The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is not doing much to repair its fractious relationship with gun shop owners. Reports from Alaska suggest that the ATF is engaging in illegal activity, requesting reams of paperwork from Federal Firearm Licensees (FFL) without legal justification.
Examiner.com has reported that an ATF agent walked into Great Northern Guns in Alaska last month and asked the store owner, Frank Caiazza, to turn over all his sales records dating back to 2007.
Caiazza told the agent, “No, you don’t have the legal right to do that.”
The unidentified ATF agent said “thanks” and then allegedly revealed that he had gotten one or two other gun stores to comply with his request, according to the Examiner.com.
Apparently, the ATF agent was trying to get Anchorage store owners to relinquish their Firearms Transactions Records or Form 4473s, dating back to 2007.
Form 4473 is the official document that must filled out when a person purchases a firearm from an FFL.
The form is not technically considered to be a registration form, but rather a sales form that contains one’s name, address, date of birth, a copy of one’s ID, the result of the NICS background check, the make/model/serial number of the firearm, and a signed affidavit that the purchaser is eligible to own the gun under federal law.
The FFL is required by law to keep the Form 4473s in a bound-book for as long as he/she remains in business. Once the store closes down or the owner retires, he/she must surrender the records to the ATF.
The ATF is allowed to inspect an owner’s bound-book or request a copy of the Form 4473 only during the course of a criminal investigation. Otherwise, that information is supposed to remain private – in a FFL’s possession – and away from the hands of the government (hence, the distinction between ‘sales form’ and ‘registration form’).
But the unidentified ATF agent was not conducting a criminal investigation, which is why those Alaskan store owners felt incensed.
Is the ATF trying to retrieve sales records to set up a de-facto gun registry?
Instead of taking any chances and waiting to see what happens, the folks over at Ammoland have put together a list of senators and congressmen to contact about this bizarre, if not illegal, conduct by the ATF.
As Mr. Caiazza pointed out to Examiner.com, the most alarming aspect of this developing story is that “if they’re doing it to us, they’re doing it to others up here, and probably doing it outside (of Alaska).”
In short, spread the word. Tell your local gun store to be wary of strange requests from ATF officials.
We’ll continue to keep you updated on this story.
ATF photos courtesy of John Mccusker / NOLA