Legally Armed: V22N4

By Teresa G. Ficaretta, Esq. & Johanna Reeves, Esq.

What Happens After Your FFL is Revoked?
Options for Staying in the Firearms Business

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has the authority to revoke a federal firearms license if the holder has willfully violated any provision of the Gun Control Act (GCA) or any regulation issued under the GCA. Fortunately for federal firearms licensees (FFL or FFLs) ATF generally revokes fewer than 100 licenses per year. ATF recognizes that license revocation is the death penalty for a business and imposes this sanction sparingly; limiting it to those FFLs agency officials believe are unlikely to operate their businesses in compliance with the law.

What if you are one of the FFLs who goes through an administrative revocation hearing and then loses your license? Alternatively, you may choose to surrender your FFL in lieu of going through a stressful and expensive revocation proceeding. In either instance are you forever barred from participating in the firearms industry in any way? This article addresses the options for persons who previously held FFLs to continue working in the firearms industry.


The GCA requires all persons engaging in the business of manufacturing, importing or dealing in firearms to obtain a license issued by ATF. FFLs are required to create and retain records of acquisition and disposition; manufacturers and importers are required to mark the firearms they manufacture and import; transfers of firearms to unlicensed purchasers must comply with the interstate controls of the GCA and be recorded on ATF Form 4473; and FFLs must comply with all other requirements of the law and regulations.

ATF has the right to conduct warrantless inspections of FFLs (1) in connection with a criminal investigation of a person other than the FFL; (2) for purposes of firearms tracing; and (3) for purposes of conducting an annual inspection to ensure compliance with the record keeping provisions of the GCA. Inspections that do not fit within one of these three criteria must be conducted with the consent of the FFL or with a warrant issued by a federal judge. The vast...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N4 (April 2018)
and was posted online on February 23, 2018


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