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ATF releases 2018 Report on Firearm Commerce in the United States (Numbers, Bar Graphs, and Pie Charts!)

ATF has released its annual Firearms Commerce in the United States Statistical Update for 2018. As my one friend put it, “Let the nerdery begin.” To be fair, you have to be pretty nerdy to enjoy this stuff, hence me writing about it.

The Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Exportation Report (AFMER) is only current through 2016. This is because AFMER data is not published until one year after the close of a calendar reporting year because the information provided by those whole filed a report is protected from immediate disclosure by the Trade Secrets Act. Which is why you see a two year lag (2016 data reporting in the beginning of 2017 and a year delay between its reporting and publication).

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In 2016, there were a total of 11,497,441 firearms manufactured. This was up from 2015’s number of 9,358,661 by about 20%. The number of exports was up from the previous year by about 9%, from 343,456 in 2015 to 376,818 in 2016.

The total number of imports fell from 5,137,771 in 2016 to 4,492,256 in 2017 (imports are not included not the AFMER report which is why the numbers are more current). Once again, the number of handguns imported accounts for over half the total number of firearms imported.

For those of you NFA junkies, in 2017, there was $6,371,000 in occupational taxes paid (SOTs). This is up again from the year prior and slightly under double that of 2012. Taxes paid were $22,972,00 for 2017, about a third of what was paid in 2016 ($62,596,000). Interestingly, there were 6,749 record checks, which means that ATF searched the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR) that many times to determine if a firearm was possessed lawfully or if the transfer was performed lawfully. That number is up 202 times from 2016.

In 2017, there were 40,444 Form 1s and 184,312 Form 4s filed. These numbers were different from the year prior, but not by a significant margin for the Form 1s (Form 1s were down by about 9,000 but Form 4s were up about 51,000). The total number of forms processed by the NFA Branch was down about a million from the year prior. 2017 number look similar to that of 2014 and 2015.

As far as NFA firearms registered by state, Texas still leads with 637,612. Florida follows with 377,2017. California (thanks Hollywood), Virginia and Pennsylvania round out the top 5. Florida leads the charge with registered machine guns, sitting at 44,484. Texas has an astonishing 265,597 registered silencers. Florida is the next closest with 98,972 registered silencers.

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There are currently 55,588 licensed collectors of curios or relics, making it the most popular license type. It is followed closely by dealer in firearms, of which there are 56,638 active licenses. ATF reports 136,081 total active licenses (across the spectrum). Texas holds 10,920 of those licenses, making it the state with the most.

In 2017, 17 license applications were denied. This number is up exactly one from the year prior. As for compliance inspections, ATF performed 11,009 last year. This equates to 8.09% of all licensees in 2017 being inspected.

As always, the annual report helps give some insight as to ongoings within the firearms industry.

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As an FFL, Can You Sell an NFA Firearm Through the Mail?

Often times, Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) inquire as to whether they can sell a National Firearms Act (NFA) firearm through the mail, without the buyer needing to be present. To the surprise of most FFLs, you actually can sell NFA firearms through the mail, provided the purchaser is not otherwise prohibited and is a resident in the same state as the FFL.

27 C.F.R. § 478.96 states that where the firearm is being provided to resident of the same state as the FFL and who is not prohibited, the FFL may sell a firearm that is not subject to the provisions of 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(a) to a non-licensee who does not appear in person. Section 478.102(a) requires a National Instant Check System (NICS) background check on most transactions; however, there is an exception, pursuant to subsection (d)(2), if  “The firearm is subject to the provisions of the National Firearms Act and has been approved for transfer under 27 CFR part 479.” Thus, Section 478.96 would apply and allow the FFL to transfer the firearm to the purchaser, who is a resident of the same state, without the purchaser having to be present.

However, pursuant to Section 478.96, the FFL has certain additional requirements to perform this type of transaction. Specifically, the purchaser must provide to the FFL an executed Form 4473, as provided for by 27 C.F.R. § 478.124, and attach “a true copy of any permit or other information required pursuant to any statute of the State and published ordinance applicable to the locality in which he resides.”

