Industry News: ATF Importer's Conference Part II
By Robert M. Hausman

During the ATF Importers Meeting held last August in Washington,D.C., ATF representatives presented the following chart detailing the number of arms transferred during the year of 2006 for each state.

Number of Arms Approved Into Each State by Form & Arm Type for Calendar Year 2006
In other developments at the meeting,Wonjiri Ridley, an ATF Imports Branch Specialist, stressed the importance of completing Form 6 in an accurate and complete manner.Large numbers of Form 6s are returned to importers due to inaccurate or incomplete preparation of the form. When additional information is needed by ATF Examiners the form is returned with no action taken.

Common issues with return of the form include not listing the manufacturer or the firearm models attempting to be imported as well as not including the registrant’s Arms Export Control Act registration number.

For users of the electronic version of Form 6, known as e-Form 6, processing times (as of last August) were running from four to six weeks, Ridley noted. Users of the electronic e-Form 6 have long complained that if they do not access the e-Form 6 system for several weeks their passwords become invalid. Ridley acknowledged this and advised users that they must access the system two to three times a month to keep their user ID’s active. For password resets, call (877) 875-3723.

Those licensees eligible to use e-Form 6 are:
  • Type 08 Federal Firearms Licensees (Importer of firearms other than destructive devices)
  • Type 11 FFLs (Importer of Destructive Devices)

To make application to use the e-Form 6 application process, submit ATF Form 5013.3 e-Form 6 Access Request via FAX to (304) 616-4551 or U.S. Mail to 244 Needy Road, Martinsburg, West Virginia 25405.

Form 6A

The importance of filing ATF Form 6A was also stressed by Ridley as she said many importers are not filing Form 6A as required. The form must be returned to ATF within 15 days of the importation. Form 6A is used for the release and receipt (from Customs) of imported firearms, ammunition and firearms parts.

Our Firearms Attorney rose to say he had heard from licensees that U.S. Customs & Border Protection officers (who must process Form 6As) that some U.S. Customs officers are retaining the Form 6As in the mistaken belief that their agency is supposed to keep them.

Our Firearms Attorney’ remarks were answered by ATF attorney Teresa Ficaretta who pointed out that since Form 6A is a two-part form, Customs should be keeping only one copy and returning the other copy to the importer so that this second copy can be forwarded by the importer to ATF.

Our Firearms Attorney then raised the issue of whether importers should submit Form 6As unsigned by Customs. In response, Audrey Stucko, Deputy Assistant Director ATF Office of Enforcement Programs and Services promised to explore the issue with customs and said information on it would be published on the ATF web site. However, as late as early January, no information on this problem with U.S. Customs could be found on the ATF web site.

In use, licensed Type 08 and Type 11 importers fill out Sections I and III (along with an original signature) on Form 6A. The foreign seller is provided by the importer with copies of the processed Forms 6 and completed 6A, to be placed inside the package along with the articles approved for importation.

Once the goods arrive at the port of entry, U.S. Customs officials are supposed to conduct a physical inspection of the articles and the processed Forms 6 and 6A to ensure the articles imported coincide with the information on the forms. When the goods pass inspection, Customs is to complete and sign Section II of the completed Form 6A, retain one copy and provide the importer with the other copy.

27 CFR § 478.112 requires the importer to forward (within 15 days after the articles are released from Customs) the Form 6A to the ATF Firearms and Explosives Import Branch in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Import Permit Exemptions

A presentation on Import Permit Exemptions was made by Larry White, Industry Liaison, ATF Firearms and Explosives Services Division.

The regulations that require an import permit for firearms, ammunition and firearms parts are contained in 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44 and 27 CFR Part 478 (Subpart G) of the 1968 Gun Control Act, 18 U.S.C. Chapter 40 and 27 CFR Part 555 (Subpart J) of the Organized Crime ControlAct and 22 U.S.C. §2778 and 27 CFR Part 447 (Subpart E) of the Arms Export Control Act.

However, certain exemptions are found in 27 CFR 115(a) - (d) of the Gun Control Act:

  • Return of a firearm and/or ammunition a person took out of the U.S.- 478.115(a)
  • Importation of a firearm, firearm barrel, or ammunition by federal,state or local government entity - 478.115(b)
  • Importation by nonresidents of the U.S. for a hunting/sporting purpose - 478.115(d)1
  • Importation by a foreign military on official assignment (duty weapons only) - 478.115 d)(2)

There is also no permit needed (according to 27 CFR 478.115(a) - (d) of the Gun Control Act) for Official representatives of foreign governments accredited to the U.S. en route to or from other countries; officials of foreign governments and distinguished foreign visitors (as designated by the U.S. Dept. of State); and foreign law enforcement officers of friendly foreign governments on official law enforcement business.

The Arms Export Control Act’s 27 CFR 447.41 exempts from the permit requirement, minor components and parts for Category 1(a) and 1(b) (on the U.S. Munitions List) firearms,except barrels, cylinders, receivers (frames), or complete breech mechanisms, when the total value does not exceed $100 wholesale in any single transaction (447.41(c)(2).

The importation of components for items being manufactured under contract for the Dept. of Defense are exempted by 27 CFR 447.53(a)(2). When claiming such an exemption, at the time of entry the importer must submit to Customs a statement claiming exemption and proof of eligibility for the exemption such as a copy of a contract. Importers may request a letter ruling from ATF to help out in such situations, White noted.

The author publishes two of the small arms industry’s most widely read trade newsletters. The International Firearms Trade covers the world firearms scene, and The New Firearms Business covers the domestic market. He also offers FFLmailing lists to firms interested in direct marketing efforts to the industry. He may be reached at: FirearmsB@aol.com.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V11N7 (April 2008)
and was posted online on September 21, 2012


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