Inspections by government agents

Under current Federal law the ATF is authorized to inspect Federal Firearm License holders (FFLs), unannounced, up to once per year and to do audits of their records. Every single gun must be accounted for by manufacture, model, and serial number. The FFL will face consequences if some buy wrote “N” and “Y” instead of “Yes” and “No”, they failed to include the county of residence in addition to the city, state and Zip Code, or they used the abbreviation “MINN” instead of spelling out “Minneapolis” in the small box for the city name. The FFL must record the NICS Transaction Number (NTN) on line 21b of the ATF Form 4473 and retain the form for auditing purposes. Form 4473 must be retained for 20 years.


Imagine if we had a Federal Book License holders (FBLs) and similar record keeping requirements. Would the book banners be able to claim such regulations were “common sense” and justified?


Imagine if the IRS were authorized one unannounced inspection and audit, without cause, of every taxpayer per year. Would people tolerate that?


Why is it that the specific enumerated right to keep and bear arms can be so heavily regulated when the Second Amendment explicitly says “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”? Is there anyone surprised gun owners are pushing back and winning?

10 thoughts on “Inspections by government agents

  1. The newer 4473’s, the ones that came out about 2 years ago, now state that you can use Y/N on the questions and abbreviations are allowed in the postal address.

    Took way too long for that to happen, IMHO.

  2. What does the governing statute and the specific rule in the CFR say? Do you trust the ATF and the courts to abide by what’s on the form if the laws and regulations say differently?

  3. Imagine if the IRS were authorized one unannounced inspection and audit of a taxpayer per year. Would people tolerate that?

    I think you meant to say every taxpayer… If the IRS could only audit one taxpayer per year, most people would sing huzzahs.

  4. Just don’t expect the government to keep records that precise.
    It would be fun, for a congressman to demand the expense records and time sheets of some of the ATF inspectors. I say a congressman because ATF doesn’t have to release that type of records to a FOIA request, by congress has given themselves the power to obtain records.

  5. The IRS is authorized to audit and inspect the records of every US taxpayer on US soil. It is their budget, not Congress, that limits their reach.

  6. I’ve run a business for over 30 years, which keeps a computerized database of serial numbered inventory, sells or rents said inventory, repairs, and loans instruments to repair customers. At the end of every year we end up with a “missing instruments” list, containing inventory that is unaccounted for. Then there is the “derelict inventory list” to and from which a single item might pass more than once (it is unserviceable until some major effort is put into it, or it’s parted out in-house, sold for parts, etc.).

    When you’re taking in derelict instruments that may or may not be serviceable, held for parts, or that are a mix of different serial numbers, taking in instruments for repair that may or may not be worth repairing, repairing instruments that may or may not ever be picked up by the customer, trading stock for stock, etc. (there are a limitless number of scenarios that crop up) things are not so cut and dried as some do-nothing bureaucrat who’s hardly ever held an honest job might wish. And is it really anyone’s business but ours?

    We’ll rent out several instruments to one community, to find out later that one of them was returned with mixed serial numbers (one kid in the same class somehow inadvertently swapped major parts with another kid who had the same model). There’s no end to this kind of thing when you run a full service shop. The way in which you can end up with missing or unaccounted inventory outstrips the imagination.

    Bottom line is, and I believe this is the primary intent, that if we had to comply with AFT style restrictions on musical instruments, we’d never be able to offer the customer the kind of flexible and accommodating service we do now, and certainly the cost would be higher. Alternatively (and this is the secondary intent) we’d have to cook the books to make them look clean and tidy, thereby exposing ourselves to charges of misconduct. Now put on your arm bands and make sure they stay clean, no matter what, or else.

  7. Incidentally, this causes problems in Virginia because we have independent cities as well as counties. I’ve gotten into arguments with sales clerks when they tell me I need to list my county of residence as well and I have to point out that I don’t have any county to list. I’ve started putting “City of [my city]” in the County box and that seems to pacify them somewhat. Still, at least twice I’ve had the gun dealer give me a frantic call a month down the line saying that they really, really need me to come in and do something about my form.

  8. The 4473’s are backdoor registration. Remember Red Dawn, where the invading commies went through the 4473’s to find out who had weapons and would be likely to resist, then sent them all to re-education camp? I know it’s just a movie, but you can’t tell me it couldn’t be done if someone in charge had a mind to…

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