The United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, known as ATF or BATFE, administers and enforces regulations related to Federal Firearms Licensees. Federal Firearms Licensees, or FFLs, are alternatively known as Federal Firearms Dealers or Gun Dealers. The ATF maintains both criminal and administrative authority. The ATF enforces the Gun Control Act, Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, National Firearms Act and other federal statutes related to the firearms industry. On the administrative law side, the ATF requires licenses and permits for any business that distributes, exports, imports, or manufactures firearms.
There are nearly 140,000 Federal Firearms Licensees, or FFLs, throughout the United States. FFLs can be licensed under the following classifications: Dealer, Pawnbroker, Collector, Manufacturer of Ammunition, Manufacturer of Firearms, Importer, Destructive Device Dealer, Destructive Device Manufacturer and Destructive Device Importer. The ATF reviews over one million firearms transactions per year that are processed by Federal Firearms Dealers. An Administrative ATF investigation can result in an ATF FFL Revocation Hearing. An ATF Staff Attorney files an ATF Notice of Revocation action against the FFL. An ATF Revocation proceeding is governed by United States Code of Federal Regulations 27 C.F.R. § 478.
Pursuant to 27 C.F.R. § 478.74, the FFL has only 15 days from receipt of the ATF Notice of Revocation action to file a request for an ATF Administrative Revocation Hearing. An ATF Administrative Law Judge, or ALJ, employed by the ATF, or Internal Revenue Service (IRS)w, presides over the case. ATF Federal Firearms Licensee Revocation Hearings are generally held in Arlington, Virginia (Washington, D.C.), or in locations in close proximity to the ATF FFL. Many ATF Revocation Hearings are held in Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; and Seattle, Washington.
If you are a Federal Firearms Licensee in the United States facing an ATF Revocation, contact an ATF FFL Revocation Hearing Defense Lawyer for representation.
ATF Federal Firearms License Revocation Hearing Defense Attorney
An ATF FFL Administrative Revocation Hearing is a traditional evidentiary Hearing. An ATF Federal Firearms Licensee Hearing follows the traditional Federal Rules of Evidence and is conducted in accordance with the United States Administrative Procedure Act, or APA. The ATF staff attorney, employed by the ATF Office of Chief Counsel, is there to represent the government and prosecute the alleged Administrative violations of the Federal Firearms Licensee, also known as a Federal Firearms Dealer. The ATF staff attorney will not provide any legal advice or assistance to a Federal Firearms Licensee. Furthermore, the Administrative Law Judge will also refrain from providing any legal advice or assistance to the FFL. Thus, an FFL facing an ATF FFL Revocation Hearing should retain the services of a Federal Firearms Licensee Defense Lawyer to represent their interests at an FFL ATF Revocation Hearing. There are several steps in an ATF Revocation Action:
IOI Compliance Investigation: The ATF conducts regular compliance investigations of Federal Firearms Licensees, or FFLs, throughout the United States. The ATF conducts over 10,000 compliance inspections per year. Since these compliance inspections are administrative, a warrant is not required. In fact, pursuant to 27 C.F.R. § 478.121, FFLs are required to admit ATF Agents into their place of business and allow for the inspection of their records. Failure to comply is grounds for Federal Firearms License revocation. Upon completion of an administrative investigation, any alleged violations are forwarded to the ATF Field Division Director of Industry Operations, or DIO.
Director of Industry Operations Revocation Action: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms maintains 25 Field Offices throughout the United States and a headquarters division. Each Field Office has a Director of Industry Operations, or DIO, and legal counsel. The DIO and legal counsel review the findings of each administrative FFL compliance investigation where ATF legal violations are alleged. The DIO may issue a Report of Violations or a Warning Letter to the FFL or an informal Warning Conference with the FFL to discuss the alleged violations. Willfulness is a required element of all ATF Administrative Law violations. Thus, iIn order to file an ATF FFL Revocation Action, the DIO must believe that the FFL acted willfully to commit the stated violations.
Settlement: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms does not enter into Settlements with Federal Firearms Licensees. ATF FFL Revocation actions result in either a complete dismissal prior to Hearing, an agreed upon Revocation prior to Hearing, or proceed to Hearing.
Hearing: ATF FFL Revocation Hearings proceed according to the Administrative Procedure Act and the United States Code of Federal Regulations. Administrative ATF FFL Revocation Hearings require adherence to the Federal Rules of Evidence. Both the ATF and Federal Firearms Licensee have the right to make opening statements, present witness testimony, present documentary evidence and make closing arguments. Each side also retains the right to cross examine the other party’s witnesses. A Federal Firearms Dealer should hire an ATF FFL Defense Attorney for representation in an ATF FFL Revocation Hearing to present their case and defend their Federal Firearms License.
ALJ’s Findings: The Administrative Law Judge must issue written Findings. These Findings must state the factual and legal reasons for the Administrative Law Judge’s ruling The Findings only recommended because in the Federal Administrative Law process, the final determination is made by the agency director, in this case the Director of Industry Operations, or DIO, for the Field Division in which the action arose. In an ATF headquarters case, the headquarters DIO makes a Final Decision as to whether a Federal Firearms Licensee will have their FFL license revoked.
