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March 25th, 2013

ATF Provides Answers to Top 10 Firearms Questions

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ATF

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), receives hundreds of telephone and electronic inquiries every day. In an effort to provide individuals with the most up-to-date information, ATF has compiled a list of the Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions. ATF has provided these questions, along with official ATF-sourced answers, in a 4-page PDF file you can download.

CLICK HERE to DOWNLOAD ATF Top 10 Questions and Answers PDF file.

The #1 most commonly asked question is whether a person barred by law from possessing a “firearm” can legally own a black-powder muzzle-loading gun. The answer to that question is quite lengthy, so we can’t include it here. But we have reprinted below the second, third, and fourth most-asked questions, along with the ATF answers. Download the PDF file to read the remaining questions and answers.

2. May I lawfully transfer a firearm to a friend who resides in a different State?
Under Federal law, an unlicensed individual is prohibited from transferring a firearm to an individual who does not reside in the State where the transferee resides. Generally, for a person to lawfully transfer a firearm to an unlicensed person who resides out of State, the firearm must be shipped to a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) within the recipient’s State of residence. He or she may then receive the firearm from the FFL upon completion of an ATF Form 4473 and a NICS background check. More information can be obtained on the ATF website at www.atf.gov and www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/unlicensed-persons.html. The GCA provides an exception from this prohibition for temporary loans or rentals of firearms for lawful sporting purposes. Thus, … a friend visiting you may borrow a firearm from you to go hunting. Another exception is provided for transfers of firearms to nonresidents to carry out a lawful bequest or acquisition by intestate succession. This exception would authorize the transfer of a firearm to a nonresident who inherits a firearm under the will of a decedent. See 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(5).

3. May I lawfully transfer a firearm to a resident of the same State in which I reside?
Any person may sell a firearm to an unlicensed resident of the State where he resides as long as he does not know or have reasonable cause to believe the person is prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms under Federal law. There may be State laws that regulate interstate firearm transactions. Any person considering acquiring a firearm should contact his or her State Attorney General’s Office to inquire about the laws and possible State or local restrictions. A list of State Attorney General contact numbers may be found at www.naag.org.

4. How do I register my firearm or remove my name from a firearms registration?
There is no Federal registration requirement for most conventional sporting firearms. Only those firearms subject to the National Firearms Act (NFA) (e.g., machineguns, short-barrel firearms, silencers, destructive devices, any other weapons) must be registered with ATF. For information on the registration and transfer provisions of the National Firearms Act, please refer to the ATF NFA Handbook at www.atf.gov/publications/firearms/nfa-handbook/ or contact the ATF NFA Branch at 304-616-4500. Firearms registration may be required by State or local law. Any person considering acquiring a firearm should contact his or her State Attorney General’s Office to inquire about the laws and possible State or local restrictions. A list of State Attorney General contact numbers may be found at www.naag.org.

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June 2nd, 2010

ATF Reverses Policy on Gun Shipments for Testing and Review

ATF logoReversing an interpretation of the Gun Control Act (GCA) that has been on the books for more than four decades, on May 20th the ATF posted a New Ruling declaring that ANY shipment of a firearm by a manufacturer (FFL) to an authorized agent or contractor (e.g., an engineering firm, patent lawyer, testing lab, gun writer, etc.) is to be treated as a “transfer” under the Gun Control Act of 1968. As a consequence, legitimate business-related shipments will now require the recipient to complete a Form 4473 and undergo a Brady criminal background check. And, in some jurisdictions, a testing engineer or patent lawyer will have to sit out a waiting period before they can access the firearm and start working with it.

The 5/20/2010 ruling states: “The temporary assignment of a firearm by an FFL to its unlicensed agents, contractors, volunteers, or any other person who is not an employee of the FFL, even for bona fide business purposes, is a transfer or disposition for purposes of the Gun Control Act, and, accordingly, the FFL must contact NICS for a background check, record a disposition entry, and complete an ATF Form 4473.”

ATF officials have acknowledged this is a radical change from ATF’s long-standing interpretation that shipments to agents were not a “transfer” under the Gun Control Act that was set forth in a 1969 Ruling (“Shipment or Delivery of Firearms By Licensees to Employees, Agents, Representatives, Writers and Evaluators.”) and further clarified in a 1972 Ruling. ATF is now saying that its own long-standing rulings, issued shortly after the Gun Control Act was enacted, were wrong. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) believes this new interpretation should be challenged:

ATF should be required to explain why it took 42 years to decide that its original understanding and interpretation of the Gun Control Act is now somehow wrong. ATF appears to be under the mistaken impression that the Brady Act of 1993 changed what constitutes a “transfer” under the Gun Control Act. Even if this were true — and it is not — then ATF should be required to explain why it took 17 years to figure this out. ATF itself admits that neither the Gun Control Act nor the Brady Act defines “transfer”. There is simply nothing in the Brady Act or is there any other legal reason that compels ATF to now reject 40 years of precedent.

For more than four decades manufacturers have shipped firearms to agents for bona fide business purposes, such as testing, engineering studies, or reviews. According to the NSSF: “ATF is unable to identify a single instance during the past 40 years where a single firearm shipped to an [authorized] agent … was used in a crime.” Changing the rule on shipping to a gun writer, patent lawyer, or testing lab will only waste time and money, and make it harder to engineer improvements in firearms designs. We wonder if this new policy was “cooked up” under pressure from political leaders in Washington.

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