Federal Gun Smith License Requirements

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As a result of the Gun Control Act of 1968, any individual or company that manufactures and sells firearms or ammunition is legally required to obtain a Federal Firearms License (FFL) from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The Application

Individuals who wish to obtain a FFL must complete the necessary applications and submit the required paperwork to the ATF.

The FFL application requires information such as your name, address, social security number, citizenship status and criminal history. It also requires all potential licensees to submit a variety of documentation. Necessary documents include fingerprint cards, two photographs for identification purposes and a list of “responsible persons.”

The ATF “defines a responsible person as a sole proprietor, partner, or anyone having the power to direct the management, policies, and practices of the business as it pertains to firearms. In a corporation, this includes corporate officers, shareholders, board members, or any other employee with the legal authority described above.”

Once the fingerprint cards are reviewed for clarity, the ATF will perform a background check on all “responsible persons” identified on the application.

In-person Interview

Following the initial application, the ATF sends the applications for new licenses to the field office nearest to you. An “Industry Operations Investigator” will schedule and conduct an in-person interview with you. The IOI will perform an inspection of your premises and plans for operation, verify the information on your initial application, and discuss all federal, state and local requirements for your prospective business.

Issuing the License

Following the interview, the IOI will prepare a report and recommend acceptance or denial of your license application. According to the ATF, “some reasons for denial may include failure to comply with State or local law” including zoning violations or “evidence of previous willful violations of the Gun Control Act or falsification of the application.”

Once the IOI’s supervisor has reviewed the report and made his own recommendation, assuming that all background checks met necessary requirements and “your business address and proposed business operations are in compliance with State and local law,” the ATF will issue a federal firearms license.

The process is legally required to take 60 days or less from the date your initial, correctly completed application was received.


About the Author

Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.

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