A Sampling of Individual Testimonies Regarding ATF Copying of 4473s
NOTE: All the names, addresses and dates below are redacted, in compliance
with the wishes of those GOA members who forwarded their testimonies to us.
I am a gun dealer. Recently the [ATF] agents have begun recording the submission of information on the 4473 forms. “Quality and customer assurance” are the reasons given for these recordings. I have asked how long these recordings are kept and who has access to them. I was told they were kept indefinitely was not told who had access. My question is how is this different than storing the information on gun owners. Is that not illegal? Hope you can look into this for me. Just does not feel right. Thank you.
We have a gun store in where the ATF here … removed and had destroyed all paperwork (paper work of the corporation including customers receipts, utility bills, 4473’s, A&D Books and personal paperwork). ATF also removed the video equipment in which would have incriminated them.
Years ago I worked in a local gun shop. The ATF entered to do an inspection. They removed some 4473s and made a huge stink of missing periods or abbreviated state names — like — instead of and the like. The owner wound up in court explaining each and every clerical error.
During the ATF inspection the agent informed the owner that his intent was to shut down every gun shop within his region, and that they were merely waiting on the directive from the President. The owner promptly shut down and sold his business.
I perform IT support for a local gun store, which I do not wish to name. (They pay me well, and I don’t want retribution to them for these comments). I am willing to report this as long as I remain anonymous. They do a reasonably high volume of firearms sales, and I have assisted through 3 of the last ATF “audits.”
In the first audit, the ATF agents requested copies of EVERY invoice containing a firearm and the full gun log. I received the support call when the printer died trying to print a 37,000-page report for the agents.
When the agents learned that the store had an electronic gun log, they requested a complete copy electronically. This audit found only 1 clerical error in over 35 thousand transactions. The next year’s audit went smoother, as the store owner was prepared to produce the reports electronically. In this audit, there were no errors found (clerical or otherwise). Because the ATF decided that a “no error” audit was impossible, they sent a team of 4 agents to the store for the next year’s audit, and they were on site for over 3 weeks.
They pulled every 4473 and invoice, and the gun log, and compared them all manually. They were given free reign at the store, and desks to work in. They insisted that their work through this “audit” be unobserved.
Again, they copied the gun log, it is suspected they scanned all the 4473s, and at the very least, entered all the information into a database or spreadsheet, so they could correlate their report. Their report found 2 errors — in tens of thousands of transactions. In one, the address on the 4473 did not match the driver’s license of the purchaser, and in the second, the county of residence was left off the form. In two cases, the ATF agents “implied” dire consequences with non-compliance to their requests.
I was told first hand by the owner of that the ATF entered his firearms store and attempted to use the 4473s from his firearms sales activities to “make a list of all male Hispanics that had purchased a firearm during a certain period.” He informed the ATF agent that he could not do this and that he was breaking the law by attempting to make the list. The ATF agent informed the store owner that “he was the federal government and he can do whatever he pleases.”
At this point the store owner told the ATF agent that if he attempted to leave the store with the list he would use deadly force to prevent his departure. I was told that the ATF agent called his office and other higher ranking ATF agents arrived to smooth things over with this store owner. The store owner’s first name is and is located at
I am a 01FFL. At my last compliance check, the ATF agent was taking digital photos of records. I do not believe he took pics of 4473’s but did take pics of records, such as bound book, personal firearms log. Why the personal log if not for future registration? They contain name and address, firearm make, model, serial #, caliber, quantities. While they are pleasant and polite during every visit (exception was one ordered by ), I don’t trust them at all, my gut feeling screams out.
If you want a true HORROR story of government abuses of NICS records, their illegal/unconstitutional misuse (by state & local LE, and a public employer, and a federal FUSION center) and the destruction of a person’s professional career/livelihood (and personal life) for the simple exercise of the Second Amendment, I recommend GOA take a hard look at the ….
