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ATF Publishes Rulings on Electronic Records And Consolidation of Records

On May 3, 2016, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) published on its website three ATF rulings addressing requirements for maintaining electronic records and consolidating manufacturer records with disposition records. ATF Rul. 2016-1, 2016-2, and 2016-3 are available on ATF’s website,

The three rulings authorize federal firearms licensees to use more modern methods of creating and retaining records required by the Gun Control Act of 1968. The practices authorized include cloud storage for acquisition and disposition records and electronic signatures on e-Form 4473. An overview of each ruling is provided in this article.

ATF Rul. 2016-1

This ruling addresses the requirements for federal firearms licensees (“FFLS”) to maintain their acquisition and disposition records electronically rather than on paper. The ruling supersedes ATF Rul. 2013-5, which also addressed electronic acquisition and disposition records. The ruling allows FFLs to use software to create and maintain their acquisition and disposition records without applying for and receiving an approved variance, as long as all the requirements specified in the ruling are met. We have underlined the requirements of ATF Rul. 2016-1 that differ from those in ATF Rul. 2013-5 below:

1. The software must record all acquisition and disposition information required under the regulations in 27 C.F.R. Part 478, Subpart H. The software may record information beyond that required in the regulations in additional columns as long as the information is separate from the regulatory information and required information is “readily apparent.”

2. The software must track corrections and changes utilizing one of the following methods:
a. By retaining corrections as an entirely new entry without deleting or modifying the original entry. The software must be able to quickly and easily change views of the bound book to show only original entries, only corrected entries, and both original and corrected entries in the same bound book;
b. By printing corrections as a separate report containing the same information as a paper bound book. The correction report should follow the bound book format specified in the...


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