ATF Soliciting Comments on Proposed Revisions to the Firearms Transaction Record “4473”

ATF opened the comment period to the proposed changes on the 4473 on April 7 and is accepting comments until June 6, 2016. Link to the Official Document. The proposed ATF 4473 can be found here. I encourage you to review the proposed 4473 and submit comments to help improve the form. You may submit comments by emailing Carolyn King, Firearms Industry Programs Branch

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There are a few notable changes on the form, some of which the customer will be met with and others for the dealers.

Changes the Individual will See

Notably at the top of the form in bold text the following language appears.

Prepare in original only at the licensed premises (“licensed premises” includes business temporarily conducted from a qualifying gun show or event in the same State in which the licensed premises is located) unless the transaction qualifies under 18 U.S.C. 922(c).

Dealers are only permitted to conduct firearm transactions from their licensed premises or a qualifying gun show/event unless the transaction qualifies under 18 U.S.C. § 922(c) which has a number of requirements.

Box 1 now has instructions for the Transferee to include a Jr., Sr., etc. if applicable. Additionally, there are now instructions to insert the acronym “IO” if the individual’s legal name is only an initial.

The instruction box in 10.b states “In addition to ethnicity, select one or more race in 10.b. Both 10.a. and 10.b. must be answered.” A number of individuals skip or miss box 10.a when filling out the 4473 due to the appearance of it being one question.

11.d “Are you a fugitive from justice?” contains some interesting language in the instructions.

Fugitive from Justice: Any person who has fled from any State
to avoid prosecution for a felony or a misdemeanor; or any person who leaves the State to avoid giving testimony in any criminal proceeding. The term also includes any person who knows that misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against such person and who leaves the State of prosecution.

This seemingly suggests that if an individual were to cross state lines, even with the intent to return to their state while charges were pending, they are now a fugitive from justice for the purposes of the 4473. The potential implications of this interpretation are far reaching.


11.e now contains the following language “Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”

11.f refers individuals to the instructions for what it means to be adjudicated mentally defective rather than leaving some of the language in the question box.

Box 12 is now the country of citizenship, having been moved from Box 14 on the old form. The old 11.j, 11.k, 11.l and 12 have been combined into subsections in the new box 12. Of note, the language for the new box 12.c reads “Are you an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States?” (Italics added).

Changes the Dealer and Employees will See

Box 19.g has created an optional field to include the name of the FFL employee completing the NICS Check.

Box 20 (the old Box 22) has changed a bit. It now reads “No NICS check was required because a background check was completed during the NFA approval process on the individual who will receive the NFA firearm(s), as reflected on the approved NFA application.”

The instructions for this question shed a bit more light.

Questions 20 and 21. NICS EXCEPTIONS: A NICS check is not required if the transfer qualifies for any of the exceptions in 27 CFR 478.102(d). Generally these include: (a) transfers of National Firearms Act firearms to an individual who has undergone a background check during the NFA approval process; (b) transfers where the transferee/buyer has presented the licensee with a permit or license that allows the transferee/buyer to possess, acquire, or carry a firearm, and the permit has been recognized by ATF as a valid alternative to the NICS check requirement; or (c) transfers certified by ATF as exempt because compliance with the NICS check requirements is impracticable. If the transfer qualifies for one of these exceptions, the licensee must obtain the documentation required by 27 CFR 478.131. A firearm must not be transferred to any transferee/buyer who fails to provide such documentation.

A NICS check must be conducted if an NFA firearm has been approved for transfer to a trust, or to a legal entity such as a corporation, and no background check was conducted as part of the NFA approval process on the individual who will receive the firearm. Individuals who have undergone a background check during the NFA application process are listed on the approved NFA transfer form.

This still causes an issue for dealers in PA who don’t have access to the NICS system as the state law is very explicit in what PICS can be utilized for. Perhaps ATF will be forthcoming with information to licensees in PA on how to obtain a NICS account in order to access NICS for such purposes.

New for Section D where the firearms to be transferred are listed is the instruction “Must Be Completed By Transferor /Seller Even If The Firearm(s) is Not Transferred”. It now also directs dealers to list a model (“If Designated”).

The reminder to complete the Multiple Purchase of Handguns within 5 Consecutive Business days has been moved immediately below the listing of the firearms.

For Pawn Brokers the 4473 requires that a box be checked if any part of the transaction is a pawn redemption and a line number is to be listed.

The 4473 now has a check box for licensees to utilize if the transaction is to facilitate a private party transfer rather than having to write it in the field that is for use by the licensee. That field has been reduced in size as a result.

