WASHINGTON, D.C. -(AmmoLand.com)- A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) leak shows that the organization is changing its secret rules regarding guns sellers to make it easier for the government to strip firearms dealers of their federal firearms license (FFL).
In 2020, Gun Owners of America (GOA) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the ATF. The gun-rights group asked the agency to provide a copy of ATF O 5370, entitled “Federal Firearms Administrative Action Policy and Procedures.” This document lays out the administrative remedies for violations found during an ATF inspection of a licensed firearms dealer.
The ATF has long tried to prevent the document from seeing the light of day.
After much stalling, the ATF begrudgingly turned over the heavily redacted version of the document to GOA. Still, the federal agency redacted almost all of the valuable information the FOIA request. Some of the missing information includes what violations could cause the dealer to lose their FFL.
ATF Response ATF O 5370 Federal Firearms Administrative Action Policy and Procedures 1D – Redacted
The ATF did not know when it turned over the document to GOA that AmmoLand News had already obtained an unredacted copy of the secret document from our sources from deep within the Bureau.
Also, in February, the ATF launched the Firearms Compliance Inspections website, which lists some reasons that the ATF will revoke a license of a firearms dealer. The reasons listed on the website are incomplete when compared to the actual Federal Rules detailed in ATF O 5370.
For example, according to the ATF site, if a dealer refuses to allow an Industry Operations Inspector (IOI) to do an inspection, then the FFL would be revoked according to the site. In reality, according to the ATF O 5370 document, that would only be the case during the seller’s business hours that they provided to the ATF during their application phase of their FFL. Suppose an IOI wanted to do an inspection outside the dealer’s business hours. In that case, the document instructs them to call the dealer via phone and arrange a mutually agreeable time to inspect the seller’s books. There are several other reasons the ATF list on its site that would cause the agency to revoke a license.
These include the following:
- Transferring a firearm to a prohibited person.
- Failing to conduct a required background check.
- Falsifying records.
- Failing to respond to a trace request.
The problem is these reasons do not line up with the actual rules laid out in ATF O 5370, entitled “Federal Firearms Administrative Action Policy and Procedures.” [unredacted version embedded below] It seems like the rules on the website have been truncated to remove several qualifiers. A gun buyer can use a concealed handgun permit (CHP) to purchase a firearm instead of the dealer running a background check in many states. If the CHP holder has become a prohibited person since acquiring the permit, it could jeopardize the dealer’s license even though the dealer is complying with the Brady Act. A previous leak obtained by AmmoLand News showed that IOIs have started running retroactive background checks using the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) on gun buyers that purchased firearms using a CHP.
The Actual Federal Rules for revoking a license according to ATF O 5370 are as follows:
- Refused ATF right of entry and inspection during hours of operation at the licensed premise.
- Transferring a firearm to a prohibited person WHILE knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the transferee is a prohibited person
- Failing to conduct a required background check AND the purchaser is prohibited.
- Falsifying records
- Failing to respond to a trace request AND is a repeat violation.
Biden Administration Playing Dirty with ‘AFT’
AmmoLand News first thought that the difference could be an oversight, but our internal ATF contacts have also provided us with a memo, dated July 14, 2021, from Acting Assistant Director (Field Operations) George Lauder to all Special Agents in Charge(SAIC) and all Directors of Industry Operations (DIO) that showed that the differences are not an oversight.
According to the memo, the changes are a part of the Biden “Administration’s Comprehensive Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gun Crime and Ensure Public Safety.”
President Biden has called for a crackdown on “rogue” deal dealers, and the secret changes to the hidden rules seem to be a way of lightening the burden of proof that the government needs to revoke a gun dealer’s license. The changes have been made without any oversight leading a lot in the gun community to wonder if this is another example of an out-of-control agency.
The memo also requires all field divisions to
harass, er.. utilize “Crime Gun Intelligence Analytics (CGIA) and other data-driven tools in determining the prioritization of inspection resources.”
These factors include:
a. The extent to which firearms sold by the dealer are later used in criminal activity;
b. The time between the sale of a firearm and its use in a crime;
c. The number of recoveries associated with shootings, domestic violence, and other violent offenses; and
d. Additional information developed by local law enforcement partners.
AmmoLand News reached out to the ATF for comment but did not get a response before publication.
GOA — ATF FOIA Request ATF O 5370 Federal Firearms Administrative Action Policy and Procedures
ATF Response ATF O 5370 Federal Firearms Administrative Action Policy and Procedures 1D – UNRedacted
About John Crump
John is an NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or www.crumpy.com.
Biden’s ‘AFT’ Secretly Changing Rules To Revoke Firearms Licenses is written by John Crump for www.ammoland.com