Specifically, per GOA’s request for ATF’s recent unlawful copying of all FFL dealer 4473 forms and records, I, as plaintiff pro se (by no fault of my own) in the above identified federal case , personally observed two federal agents at the discussing the fact “the ATF was in town,” meaning regionally in . I witnessed this conversation at the Clerk of the Court’s office, approximately ago.
Following this event, by regular visits to local gun stores and gun shows, I have learned the ATF has apparently been in the region for the purpose to copy and record all Form 4473 records. I am not sure how far back the ATF’s “investigation” goes, or for what specific purpose to infringe on the rights and privacy of law-abiding, legal gun owners/purchasers and Second Amendment supporters/advocates. I personally observed a likely ATF vehicle and agent at a gas station in , during this same approximate period. Federal agents with big handguns and lots of ammo magazines under their sports-jackets stick out like a sore thumb in .
Please contact me if you have questions or require additional information concerning this information. Thank you.
First of all please don’t use my name or other information and that of my ex co-worker…. I received [the email below] from a former coworker and we’re both retired LEO’s, Law Enforcement Officers. We have been talking about the Gun Control issues over the last several months and here are some seriously concerning emails I have gotten about what is happening on the inside. These troubling remarks are an indicator that the government who stated they were not going to collect and store information on gun purchases are doing exactly the opposite and have been doing this for some time.
Since the Form 4473 was introduced and adopted by my state I am concerned that what is said in these emails is true. The Form 4473 is required to be kept for 20 years and it may even exceed that. And with the new online version via the ATF — http://www.atf.gov/applications/e4473/ — you can see this information will be stored indefinitely and placed into a database for easy access by our government.
And since they can’t seem to keep records safe who knows how many other agencies, hackers, or governments will acquire these records. Look at all the military records which were lost/stolen in .
e are blatant rights violations and a serious problem with these records for which the government has access to. This legislation needs to be revamped so that after a background check is completed the form 4473 paperwork gets stored for three months-time and once that time limit expires they are destroyed, and the governments are not permitted to access them without a search warrant signed by a judge in accordance with the U.S. Constitution as stated. And all rejected form 4473’s are placed into a separate file for law enforcement to conduct further background investigations and for those trying to obtain a firearm illegally 100% prosecution should be mandatory in accordance with current laws.
Here [is] the email:
“My neighbor’s kid is an agent working down south. I talk to him every so often and he tells me this is going to pass. They have been compiling a database of everyone who bought assault weapons over the past four years. They also have local agents making copies of all gun store surveillance cameras and have had agents photographing everyone going into gun shows where a lot of weapons are being sold under the radar….”
Good luck with the fight and hope these emails will provide insight into the nefarious activities of our government and the Anti-Gun crowds’ unconstitutional slow erosion of or 2nd Amendment Rights.
I imagine that most gun owners don’t know that the info from 4473 forms has been used as a form of registration, contrary I believe to the mandate of Congress that this info was to be kept for 90 days only. If I am wrong please correct me. I know this to be true because I was contacted by two law officials in about concerning a that was used in a felony. I was assured I had done nothing wrong, but they told me the history of the revolver from the sale in to me. I bought the gun from a dealer that had let his FFL go and turned in his paper work. I bought this gun prior to .
I had an FFL which I sold guns from my home, it was all legal. When the taxes and business started to lose me money instead of make me money I closed it down. I was instructed by the ATF to send them all of the 4473’s that I had accumulated. I sent them in after being told it was the law, and I didn’t want any trouble.
Addendum from Gun Owners of America
In the last two examples, the ATF told out-of-business dealers to turn in their 4473 forms to the Bureau. The problem is that it does not appear that the ATF ever notifies dealers that ATF can NOT order these records to be turned over to them.
Although the 1968 Gun Control Act allowed dealers going out of business to turn over the records (including their 4473s and bound books) to the ATF, the McClure-Volkmer Act of 1986 gave dealers the option of turning those records over to an active dealer. In particular, 18 U.S.C. 926(a)(3) says in part:
No such rule or regulation prescribed after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions be established….