Furthermore, the FFL MUST “prior to shipment or delivery of the firearm, forward by registered or certified mail (return receipt requested) a copy of the record, Form 4473, to the chief law enforcement officer named on such record, and delay shipment or delivery of the firearm for a period of at least 7 days following receipt by the licensee of the return receipt evidencing delivery of the copy of the record to such chief law enforcement officer, or the return of the copy of the record to him due to the refusal of such chief law enforcement officer to accept same in accordance with U.S. Postal Service regulations.”

Lastly, the original Form 4473, and evidence of receipt or rejection of delivery of the copy of the Form 4473 sent to the chief law enforcement officer must be retained by the licensee as a part of his/her/its required records. After completing this step, the FFL can now send the NFA firearm to the purchaser, provided that there are no separate state law requirements. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, require additional state forms to be completed, depending on the type of NFA firearm (e.g. if it constitutes a “firearm” under Pennsylvania law, then a Record/Application of Sale form would have to be completed).

Accordingly, while an NFA transfer can occur without the instate purchaser being present, there are additional obligations placed upon the FFL and the purchaser may not be happy with the additional information being provided to his/her CLEO. Thus, it is a best practice for an FFL to only conduct in-person transfers, unless you are familiar with the requirements and have put in place procedural safeguards to ensure that none of the additional requirements are overlooked.

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DDTC Issues Guidance on ITAR Registration

DDTC

On Friday July 22, 2016, the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (“DDTC”) released a letter issuing guidance on the requirement of firearm manufacturers and gunsmiths to register with DDTC under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”).

There has been constant discussion on the internet regarding whether an individual who has obtained a federal firearms license (“FFL”) is required to register for ITAR. Some of the Industry Operations Inspectors (“IOIs”) have taken it upon themselves to inform Type 07 FFLs that they must register for ITAR without any guidance from DDTC. There are certain instances where an FFL does not need to register for ITAR.

22 C.F.R. § 122.1 discusses the registration requirements for ITAR.

(a) Any person who engages in the United States in the business of manufacturing or exporting or temporarily importing defense articles, or furnishing defense services, is required to register with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls under § 122.2. For the purpose of this subchapter, engaging in such a business requires only one occasion of manufacturing or exporting or temporarily importing a defense article or furnishing a defense service. A manufacturer who does not engage in exporting must nevertheless register.

The crux of the registration for ITAR (for most FFLs) lies within the definition of manufacturing. DDTC has not promulgated a definition for manufacturing which is the source of a lot of confusion and misinformation.

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DDTC’s letter states that individuals who “do not actually manufacture ITAR-controlled firearms (including by engaging in the activities described below, which DDTC has found in specific cases to constitute manufacturing) need not register with DDTC – even if they have an FFL from ATF.” This is because the requirements for obtaining an FFL are separate and distinct of the requirements for registering under ITAR.

As DDTC does not have a definition for the term “manufacturing”, it relies on “the ordinary, contemporary, common meaning of the term.”

DDTC’s guidance is only in relation to “domestic (U.S.) activities involving firearms (as defined in Category I(j)(1) of the United States Munitions List (USML) (22 CFR § 121.1)) and related ammunition that are .50 caliber (12.7 mm) or smaller – i.e., firearms in Category I, paragraphs (a) and (b), related items in paragraphs (e)-(h), and ammunition in Category III(a) for those firearms. Activities involving items elsewhere on the USML, including Category I, paragraphs (c) and (d), are not included in the scope of this guidance.”

DDTC has found that the following instances do not require registration.

a)  Occasional assembly of firearm parts and kits that do not require cutting, drilling, or machining;

b)  Firearm repairs involving one-for-one drop-in replacement parts that do not require any cutting, drilling, or machining for installation;

c)  Repairs involving replacement parts that do not improve the accuracy, caliber, or other aspects of firearm operation;

d)  Hydrographic paint or Cerakote application or bluing treatments for a firearm;

e)  Attachment of accessories to a completed firearm without drilling, cutting, or machining—such as attaching a scope, sling, or light to existing mounts or hooks, or attaching a flash suppressor, sound suppressor, muzzle brake, or similar item to a pre- threaded muzzle;

f)  Cosmetic additions and alterations (including engraving) that do not improve the accuracy, caliber, or other aspects of firearm operation beyond its original capabilities;

g)  Machining new dovetails or drilling and tapping new holes for the installation of sights which do not improve the accuracy or operation of the firearm beyond its original capabilities; and

h)  Manual loading or reloading of ammunition of .50 caliber or smaller.

