Compliance: Check Your Denials to Prevent Straw Sales

Check Your Denials to Prevent Straw Sales

For many years, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, in partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, has promoted the “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” campaign. The primary goal of the program is to educate employees of Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to recognize and stop potential straw sales before they occur. The second goal is to stop would be straw purchasers by educating them of the fact that purchasing a firearm on behalf of another person is a Federal crime. We commend all FFLs who participate in this program.

As an FFL, you know that you have to maintain a separate file, in alphabetical or chronological order, of ATF Forms 4473 in cases where the NICS check came back “denied”, or where a delayed response was received and no firearm was transferred. But, did you know that this file can be another valuable tool in detecting and preventing straw purchases?

Persons who are denied by NICS often send in a family member, someone they reside with or a friend to the buy the exact firearm that they wanted to purchase.  In addition to employing the techniques of the “Don’t Lie” program, NSSF recommends that you review your denied Form 4473 file before every firearms transaction.

As soon as the buyer completes Section A of Form 4473, and before calling in the NICS check, you should compare the last name, the address and, if you have a practice of recording it on your 4473 forms, the serial number of the firearm that the buyer wishes to obtain. If there is no apparent match to your denied Forms 4473, and you have no other reason to suspect a straw purchase you can continue with the transaction.

If there is a match to the last name, address or firearm; you should make further inquiries of the buyer and if you are not completely satisfied that they are in fact the actual buyer of the firearm, you must decline the sale.

If you are a large retailer, or if you have a large number of denials, you might to consider developing a separate denial record or log that would list the last name, address and intended firearm of the denied person. Of course all denials were entered into the record. Then, make it standard practice for your sales associates to check this record before the NICS check, against every customers Form 4473, every time.

By checking your denials, you will be taking another important step to prevent straw purchases, which is a goal all in the firearms industry share.