any place in which firearms are sold under the license to persons who are not licensees (“secure gun storage or safety device” is defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(34)).
First and foremost to become a FFL means you must “actively engage in the business”. What that means to the ATF, who knows. There is not a magic number of firearms you have to sell or transfer according to an IOI, but you have to try and make a living from your FFL. Now if you sell one firearm to your buddy and have 20 transferred to you in a year’s time, you may run into an issue with the ATF according to my IOI, but it is different with each Industry Operations Investigator (IOI) hence the no magic number statement. Also, you have to sell in a variety of other ways and cannot just sell strictly at gun shows according to the ATF; otherwise you will not be approved.
So once you have decided that you will actively engage in the business and you are ready to fill out the paperwork. Before you rush to fill out your paperwork and send the ATF your hard earned money, a quick check with your local zoning office, zoning board or whatever your city or county may call it, can save you a lot of time, money, and frustration. The ATF WILL NOT
approve your application if you do not meet local zoning requirements. This means if you want to be a home based FFL and your city does not allow a business in a residential area, you will have to fight to change the zoning (good luck) or find a commercial place to do business (better option, IMO). Some cities or counties may allow home based businesses unless you are in the firearms industry and then the rules change for some strange reason. So please do your homework because there would be nothing worse than sending in all your required paperwork, the $200 fee, and the finding out your city will not allow it.
Filling out the application that is found on the ATF website is fairly simple, but make sure you send in all the required items (application, (1) set of fingerprints, (2) passport photos, certificate of compliance, and $200 fee) at one time to avoid further delays. The photo needed for the application is the passport type and fingerprint cards can be ordered from the ATF’s distribution center (linked below) but most sheriff departments have them on hand. One copy goes to ATF; one goes to your local chief of police (other FFLs recommend a cover letter introducing yourself and business to the CLEO, but that is up to you), and one copy for your records. The fee is taken out almost immediately, but the application can take up to 60 days and often does (if not longer in some cases). I do recommend putting the FFL in the name of your company on your application so you can ensure that you keep your personal assets and business assets separated in case of a lawsuit, etc. (Incorporating is discussed below).
• ATF F 5310.12 (Form 7) — Application for Federal Firearm License (FFL)
• ATF F 5330.20 — Certification of Compliance
• FD–258 (Fingerprint Card) Instructions and Example
- ATF Distribution Center
PLEASE NOTE ASSEMBLY OF AN AR FOR THE PURPOSE OF RESALE IS CONSIDERED MANUFACTURING BY ATF STANDARDS AND REQUIRES A TYPE 07 MANUFACTURING FFL.
Type of FFLs can be found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Firearms_License
Establishing Your Business Design:
There are several types of businesses and each has their own pros and cons, the link covers the differences: https://www.incorporate.com/starting_a_business.html
. Becoming a LLC, S-Corp, etc, varies by state and can be done on your own, through the Secretary of State’s office if desired or through companies like LegalZoom for a nominal fee. Please consult a lawyer if you are unsure. Part of becoming a business is taxes. State, Local, Federal taxes, etc all apply to running a legitimate business. You can apply for your Federal Employee Identification Number here: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=102767,00.html
and even if you do not have employees, this number will be needed later on. Please consult a tax professional if you are unsure. In addition to the aforementioned requirements you may have state, county, and city business licenses that may/will be needed. If you are unsure that you will be approved for the FFL you can obtain a letter from your city stating that they will issue your business a license provided that you meet XYZ requirements to provide to the ATF at the time of your interview. Each situation is different and unique so as mentioned seek information locally. You have 30 days as mentioned above to become compliant with local licenses so there is no need to rush out and spend the money on licenses if you are unsure about your FFL being approved.
The ATF Interview:
The interview sounds a lot scarier than it really is. The main purpose of the interview is to inform you of the paperwork procedures, rules, regulations, etc, and go over how to fill the pounds of paperwork out as well as recording keeping requirements. Allow for about 2 hours for the interview, although it may take a little less or longer depending on your IOI. From my experience the IOI I interviewed was very friendly, knowledgeable and seemed like a good guy (YMMV). Write down any questions you may have prior to the meeting and barring something really crazy on your part, when you are done with the interview the license is sent to your place of business within a month (according to the IOIs) but it usually takes about 10 days or so.
Receiving Your License:
Once your license arrives in the mail DO NOT SIGN IT! Make copies of your license and sign the copy not the original, keep the original in a safe place. I also recommend having a “FILE COPY ONLY” stamp for all copies or scanning a signed copy and adding “FILE COPY ONLY” on it via Microsoft paint or another similar program. All distributors and manufacturers will want a signed copy which normally can be faxed or emailed to them. Some may ask for you to send the signed copy to them via snail mail after you have faxed or emailed it in which is why you don’t sign the original.
To get started with distributors and manufacturers for home based FFLs and commercial based FFLs see the linked thread below. There may be other distributors, but this should give you a decent start. Some distributors and manufacturers may require a minimum first order, but most do not. Good luck on your new endeavor.
Distributors for Home Based FFLs
Additional Distributors for Storefront FFLs:
Acusport, Jerry’s Sports Center, Camfour, Lew Horton, Bill Hicks, Ellet Brothers, Sports South.