ATF Director of Industry Operations Final Decision: The ALJ’s Findings are forwarded along with all case documents to the ATF Director of Industry Operations for that particular Field Division. If the case was complex and sent to the ATF headquarters level, the headquarters DIO will receive the Findings. The ATF DIO makes a Final Decision pursuant to 27 C.F.R. § 478.74. The ATF Director of Industry Operations can adopt, modify or reject the ALJ’s Findings. The ATF Director of Industry Operations Final Decision concludes the ATF Administrative Law FFL Revocation Hearing process.
Appeal to the United States District Court: The Federal Firearms Licensee reserves the right to appeal the ATF Director of Industry Operations, or DIO’s, Final Decision to the United States Federal DIstrict Court. The Petition for De Novo Review must be filed in District Court within 60 days of the date of the DIO’s Final Decision.
If you are facing an ATF FFL Revocation Hearing related to your Federal Firearms License, contact a Federal Firearms Licensee Defense Lawyer for representation.
ATF FFL Revocation Hearing Defense Lawyer
There are a number of reasons why the ATF can issue a Notice of FFL Revocation. Many Administrative violations can also result in criminal prosecution. Thus, an experienced ATF FFL Defense Attorney is necessary to protect a Federal Firearms License. Federal Firearms Licensees often commit the following violations of the United States Code of Federal Regulations and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Regulations:
Failure to Complete Forms as Indicated in Instructions, in violation of 27 C.F.R. § 478.21(a) and 27 C.F.R. § 478.21(b).
Failure to File Form 3310.11 FFL Inventory Theft/Loss Report, violation of 27 C.F.R. § 478.39(a).
Failure to Timely Record Information In Bound Record (Acquisition and Disposition, or A&D) Record, in violation of 27 C.F.R. § 478.125(e).
Licensee Did Not Record on Form 4473 the Date on Which NICS Was Contacted, in violation of 27 C.F.R. § 478.124(c)(3)(iv).
Licensee Did Not Sign and Date Form 4473, in violation of 27 C.F.R. § 478.124(c)(5).
Licensee Disposed of Firearm to a Person Licensee Had Reasonable Cause to Believe Was Prohibited, in violation of 27 C.F.R. § 478.99(c).
Licensee Failed to Contact NICS and Wait Stipulated Time Prior to Transfer of Firearm, in violation of 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(a).
Licensee Failed to Obtain and/or Document Purchaser’s Identification, in violation of 27 C.F.R. § 478.124(c)(3)(i).
Licensee Failed to Properly Identify Firearm on Form 4473, in violation of 27 C.F.R. § 478.124(c)(4).
Licensee Failed to Report Multiple Hangdun Sales, in violation of 27 C.F.R. § 478.126(a).
Licensee Failed to Retain Records For Required Time, in violation of 27 C.F.R. § 478.129(b).
Transferee Did Not Properly Complete Form 4473 Section A, in violation of 27 C.F.R. § 478.124(c)(1).
If you are a Federal Firearms Licensee, contact a FFL Revocation Hearing Defense Attorney for representation in a Federal Firearms Dealer Revocation action.
ATF Federal Firearms License Compliance Investigation Attorney
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, known as the ATF, employs nearly 3,200 Special Agents and 1,800 civilian staff members, including Staff Attorneys under the Office of Chief Counsel. Founded in 1972, the ATF, an enforcement arm of the Department of the Treasury, traditionally focused on tax issues related to firearms and tobacco. The ATF later was transferred to the Department of Justice, with a new emphasis on combating gun crime. The ATF conducts complex investigations related to gun, tobacco and explosives criminal offenses. Many of the ATF’s firearms related investigations begin with FFLs. ATF Special Agents conduct FFL compliance checks and investigations throughout the United States.
Federal Firearms Licensees are often the target of Sting Operations and investigations by ATF Special Agents. The ATF is concerned with straw purchasing of firearms, prohibited individuals purchasing firearms and the resale of stolen firearms . Straw purchasing of a firearm involves a person legally purchasing a firearm from a Federal Firearms Licensee and reselling the firearm to a person prohibited from possessing and purchasing firearms. FFLs that knowingly sell firearms to straw buyers are criminally and administratively liable.
Individuals convicted of felonies, certain misdemeanor offenses and those who possess mental illness are prohibited from purchasing and even possessing firearms and ammunition. However, some Firearms Dealers continue to sell firearms to these prohibited individuals. A particular concern for ATF is the resale of stolen firearms to prohibited persons. One such scheme involves Federal Firearms Licensees, or Gun Dealers, knowingly purchasing a stolen firearm and reselling the stolen firearm to a prohibited person. This type of misconduct results in substantial criminal and administrative penalties.
Misconduct by a Federal Firearms Licensee can result in revocation of the Federal Firearms License. If you are an ATF FFL facing an ATF Revocation Action, contact an ATF Administrative Investigations Defense Lawyer for representation.
ATF FFL Denial Appeal Lawyer
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