Michigan does not have specific laws regarding obtaining a federal firearms license (FFL). The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) under the U.S. Department of Justice issues and regulates FFLs. Applicants must meet the Bureau's extensive requirements when filling out the application.
The agency will conduct an in-person interview and background check of the prospective business owner. There are several types of FFLs, depending on the type of firearms business the individual enters into, and they vary in price.
Federal Firearms License
A federal firearms license (FFL) allows persons to manufacture firearms and ammunition and enables them to sell guns among states or within a state. The U.S. requires individuals who wish to pursue these firearms industry activities to possess an FFL in accordance with the 1968 Gun Control Act (GCA).
Before the GCA, the Federal Firearms Act of 1938 required manufacturers and sellers to have a license. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) issues and regulates FFLs.
There are several types of FFLs:
- Type 01: Dealer in Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices.
- Type 02: Pawnbroker in Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices.
- Type 03: Collector of Curios and Relics.
- Type 06: Manufacturer of Ammunition for Firearms Other Than Ammunition for Destructive Devices or Armor Piercing Ammunition.
- Type 07: Manufacturer of Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices.
- Type 08: Importer of Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices or Ammunition for Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices, or Ammunition Other Than Armor Piercing Ammunition.
- Type 09: Dealer in Destructive Devices.
- Type 10: Manufacturer of Destructive Devices, Ammunition for Destructive Devices or Armor Piercing Ammunition.
- Type 11: Importer of Destructive Devices, Ammunition for Destructive Devices or Armor Piercing Ammunition.
Federal Requirements for an FFL
The ATF has certain requirements for those seeking an FFL to purchase firearms. They must:
- Be at least 21 years old.
- Not willfully violate the Gun Control Act or its regulations.
- Not fail to reveal material information or make false statements regarding their application.
- Have a location to conduct business.
- Not be prohibited from possessing, receiving, shipping or transporting guns and ammunition.
The applicant must also certify that:
- The business they conduct under the FFL is not prohibited by state or local law in its location.
- The business will be in total compliance with state and local law within 30 days of the application's approval.
- They will not conduct business under the FFL until they meet state and local ordinances.
- They will send or deliver notification to law enforcement agencies in their location, informing that agency of their FFL application.
- They will have secure gun storage or safety devices available where firearms are sold to non-FFL license holders.
Applying for an FFL Dealer License
To apply for an FFL, individuals send a completed Application for License (FFL) - ATF Form 7/7CR to the P.O. box address on the form with an application fee payable by check, credit card or money order. They cannot send cash.
The fee depends on the license type and ranges from $30 to $200. All fees must be paid when applying. Payment of an application fee does not guarantee its approval. The state of Michigan may also require fees to start a firearms business.
Initial Review Process
After processing the application fee, the Federal Firearms Licensing Center (FFLC) will enter the application into its database for review. All required supporting materials, such as photographs and fingerprint cards, are part of the review.
The FFLC conducts a background check on all responsible persons – individuals who direct a firearms business' activities – listed on the application. They will complete Part B of the Responsible Person Questionnaire.
All license types, with the exception of Type 03: Collector of Curios and Relics are subject to in-person interviews. Therefore, the FFLC office will send the application to an ATF field office covering the business' location.
FFL Holder Interview Process
After the ATF field office receives the application, a field office supervisor will assign an Industry Operations Investigator (IOI) to conduct an in-person interview with the applicant.
During the interview, the IOI discusses requirements on the local, state and federal levels with the applicant and goes over their application to ensure everything is correct. Then the IOI prepares their report and makes a recommendation regarding license approval.
FFL License Approval and Issuance
If the applicant's background check is clean, and the business complies with state and local laws, the FFLC will complete its review and issue the FFL. The denial of an application can occur for a number of reasons – the business did not comply with state or local laws; there are violations of the Gun Control Act; or the applicant falsified information on the application.
The review process takes about 60 days from when the FFLC receives the application, if the applicant has correctly filled in all the necessary information.
Michigan Gun Dealer Requirements
While Michigan has no specific laws on obtaining an FFL, a business owner who deals in firearms or ammunition must keep strict records of all transactions in accordance with to state law. Business owners must record all sales as they face a possible audit of their paperwork by BATFE.
Michigan firearms dealers must be 21 years of age or older and have no criminal history. Their business must be secure and adhere to state and municipal laws, such as zoning requirements. Dealers in Michigan must be U.S. residents. If they were in the military, they must have had an honorable discharge. They may not be a psychological patient or a controlled substance user.
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives: How to Become a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL)
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives: Application for Federal Firearms License
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives: Part B - Responsible Person Questionnaire
- Gun Rights Attorneys: How To Get An FFL License In Michigan
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives: Fact Sheet - Federal Firearms and Explosives Licenses by Types
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.