On December 19, 2018, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued a responsive determination to me that it is lawful for a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) to utilize what are referred to as ditto marks (i.e. a set of quotation marks or ” “) in their acquisition and disposition (A&D) record, after I previously had ATF revoke a client’s FFL, in part, for the use of ditto marks.
In my initial request for a determination to the Chief of the Firearms & Explosives Industry Division, I explained that there is a substantial disagreement about whether the use of ditto marks in an FFL’s A&D record is lawful, even by ATF Industry Operation Investigators (IOIs). In point of fact, I am representing an FFL, whose license is being revoked by ATF, in part, due to his extensive use of ditto marks. During the ATF hearing challenging the revocation (which violates all tenets of due process…but I digress), the two IOIs, in the absence of sequestration, testified inconsistently. The one IOI testified that the use of ditto marks was not a violation; the other IOI testified, in support of revoking my client’s license for use of ditto marks, that the use of ditto marks was a violation. As I explained in my request for determination, there is an Industry-wide concern over direction provided by IOIs and ATF later taking a position contrary to the direction provided by the IOI, where the FFL is then written up for violations for relying on the direction provided by the IOI. In fact, what happens when the IOI who told the FFL that such conduct was lawful, retires or move up within ATF, and a new IOI comes on scene, who sees the conduct as violating the law or regulations? I then went on to pose the question of –
How is the Industry suppose to ensure its compliance, when the agents enforcing compliance cannot agree on what compliance is?
In response, on December 19, 2018, Jason Gluck, Firearms Enforcement Specialist of the ATF Firearms Industry Program Branch (FIPB), responded –
It is acceptable for a licensee to use ditto marks (“ “) and/or line symbols (↓ or ┴) in their acquisition and disposition (A&D) to indicate that the information is repeated. However, when the entries total more than one page in the A&D record, the licensee should be entering all required information at the beginning of each page. It is worth noting that the preferred method is that the licensee record the required information without using ditto marks or symbols to ensure the accuracy of each entry.
Thus, ATF has now confirmed that not only is it lawful for an FFL to utilize ditto marks in one’s A&D record but it is also lawful to use arrow and line demarcations (i.e. line symbols), as specified in the responsive email, provided that all information is provided at the top of each new page.
It is my understanding that this information is being pushed out to all field offices so that all IOIs are aware of this determination by FIPB.
If you are an FFL with questions regarding compliance with the Gun Control Act or are facing a warning conference or revocation due to your alleged non-compliance by ATF, contact FICG today to discuss your options. FICG even offers its clients mock-compliance inspections and training, through a retired ATF Area Supervisor and Acting NFA Branch Chief with 36 years of experience with ATF, so you can ensure your compliance!
Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.