ATF Threatens to Prosecute Out-Of-Business Gun Dealers Who Comply with the Law

Internal ATF documents obtained by Gun Owners of America show that the agency, once again, is asserting powers not given it by Congress.

This time, the agency appears to be gearing up to force out-of-business federal firearms licensees (“FFL”) to turn over their remaining firearms in inventory to other dealers — even though federal law explicitly allows former dealers to transfer these firearms to their own personal collection. 

ATF has even threatened prosecution of former dealers who do not comply with ATF’s unlawful requirement.

For years, ATF operated within the rules Congress established.  When an FFL ceases business operations, any firearms remaining in inventory may be transferred either to another dealer or to the licensee’s own personal collection.  Either way, the disposition for each and every firearm must be recorded in the dealer’s “acquisition and disposition” (A&D) book.  The A&D book, along with other records, must then be transferred either to the ATF out-of-business center, or to a successor licensee who takes over the business.

This is the system set up by federal law.  For example, 18 U.S.C. Section 923(c) makes clear that it is perfectly acceptable for a dealer to maintain a “personal collection” of firearms, and even to transfer firearms from business inventory to that collection.  And, of course, once a dealer goes out of business, he is no longer a “licensee” under the Gun Control Act, and has no record-keeping duties under the statute.  He is entirely a private party, and any firearms that have previously become part of his personal collection are treated no differently than for any other gun owner.  Indeed, when it comes to disposing of a personal collection of firearms, 18 U.S.C. Section 921(21)(C) clearly provides that a person may “sell[] all or part of his personal collection of firearms,” without being considered to be engaged in the business, requiring a license.

In other words, federal law explicitly allows a dealer to transfer firearms to his personal collection, which includes any remaining inventory when he goes out of business.

Thereafter, federal law explicitly allows that ex-licensee, now a private party, to sell any and “all” of those firearms without being considered to be “engaged in the business.”

Read more at Ammoland