The bureaucracy that all gun owners and gun retailers know all too well is undergoing some changes. Orchid Advisors has nicely summarized changes to form 4473 the ATF has proposed in the Federal Register.
Here’s a little more perspective from someone who deals with this on a daily basis.
First, you can check out the proposed new form on ATF’s website.
As the Orchid Advisors write-up points out . . .
Changes to the Form 4473 include the following:
- In general, the Draft Form 4473 no longer has references to “See Instruction for…” to highlight on the Form that there is an instruction for the specific box.
- Section A is now the Section identifying the firearm (old Section C). It only contains information on the firearm and the firearm transaction, and does not include the “For Use By Licensee” box, nor the box into which FFLs enter their Name, Address, and FFL number.
- Additionally, where the old Form had 4 line items to enter firearms, the new Form only has 3. There has been a Firearms Transaction Record Continuation Sheet issued as well – which may be viewed here – where quantities of firearms in excess of 3 will be identified.
- Section B is now the Section in which the Transferee enters their personal information (i.e., formerly Section A).
- The “County” box has been revised to include “Parish/Borough”.
- The “Sex” box has been revised to include a third option of “Non-Binary”.
- The “UPIN” box has been revised to include “Appeals Management Database Identification (AMD ID)”.
- The Citizenship information (Country of Citizenship and US-issued alien or admission number) has been moved to precede the prohibitor questions.
- The question asking the Transferee whether they are under indictment or information in any court for a felony has been revised to include: “or are you a current member of the military who has been charged with violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and whose charges have been referred to a General Court-Martial?”.
- The question asking the Transferee whether they have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence has been revised to include: “or are you or have you ever been a member of the military and been convicted of a crime that included, as an element, the use of force against a person as identified in the instructions?”.
- The prohibition questions regarding Citizenship (e.g., renounced US citizenship, illegal alien, etc.) have been moved away from the general Citizenship information, see above.
- The Transferee’s certification date has been split into three boxes for Month / Day / Year
- Section C is now the Section wherein the Transferor records Transferee identification information and NICS / Background check information.
- The “Supplemental Government Issued Documentation” box has been revised to include a statement highlighting the space should also be completed if the photographic identification does not include their full legal name.
- A new box has been created in which the Transferor will record “Official Military Orders Establishing Permanent Change of Station (PCS); PCS Base/City and State; PCS Effective Date; PCS Order Number (if any)”.
- Section D is now the Section wherein the Transferee would sign to recertify that their answers are still true and correct when the transfer of the firearm(s) occur on a different day than the date on which they originally completed and signed the form.
- Section E is new, and is now the Section in which the FFL has the “For Use by Licensee” box, the Name/Address/FFL Number box, and the certification / signature.
- The box for “Transferor/Seller’s Title” has been removed.
Running this down from the top, there will be a TON of eye rolls, but a few of these changes are actually beneficial. Here’s why.
For those of you who aren’t aware, when people cancel/walk away/get denied by NICS or the state POC, the retailer still have to retain the form and fill out the firearms the person attempted to buy.
That means if someone was looking at a Colt Mustang, fills out the 4473 form halfway and reaches a question to which they may have some trouble answering “no” to, and then they put the pen down and leave, the retailer is still on the hook for filling out as much of the form as possible.
Very frequently in busy establishments, this can go sideways because a lot of the less regulatory-minded employees will just shred the form or not fill it out and tuck it into the “no sale” folder we are required to keep on hand. They forget to record the details of the underlying item that was to be transferred.
By making a change that puts the firearm information up front — to be completed before anything else — that eliminates the issue of forgetting to fill out what firearm was transacted.
That has happened to other licensees and even myself in the past. The phone starts ringing, someone sweeps someone out on the range…life happens and we just plain get distracted and forget.
Putting the firearm information as item number one is a good move. It will make bound book entries a lot easier for licensees since the information is up front and not on page three.
Also worthy of note, if you compare the weight/heft of the paper stock that ATF has been using in 2019 vs 2012, you will be able to tell a huge difference. The old 2012-era forms were made of heavier paper stock. Normally this wouldn’t be of note, but the newer lighter stock forms have some problems.
When we make the fold along the perforation to fill out your photo ID info and serial number, very often that’s the beginning of the end – the first page separates and then we have granular data and have to rifle through forms and try to figure out what front page goes to what back section.
The ATF’s requirement in the event pages separate is to staple the form back together. (Staple, not paper clip…failure to staple is a violation that is a disciplinary item at an ATF inspection.)
Moving the firearm data and the buyer’s info onto one page is a good move. I like it.
This is a little different story.
There are a ton of gun buying folks in places with parishes/townships/boroughs that get tripped up with ATF’s designation of “County.” Fixing that after 50+ years counts as progress.
With just under half of the states in this country now recognizing non-binary genders in some fashion — and states issuing government ID that recognizes such — the presentation of photo ID to a firearm retailer that doesn’t conform with the information on the 4473 form presents a paperwork violation when the ATF catches it.
