Internal ATF Document Reveals Standards For Administrative Actions RE: FFL’s


Internal ATF Document Reveals Standards For Administrative Actions RE: FFL’s

Washington, DC-( Gun Owners of American have supplied an unreleased ATF document entitled “Federal Firearms Administrative Action Policy and Procedure” to AmmoLand News for review.

The document (embedded below) provides ATF inspectors with guidelines for “administrative remedies” for violations found during an inspection of a federal firearms licensees (FFLs). These rules went into effect on February 21st of 2017. The rules will run to February 21st of 2022.

The document outlines the minimum guidelines for the ATF inspectors. It doesn’t cover every scenario that the inspectors might find at the FFL location, but the field offices should try to stay to the order as much as possible. If the document doesn’t cover a scenario, then the appropriate action for a violation is left up to the field division’s Director of Industry Operations (DIO).

The document defines administrative actions as a warning letter, area supervisor warning conference, DIO warning conference, revocation of the FFL, or a fine and suspension of the FFL. The document makes clear that a “Report of Violation” is not an administrative action. It defines it as a “documentation of inspection findings.”

When the ATF agent finds a violation, the document states that the agent must consider the following questions even when the offense appears willful:

  • Is the FFL willing/able to achieve and maintain voluntary compliance?
  • Will the continued operation of the FFL, pose a threat to public safety or contribute to violent or other criminal activities?
  • Is the FFL taking responsibility for violations and willing to work with ATF to correct them?
  • Does the FFL understand the importance of firearms traceability and GCA records in protecting the public and reducing violent crime?
  • Do violations have a nexus to persons prohibited from possessing firearms?

The warning letter is the least extreme of the administrative actions. Some of the things that an FFL can do that would get the ATF to issue a warning letter are things like the FFL failure to record the sale or acquisition of firearms in more than 5% of their transfers. If the inspector finds that more than 5% of the buyers fail to sign and date the 4473, a warning letter will be issued. If the dealer records the wrong ID of more than 10%, then that is also a warning letter.

One other violation that would make the ATF issue a warning letter is if the dealer sells a long gun to an out of state resident that violates state law. The document doesn’t affirm the law of which state the dealer needs to break. It could be the dealer’s home state or the buyer’s sate, but it doesn’t make it clear.

An Area Supervisor Warning Conference is for the area supervisor to decide if the FFL will be able to comply with the laws. The ATF usually takes this administrative action when a warning letter received within the last five years did not spur the dealer into compliance with the law.

The ATF will also choose this administrative action if the FFL violate laws such as transferring handguns (including non-rifle/shotgun lower receivers) to out of state residents. Another violation that will get the FFL an Area Supervisor Warning Conference is they do not report the theft or loss of a firearm.

If the ATF issues a DIO Warning Conference, then the dealer is well on their way to losing their FFL. If a DIO issues this administrative action, it means that they believe that the dealer willfully broke the law. If the dealer doesn’t reply to the conference request, then the DIO may revoke their FFL. This conference is the last chance for the dealer to prove that they can comply with the law.

The document. Internal ATF Document Standards For Administrative Actions ends with stating that the special agent in charge (SAC) may establish additional controls in their division.

ATF O 5370.1C – Internal ATF Document: Standards For Administrative Actions

About John Crump

John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%’ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on leftist deplatforming methods and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, on Facebook at realjohncrump, or at