Daughter Kim and I had a meeting with ATF inspectors yesterday regarding the renewal of our license to manufacture high explosives.
We were just chatting about various changes and one of the inspectors said 4473s now have to be retained forever. The ATF website still says just 20 years. But that page hasn’t been updated since June of 2018.
I asked if congress changed the law or it was a regulation change by the ATF. She said, “I think it was just a regulation change.”
Looking at the law I think I see what they did:
(b) Firearms Transaction Record. Licensees shall retain each Form 4473 until business or licensed activity is discontinued, either on paper, or in an electronic alternate method approved by the Director, at the business premises readily accessible for inspection under this part. Paper forms over 20 years of age may be stored at a separate warehouse, which shall be considered part of the business premises for this purpose and subject to inspection under this part.
The law only references 20 years in the context of an alternate storage location. But, technically, says they must be kept forever. Apparently the ATF regulations originally just said, “Never mind what the law says, after 20 years no one cares.”
My guess is someone in the current administration decided anything to increase the hassle factor on gun dealers, even it there was no net benefit to society, was a good thing.