Record Keeping for Repair Firearms
A Guide for Retail FFLs
Prepared by Harry McCabe, Former ATF Deputy Assistant Director and Consultant to the National Shooting Sports Foundation
The aim of this article is to help every retailer keep complete and accurate A&D records for all firearms taken in for repair, whether it be just for cleaning or for return to the manufacturer for repair or replacement, and everything in between.
First, keep a separate A&D book for your repairs. It’s much easier that way.
Second, make sure that A&D book looks like (is formatted like) all your other A&D books. It’s required by the ATF regulations at 27 CFR 478.125(e), and by ATF Rulings 73-13 and 77-1.
Third, enter all required information in the repair book for every firearm taken in for repair that stays more than one business day. That is also required by the ATF regulations at 27 CFR 478.125(e), and by ATF Rulings 73-13 and 77-1.
Only firearms that are received, repaired and returned to the customer, all on the same day are exempt from the requirements discussed in this article. If the gun stays in your store overnight, ATF Ruling 77-1 requires it to be logged into your A&D record as an acquisition.
Your record of firearms received for repair must contain a complete description of the firearm – manufacturer, importer (if any), model, serial number, type of firearm (not type of firearm action), and caliber or gauge.
It must contain the full name and complete street address of the individual who brought
it in for repair and the date it was brought in.
When the firearm is returned to the individual who brought it in for repair, the disposition side of the record must again contain the full name and complete street address of the individual who picked it up and the date it was returned to that individual. I know this is the same information that you entered on the acquisition side of the record, but no shortcuts are allowed, even when the firearm is returned to the same person from whom it was received.
If the firearm is returned to the same person who brought it in for repair, no Form 4473 or background check is required because the law says this is not a “transfer.”
If, however, the repaired firearm is returned to anyone other than the individual who brought it in – a spouse, for example – both a Form 4473 and a background check are required. (NOTE: Per the instructions at item 11a on Form 4473, an individual picking up a repaired firearm for someone else does not have to answer 11a.)
Between the receipt of the firearm for repair and the return of the repaired firearm to whoever picks it up, several things can happen. Most commonly, the firearm can be sent out to another licensed FFL/gunsmith for repair, or it can be sent back to the manufacturer for repair.
In both of those cases, sending the firearm out of your store is a disposition that must be entered in the A&D record; and you must get a copy of the firearms license of the FFL or manufacturer to whom you ship it just as you must if you are transferring a new firearm to another FFL. That disposition entry must contain the date of the shipment, the name of the FFL to whom you shipped it, and the complete 15-character FFL number of that licensee.
When the repaired firearm you shipped out is returned to you, you must make a new and complete acquisition entry in your records to record the receipt from the licensee that repaired it.
When you return that repaired firearm to the individual who brought it in for repair (or to another person picking it up for that individual), you must make a disposition entry (on the same line where you received that firearm from the repair facility) to record the full name and complete street address of the individual who picked it up, and the date it was picked up.
Finally, if the defective firearm is sent back to the manufacturer for warranty (or non-warranty) repair and the manufacturer chooses to replace that firearm with one of the same kind and type, 27 CFR 478.147 allows the transfer of that firearm to the individual who originally brought the defective firearm in for repair without a Form 4473 or background check. Both the acquisition and the disposition of the replacement firearm must be recorded in your acquisition and disposition records, however.
Records that do not comply with all of these provisions are in violation of 27 CFR 478.125(e), and you will be cited for that violation on an ATF inspection.
So I’d recommend that you take a few minutes and review your records and pay extra attention to the records you keep for the firearms you repair. A few minutes of review might just save you a number of problems down the road.