The guidance goes on to clarify that “[a]ctivities limited to the domestic sale or resale of firearms, the occasional assembly of firearms without drilling, cutting, or machining, and/or specific gunsmithing activities that do not improve the accuracy, caliber, or operations of the firearm beyond its original capabilities (as described above) are not manufacturing within the context of the ITAR. If you are not manufacturing, exporting, temporarily importing or brokering defense articles or services, you are not required to register with DDTC.”

Which then begs the question, what does DDTC require the registration under ITAR for?

DDTC states that if you are engaged in any of the following you are required to register for under ITAR.

a)  Use of any special tooling or equipment upgrading in order to improve the capability of assembled or repaired firearms;

b)  Modifications to a firearm that change round capacity;

c)  The production of firearm parts (including, but not limited to, barrels, stocks, cylinders, breech mechanisms, triggers, silencers, or suppressors);

d)  The systemized production of ammunition, including the automated loading or reloading of ammunition;

e)  The machining or cutting of firearms, e.g., threading of muzzles or muzzle brake installation requiring machining, that results in an enhanced capability;

f)  Rechambering firearms through machining, cutting, or drilling;

g)  Chambering, cutting, or threading barrel blanks; and

h)  Blueprinting firearms by machining the barrel.

Of particular interest is the guidance that now offering barrel threading services will result in an FFL being required to register for ITAR. This will certainly put a financial burden on the smaller gunsmiths who are threading barrels as registration for ITAR is $2,250 a year.

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Additionally, the penalties for violating ITAR are significant and able to be applied retroactively. Penalties for each violation of ITAR can result in up to $1,000,000 in fines and 20 years imprisonment. 22 U.S.C. § 2778(c)

DDTC does allow for voluntary disclosures of violations.

“The Department may consider a voluntary disclosure as a mitigating factor in determining the administrative penalties, if any, that should be imposed. Failure to report a violation may result in circumstances detrimental to U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, and will be an adverse factor in determining the appropriate disposition of such violations.” 22 C.F.R. § 127.12.

Lastly, DDTC does have a mechanism for an individual or company to inquire whether the activity they are engaging in requires registration under ITAR. This is an area that myself and Attorney Joshua Prince have experience in. It is certainly advised that a determination from DDTC is sought prior to engaging in the activity (if it is unknown or questionable whether it would require registration under ITAR) in order to mitigate any potential penalties.

 

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ALERT – PA FFLs, PSP Has No Authority To Conduct Inspections

It has recently come to my attention that the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) is conducting compliance inspections of PA Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) without warrants. Unlike the federal law provision found in 18 U.S.C. 923(g)(1)(B)(ii) that provides ATF with the authority to conduct a compliance inspection once every 12 months without a warrant, no similar provision exists in Pennsylvania law. Further, unlike with a Federal Firearms License, where the ATF issues the FFL, in Pennsylvania, it is the county sheriff that issues the Pennsylvania firearms sales license, not the PSP.

Accordingly, the PSP has no authority or jurisdiction, absent a lawfully executed warrant or your consent, to inspect your records or premise. If the PSP comes to your store and demands to review your records, you should immediately inform them that you do not consent to a search of your premise or records and request that they produce a warrant. You should also immediately contact an attorney for representation and anticipate ATF to conduct a compliance inspection in the near future.

If you or a FFL you know is approached by the PSP, you should immediately contact us so that we can ensure your rights are protected. Remember, Rule 1 is never speak with the police and Rule 2 is never consent to a search, even if you believe your records to have been maintained in strict compliance.

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ATF Determination – FFLs Can Rent Handguns AND Ammunition to Individuals 18 and Older

As our readers are aware, Trop Gun Shop, LTD has been at the forefront of defending the rights of those in the Firearms Industry, including individuals, FFLs and Gun Clubs/Ranges. Recently, Trop obtained a determination from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that benefits the entire Firearms Industry.