If you give me a choice between making a sale and being yelled at by ATF or not making a sale and avoiding the ATF hassle, I will err to the side of not making the sale and avoiding the hassle. I don’t need to give the ATF a reason to write me up more so than the mistakes I already make.
Now, those who have a non-binary gender designation on their government ID can purchase firearms and the licensees can sell on to them without fear of a report of violation.
The UPIN/Appeals Management Database information (section 17) has been updated. This is fantastic news for those who do not specifically want to go through a UPIN process, but have a common last name that results in delays that go through an appeal.
Moving the country of citizenship up is helpful because on the old form it was buried in the middle and frequently overlooked. At my last IOI (industry operations investigator) meeting, they ran through all my 4473’s and there were about nine times where I didn’t see that the buyer had forgot to answer that. Shame on me, but moving it up should make things a lot clearer for customers and retailers alike.
The issue of military members having been charged with UCMJ/domestic violence issue attempting to buy firearms at retail is NOT something I have run into. But I suppose that if you are an FFL near a military base, this could solve some problems. The change to 21 b. gives some clarity to the issue as well as gives the ATF and the JAG folks a mechanism to prosecute someone who who’s prohibited.
Movement of the renouncing of citizenship/illegal alien question isn’t a big deal, nor is the trifurcation of the date into Month / Day / Year. But this will inevitably infuriate anyone in the military or public safety since nearly all reports are written in Day / Month / Year format and result in confusion/IOI’s writing up retailers for violations.
The only real change I would suggest to the ATF is an improvement to question 21.1.2.
I may be dating myself but back in the old days when I first started working 4473 forms, that question was supposed to be left blank. Since none of my customers ever read the form, it was always answered with a “NO”. The ATF has the authority to discipline us for that since technically we are willfully ignoring errors on the 4473 and not caring about the customer responses.
Since then, ATF has revised the form and questions relating exceptions on nonimmigrant alien sales have gone from “if you are a US citizen, leave this box blank” to “if this does not apply, check N/A” and now we are back to “If you are a US citizen, leave this box blank” again.
We’ve now gone 100% full circle.
My suggestion to ATF, that I’ve already sent in via email is that the tail end to question 21.1.2 that states “(US Citizens/national leave 21.1.2. blank)” should be IN BOLD, all caps or ideally – both! This is a question that is going to trip up every gun buyer in every gun store across the country for 6-7 months after implementation.
That’s my only real, useful input to the process. If all the TTAG readers could echo my sentiments, I’m certain that this will reduce 4473 confusion down the line. You can send your comments to:
ATF Firearms & Explosives Industry Division
99 New York Avenue NE, 6 N–652
Washington, DC 20226
Or via email at [email protected], or by telephone at 202–648–7173
For those who have to use two forms of ID to purchase a firearm or bypass a waiting period, the supplemental box changes don’t havemuch meaning. However, the second change is far more useful to licensees.
If a licensee does any amount of business with military members, there are constant problems/misunderstandings with states of residency and 4473 compliance. I have done my fair share of transactions and every dealer seems to be stumped when someone comes in with an armed forces ID card with their name, rank and serial number with a photo, but no current address.
Retailers can make the sale as long as there is an additional form of government documentation that provides the missing info. No, your lease/Comcast bill/Verizon statement/Bank of America mortgage receipt doesn’t work. They’re not government issued.
Very frequently, permanent change of station orders (PCS) are issued and those orders can be used to determine residency/address.
There’s only one big problem with that. Most dealers have NO IDEA what they’re looking at when presented with PCS paperwork or they don’t know how to do an armed forces service member sale so they deny the transaction as a matter of store policy.
If someone gets orders to move to a new station and live on-base, having a copy of that document with them is critical to a retailer that knows enough and how to make the sale.
Over the years, I’ve had many conversations where someone has had to go back home to get a copy of their orders, and I’ve had folks keep a copy in their wallet and whip it out when they hand back the 4473. That makes my life a lot easier and they don’t have to make a second trip.
By giving the licensee a chance to document PCS, that gives us a better opportunity to address the needs of customers in the armed forces and avoid the wrath of an IOI stickler at the next inspection. Another good change.
This is the new recertification section. Nothing new to discuss there.
This, I really like. We frequently make notes in the “for use by licensee” field of the form since our customer’s handwriting is not always good or they make some changes/additions to their order and the old box was a single line stretched to half a page.
Now, with the larger field, we are able to better document transactions to prevent hiccups down the line. The elimination of the job title for the seller is a plus. I’ve never quite understood the point of that, but I suppose it may have had a purpose at one time or another.
Those are my thoughts as a highly regulated industry paper pusher. Hopefully the changes don’t trip up too many of y’all when you go in and pick up a new gun when the updated forms are in use.
Please — on behalf of every licensee who gets yelled at by the ATF for doing forms wrong — read the form carefully before you put pen to paper. Stop and ask questions if you’re not sure of something. You’ll be saving your local retailer an earful the next time they get a visit from the ATF.