Lastly, the certification signed by the Transferor has changed. Of note is the language:

Unless this transaction has been denied or cancelled, I further certify on the basis of—(1)the transferee’s/buyer’s responses in Section A (and Section C, if applicable); (2) my verification of the identification recorded in question 18 (and my re-verification at the time of transfer, if Section C was completed); and (3) the information in the current ATF publication “State Laws and Published Ordinances” — it is my belief that it is not unlawful for me to sell, deliver, transport, or otherwise dispose of the firearm(s) listed on this form to the person identified in Section A.”

This change was likely the result of a conversation between Chief Counsel Joshua Prince and Alphonso Hughes, Chief of the Firearms and Explosives Service Division of ATF.

All in all, the changes to the 4473 appear to be helpful to the individual filling out the form as well as the dealer. There are a few changes that ATF could make in order to make the transfer process easier for individuals and dealers.

Currently, there is no box for an individual or dealer to check if the person is picking up the firearm on behalf of a corporation or other legal entity. While it is legal to do so, ATF has provided no examples or forms for dealers to utilize. This simple inclusion on the form would be beneficial to both dealers and individuals picking up firearms on behalf of corporations or other legal entities.

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17 thoughts on “ATF Soliciting Comments on Proposed Revisions to the Firearms Transaction Record “4473”

    1. I saw something related to this earlier today. I can’t seem to locate the article or publication again. However, I was able to find the following.

      From ATF’s website:

      Form 4473 has included a question on race since it was established in 1968. ATF amended Form 4473 in 2001 to add ethnicity to the race question. In April 2012 to meet the requirements of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regarding the format in which government forms ask about race and ethnicity the two questions were separated. OMB’s standards for race and ethnicity questions require agencies to ask both race and ethnicity in a specific manner.

      OMB published guidance to agencies regarding the adoption of these standards in 2000, but permitted ATF to continue using its existing form until 2012, when it required ATF to make changes to the format of the questions during the standard Paperwork Reduction Act approval process. To comply with OMB guidance, question 10 on Form 4473 was divided into 10a (Ethnicity) and 10b (Race); they are not a new requirement that prospective firearms purchasers provide additional information regarding race or ethnicity.


  1. Ill Look It Over…Bob Grimes, Suffolk, Va.

    —————————————–From: “Prince Law Offices, P.C.” To: Cc: Sent: Tue, 12 Apr 2016 23:00:19 +0000 Subject: [New post] ATF Soliciting Comments on Proposed Revisions to the Firearms Transaction Record “4473”

    Adam Kraut, Esq. posted: “ATF opened the comment period to the proposed changes on the 4473 on April 7 and is accepting comments until June 6, 2016. Link to the Official Document. The proposed ATF 4473 can be found here. I encourage you to review the proposed 4473 and submit comme”


  2. The certification statement for questions 34-37 (33-36 on current form) requires that the FFL employee rely on “the current ATF publication ‘State Laws and Published Ordinances'”.

    The current version of that publication (31st Edition 2010-2011) only contained ordinances in effect through January 2011.

    Without an immediate update to the ATF publication “State Laws and Published Ordinances”, an FFL employee would not be able to truthfully certify to that statement.

    It’s been more than 5 years since an update has been published for what should be an annual publication.


    1. Why would an employee not be able to truthfully certify that statement? They are certifying that based on the information provided in Section A (where the purchaser fills out), verification of ID and the information provided in the current publication, that it is not unlawful.

      You are correct that the current (and after looking the revised form) requires the employee to rely on the current publication. However, if that is ATF’s current publication, regardless of how dated, it is the current publication.

      Very interesting point though and worthy of raising in a comment.


      1. I believe I meant to say ‘properly’ as opposed to ‘truthfully’.

        The ‘current’ edition lists restrictions that have been eased or repealed. One example would be the 15-round magazine capacity limit in the city of Cincinnati, OH. That ordinance was invalidated by Ohio’s preemption law in 2007 and the city stopped enforcing it, but left the law on their books. A lot of effort went in to getting that law repealed by an anti-gun city council, and it was finally repealed two years ago. MidwayUSA still won’t ship 20 or 30-round magazines to that city because the ATF hasn’t (won’t) update their publication.


  3. Thank you for your extensive discussion of the changes to the form.
    I noticed that the last revision was in 2012 and that an OMB control number is only good for 3 years and is required to be current prior to collecting any information from the general public – does this notice also include updating the OMB control number, or is that conducted separately?


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