In March of 2013, the ATF issued its FFL Newsletter that, inter alia, addressed whether an FFL could rent a handgun to an individual under the age of 21 for on-premises use. ATF declared, “A licensee may rent a handgun to a person less than 21 years of age, or a long gun to a person less than 18 years of age for use at an on-premises shooting range.” However, ATF did not address, or even mention, whether the FFL could provide ammunition for the handgun to an individual between the ages of 18 and 21 given the prohibition on the sale or delivery of handgun ammunition to those under 21, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 922(b)(1).

As a result and due to Trop’s dedication to protecting the Firearms Industry, Trop requested that I submit a determination request on its behalf to ATF arguing that an FFL is lawfully able to provide ammunition that can be used in either a rifle or handgun to someone who is between 18 and 21 years of age, when the person is renting a handgun from an FFL for on-premises use, in which the ammunition can be utilized. That request was submitted on August 16, 2014.

On May 6, 2015, the Firearms Industry Program Branch (FIPB) responded:

The longstanding position of ATF has been that the temporary use of a handgun and the “using up” of ammunition onsite does not constitute a delivery and the prohibition to the sale or delivery of handguns or ammunition to a person under 21 years of age according to 18 U.S.C. 922(b)(1) would not apply. This is provided that the ammunition is to be expended and used-up on the licensed premises in conjunction with the onsite rental of a firearm and is included as part of the overall fee for the usage of the facility. In addition, the spent cartridges and any unused ammunition must be returned to the facility.

A copy of the determination can be found here.

Accordingly, as I originally contended in my determination request, an FFL may lawfully provide (NOT SELL) ammunition that can be used in either a rifle or handgun to someone who is between 18 and 21 years of age, when the person is renting a handgun from that FFL for on-premises use, in which the ammunition can be utilized. However, it is imperative that the FFL ensure that either all ammunition is expended or any unused ammunition is returned.

If you are in the Firearms Industry and require a determination from ATF, contact us today to discuss how we can assist you in obtaining the determination that you desire and which further protects our Industry.

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The Thin Blue Label…A Tale of Confidential Information and a Glock Representative Demanding a Pennsylvania FFL Violate the Crimes Code

Trop Gun made a big splash on social media and forums on Thursday for their refusal to show Glock employees their 4473s for customers who had purchased guns through the Blue Label Program. In response to Trop’s refusal to show the Glock representative the 4473s, Glock terminated Trop from the Blue Label Program. You can read Trop’s response to having their Blue Label Program participation revoked here. For those who are unfamiliar, the Blue Label Program allows law enforcement, military, Glock Shooting Sports Foundation (GSSF) members and several other select individuals to purchase Glock pistols at a reduced price.

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The Blue Label Program imposes certain requirements on dealers when selling “blue label” guns. Those requirements include collecting a copy of the individuals credentials (photocopy of their ID), filling out a form that certifies the sales representative saw the credential if a photocopy cannot be made or collecting the GSSF coupon that GSSF members bring. Glock requires that these be attached to the 4473.

According to Trop, when the Glock representative came to do an audit of the “blue label” firearms that were sold, the representative demanded access to view records relating to “blue label” sales including access to the 4473s. Trop Gun wisely refused the representative’s request. After attempting to find a solution that would allow the Glock representative to be satisfied that the “blue label” sales were only made to qualified individuals and arriving at nothing that would satisfy the demands of the Glock representative, Trop Gun was terminated from the Blue Label Program.

While Trop Gun refused the Glock representative access to the 4473s based on their position of protecting their customer’s privacy, there appears to be a more pertinent reason to deny the Glock representative access. It’s a violation of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code for a Pennsylvania FFL to disclose information provided by the transferee in relation to the purchase of a firearm.

18 Pa.C.S. § 6111(i) of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code reads:

Confidentiality.–All information provided by the potential purchaser, transferee or applicant, including, but not limited to, the potential purchaser, transferee or applicant’s name or identity, furnished by a potential purchaser or transferee under this sectionshall be confidential and not subject to public disclosure. In addition to any other sanction or penalty imposed by this chapter, any person, licensed dealer, State or local governmental agency or department that violates this subsection shall be liable in civil damages in the amount of $1,000 per occurrence or three times the actual damages incurred as a result of the violation, whichever is greater, as well as reasonable attorney fees.

