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Posted By FFL Dealer Network on 08/10/2018 in FFL Business

Customer Service in Your FFL Business



Customer Service in Your FFL Business

Part of having a Federal Firearms License (FFL) means customer service. 

Even a Type 06, which is for manufacturing ammunition only, requires the license holder to work with people buying ammo. The Type 03, the collector of curio and relics license, is not a license to do business buying and selling firearms. But the license does allow the person to occasionally sell a gun. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (BATF) has guidelines for dealing with people buying firearms or ammunition that go through an FFL Business. The federal agency does not have information or advice for customer service in general. 

Small Business BC has a list of 10 tips for customer service , especially those with a complaint. These suggestions are much the same for every place or person who offers advice for dealing with the public. LiveChat gives some additional advice while covering the same points as well. 



DIFFERENT 

Guns and ammunition are a bit different than selling drinks, snacks, TVs or furniture. For one thing, the same of guns and ammo are regulated by federal law. BATF also regulates the sale of alcohol. States also regulate gun and alcohol sales, so an FFL Business and a liquor store do have some similarities. 

The biggest difference between buying a firearm and buying just about anything else is the background check. The FBI does the background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). 

BATF Form 4473 is filled out by the buyer. While not required, a Social Security number on the application is recommended. This helps more clearly identify the buyer. 

Once this is filled out, the FFL Business then contacts the FBI’s NICS center. The FFL holder can call in the information, 1-877-FBI-NICS (324-6427) or fax the application to 1-888-550-6427. The FBI does not have an online NICS for background checks. 

AN EXCEPTION 

In some states, having a firearms license will exempt the buyer from the background check. BATF has a complete list of states and US territories that meet the firearms license exemption requirement. 

Regardless, Form 4473 must be filled out. 

FFL TO FFL 

When selling a firearm to another FFL Business, the seller must have a copy of the buyer’s FFL. The transaction must be recorded in the firearms sales book. 

An exception in selling a firearm FFL Business to FFL Business is for the Type 06 FFL. This is a license to manufacture ammunition only. It does not give the buyer any rights to buy and sell firearms. 

The Type 03 license, collector of curio & relics, only allows the buyer to purchase guns that are at least 50 years old or designated as a curio and relic firearm. 

BATF maintains a list of guns that are specifically designated as curio and relic firearms. Many of these are limited edition firearms. A few have historical significance. 

DENIED 

The biggest customer service problem an FFL holder is likely to encounter is a denied application to buy a firearm. 

“The licensee should inform the transferee that the NICS check indicates that the transfer of the firearm should not be made, however the system does not provide a reason for the denial. The licensee should provide the transferee with the name and address of the denying agency and the NICS or State transaction number, and an appeals brochure created by the FBI or State POC outlining the transferee’s appeal rights and responsibilities,” says the BATF

Part of the BATF customer service recommendations to an FFL Business is having a card printed with information about the NICS and how to appeal that decision. The information on the card is on Page 233 of the Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide. Samples of how the card can look are on page 234. 

Forms to appeal the FBI decision are at the NICS Appeal website. 

Under federal law, a request to buy a firearm is rejected for the following reasons. The buyer: 

  • Has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year 
  • Is a fugitive from justice 
  • Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance 
  • Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution 
  • Is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States or who has been admitted to the United States under a non-immigrant visa 
  • Has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions 
  • Having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced U.S. citizenship 
  • Is subject to a court order that restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner 
  • Has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence 
  • Is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year 



RIGHT TO REFUSE 

An FFL holder has the right to refuse to sell a firearm. Several FFL holders addressed this issue on Quora. 

“As private business owners, [Federal Firearms License holders] can and do use discretion in determining to whom they will or will not provide service,” Ginger Colbrun, public affairs chief for the BATF told US News & World Report magazine. 

A good example of the right to refuse is found in New York City. The John Jovino gun store is owned by the same family that makes the current version of Henry Firearms. Reviews say the store is not big on customer service. 

“You don’t find a lot of retail businesses that officially turn away buyers. But when I visited the John Jovino Gun Shop, the city’s oldest, the mildest inquiry elicited a swift and gruff response. Show me your police identification, I was told, or goodbye. The store does not sell to civilians,” Ariel Kaminer wrote for the New York Times “Among the reasons this policy is remarkable is that it isn’t actually true. John Jovino does sell to civilians, as a subsequent phone call confirmed. But apparently it is not eager to do so.” 

Attorneys writing for the legal information website Avvo says the right to refuse a sale is qualified. “A private business does not HAVE to conduct business with anyone, and is free to refuse to do business with anyone, for any reason (except reasons associated with gender, race, sexual preference, etc. -- in some states),” writes attorney Robert S. Hogan. 

This right to refuse is not absolute according to others. UCLA School of Law Professor Eugene Volokh takes a look at age-based reasons for denying a gun purchase. A court case over age restrictions is in progress. 

What should an FFL Business do if the sale raises red flags but the buyer did pass the background check? Straw purchases, when a someone buys a gun for another person who is not eligible to have a gun, come to mind. 

A straw purchase is not the same thing as buying a gun as gift for someone. Provided the person getting the gun is legally allowed to own the gun, BATF says this is acceptable, even for people under 18

Rejecting a sale even if the person passes a background check is an individual decision. It needs to be based on the circumstances of each case. Prevailing opinions, even from the BATF, says the sale can be refused.




  1. How to Get an FFL
  2. FFL Application Process and Procedures
  3. Your FFL Transfer Fee
  4. Gun Wholesalers for FFL Dealers
  5. What Can You Do With an FFL?
  6. The FFL eZ Check System
  7. The NFA and Owning NFA Items
  8. Offline Firearms Marketing and Your FFL Business Plan
  9. Online Firearms Marketing and Your FFL Business Plan
  10. Pawn Shops and the Type 02 FFL
  11. FFL Responsibilities and Regulations
  12. BATF Will Approve Home Based FFLs
  13. Customer Service in Your FFL Business

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