Compliance Inspections

As any FFL knows, after obtaining your FFL, one’s interaction with the BATFE will generally be limited to compliance inspections. A compliance inspection can occur at any time, and is typically a “surprise,” as the BATFE Agent/Investigator will probably not contact the licensee prior to the inspection and just show up at some point during the hours listed on licensee’s application.

During an inspection, the investigator will:

  • Ask any individual who is conducting firearms sales for identification;
  • Check to ensure that the BATFE’s record of who is conducting sales at the establishment, referred to as a “responsible person,” is current and correct;
  • 1.) Inventory the firearms in inventory and compare them to the Acquisition and Disposition records.
  • 2.) Verify that the licensee has certified copies of any other dealer’s license to which firearms were sold or transferred.
  • 3.) Check the licensee’s Acquisition and Disposition record to ensure that firearms sold to non-licensees also have completed Form 4473s relating to those transactions.
  • 4.) Ensure that all 4473s have been completed properly and that Pennsylvania Instant Check System checks have been completed.
  • 5.) Check the Form 4473s for questionable or suspicious purchasers such as:
        • a.) Individuals Trafficking in Firearms
        • b.) Straw Purchasers
        • c.) Prohibited People
  • After an inspection, the investigator will inform the licensee of any problems that he/she found and what the proper corrective actions to take are (if there are any).

  • If there are no problems or violations found, the investigator will inform the licensee that no problems were discovered and that the licensee is operating in compliance.
  • If there are violations found, the actions to take depend on the type of violation.
  • Minor Violations: For minor violations, the licensee will receive a report from the investigator, which will state:
        • 1.) regulations violated
        • 2.) describing the violations
        • 3.) corrective action that needs to be taken
        • 4.) date by which the corrections should take place
  • Serious Violation: For serious violations, the licensee will receive a warning letter:
        • 1.) specifying the regulations violated
        • 2.) describing the violations
        • 3.) warning the licensee that failure to correct the violations could lead to action against the licensee.
  • Very Serious Violation: Very serious violations include the willful sale to a prohibited person, willfully facilitating a straw purchase, a willful sale to an underage person, or being unable to account for a significant number of firearms. If a licensee has very serious violations, they will receive a letter for a conference with the Area Supervisor. At this conference,
        • 1.) each violation will be discussed
        • 2.) corrective action will be discussed
        • 3.) licensee will be informed of penalties for failure to comply

    After the conference, the Licensee will receive a confirmation letter of what was discussed at the conference.

    If you ever receive such a letter, you should IMMEDIATELY contact us, or another attorney who is familiar with firearms laws, to represent you. Prince Law Offices, P.C., has attorneys ready to protect your rights and interests if any issues should arise during a compliance inspection. All too often, over-zealous BATFE agents trample the rights of the unwary FFL and start making threats, when the FFL complied with the regulations and record-keeping requirements but the BATFE’s records are in error. When you want attorneys who aren’t intimidated by the BATFE, contact us.