As Section 6111 pertains to the sale or transfer of firearms, the information provided by the transferee is confidential and not subject to public disclosure. This prohibition of disclosure would surely include the Glock representative who arrives at a Pennsylvania FFL to conduct an audit of “blue label” sales. Furthermore, any FFL who did provide the 4473s and/or Pennsylvania Record of Sale to a Glock representative would be in violation of Section 6111(i) and subject to civil penalties in the amount of $1,000 per occurrence or three times the actual damages incurred as a result of the violation, as well as reasonable attorney fees!

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Ostensibly, as the credentials Glock requires individuals to provide in order to purchase a “blue label” gun are being provided for the purchase of a firearm, there may be an argument that the disclosure of those credentials are in violation of Section 6111.

All FFLs in Pennsylvania who are Blue Label Program members should be aware of this issue. If a Glock representative requests information pertaining to an audit for “blue label” guns and the PA FFL provides them with any information furnished by the transferee, that FFL could be civilly liable under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. Perhaps the next Pennsylvania FFL who is ordered to disclose their 4473s for a Glock “blue label” audit would be better suited in pointing out the request is asking them to violate the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. Maybe after reviewing this matter more closely, Glock will reconsider their termination of Trop’s Blue Label Program participation, as they were asking Trop Gun to potentially open themselves up to civil liability.

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Pennsylvania Second Amendment Action Day – May 12, 2015!

The 10th Annual Pennsylvania Second Amendment Action Day is scheduled for May 12, 2015 at the State Capitol Steps in Harrisburg, PA. With notable speakers such as Sheriff Richard Mack (who sued the U.S. Government and won in relation to a gun control measure) and State Representative Daryl Metcalfe, it is guaranteed to be phenomenal event in support of OUR rights.

Will you join me in attending and standing up for Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution? Contrary to media discourse, our Right to Keep and Bear Arms is being eviscerated at the state and federal level. This year alone, we have seen Pennsylvania Attorney General Kane rescind firearm reciprocity agreements in the absence of any authority to do so and fail in her duty to enter into a reciprocity agreement with Idaho. We have also seen NUMEROUS bills submitted in the General Assembly to strip away OUR rights! These include HB 285 which seeks to make any person who ever seeks mental health treatment, a prohibited person; HB 418, which seeks to ban human silhouette targets; and HB 91, which seeks to make any false compartment, potentially including your attached vehicle safe, a criminal offense! At the federal level, we have seen ATF seek to expand the “sporting purpose framework” in relation to 5.56/223 ammo, ATF direct Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs) to abuse the NICS and PICS systems, and ATF seek to redefined what constitutes being “committed to a mental institution.”

You need to come out and let your voice be heard! Article 1, Section 21 and the Second Amendment are inalienable (or natural) rights, as even acknowledged by the U.S. Supreme Court in D.C. v. Heller.

Justice James Wilson interpreted the Pennsylvania Constitution’s arms-bearing right, for example, as a recognition of the natural right of defense “of one’s person or house”—what he called the law of “self preservation.” 2 Collected Works of James Wilson 1142, and n. x (K. Hall & M. Hall eds.2007) (citing Pa. Const., Art. IX, § 21 (1790)); see also T. Walker, Introduction to American Law 198 (1837). D.C. v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 585, 128 S. Ct. 2783, 2793, 171 L. Ed. 2d 637 (2008)
Yet, our rights are constantly under attack at the state and federal level. We need to let our representatives know that shall not infringe means just that…shall not infringe. If you don’t appreciate the language of the Second Amendment or Article 1, Section 21, then, like everyone else, you have the right to petition your representatives to have it amended; however, you do not have the right to seek judicially active judges to interpret that which is abundantly clear.
Join me and numerous other individuals and pro-2nd Amendment organizations on May 12th in celebrating our rights and making clear to our representatives that we will not tolerate ANY infringement on our rights!
Gun Rally Flyer 2015-Final

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