How Long Does it Take to Get FFL and What Does ATF Look For?


October 13, 2004, 07:55 PM
I'm trying to convince my grandfather to get his FFL. He is a retired LEO and has NO criminal record.

So, how long does it take to get an FFL from the time of sending in the application? Also, what does the ATF look for?


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October 13, 2004, 08:01 PM
I just talked to the ATF this morning about this. I was told that it takes approximately two months, and that it can NOT be for personal use only. She said that there is not a certain number of sales per year that is required, but if you are not actively selling firearms "for a profit" they won't let you keep it. You don't need a store front, you don't need inventory, you just need to sell guns TO OTHER PEOPLE for a profit.

October 13, 2004, 09:37 PM
Very interesting. First the ATF decided to inspect and enforce zoning laws and local business licensing. Now they're concerned with accounting and profitability. Guess they need more to do.

October 13, 2004, 10:40 PM
Chut, I was very specific about the fact that I live in an apartment and I won't be able to have a store front. She said that the transactions and profitability were the primary concern. I asked her about transfers of firearms purchased elsewhere and she said that they count as sales, even though they don't generate much revenue. I'm getting my C&R for sure and I'm going to look into getting the "regular" FFL too.

October 14, 2004, 05:43 PM
That's good news, Mattz! I had an FFL years ago, and it came up for renewal when the Clintons were in office. One of the items on the renewal form was a requirement that I provide a letter from the local zoning board that my "business premises" was zoned for commercial activity. Since I worked out of my home, maintained no inventory and ordered guns only for myself and people I knew to be of good character, that wasn't appropriate or required. Rather than fight the Clinton-controlled BATF, I turned in my license.

Good luck to you in your endeavor. Hopefully, a change in administration won't occur to make the ATF once again focus on irrelevant criteria.

Fudgie Ghost
October 14, 2004, 05:55 PM
This girl is a THR member, and just got her FFL: email her, she may have information: this is her website,

I think her email is there, or look her up here under "members" , her THR name is Kitiara

October 14, 2004, 07:13 PM
The book that I got from the ATF today makes no mention of zoning or anything -- granted, I haven't read the whole book yet, it is kinda long and doesn't have any pictures :). This is a direct quote, "The term "engaged in business" as applied to a dealer in firearms refers, in part, to a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to engaging in such activity as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelyhood and profit." If I did get my dealer FFL, I would likely sell at $5 or $10 above cost and/or do transfers for $5 or $10 (everyone else locally is $25). I would be more satisfied by being an FFL holder than in taking people's money. Technically, however, I would still be making a profit and still within the rules.

October 14, 2004, 07:44 PM
Being an FFL holder in mutliple locations and states, maybe I can help.

Did you see that up there? That's the end all be all of your FFL life.
If you can't have retail locations, if you can't do MFG, if you can't run a business out of your home, you better find out first.
Now some towns don't care, but some states do, sometimes you can get a special permit, sometimes you can't. Talk with your zoning officer/building inspector, whoever before sending the application.
In some cases you can self limit your FFL (like saying NO RETAIL Sales) and skirt by Zoning...but find out first. (PS Clinton made this a BATFE priority)

2. Talk to your CLEO
Ultimately you will have to submit a copy of your application to your CLEO. Many people say this is just for notification, however the BATFE (your inspector in particular) will contact your CLEO at some point and in realit if your CLEO says no or "has information as to why you should not be issued an FFL) you are not going to get one.

3. State Laws
Ok so lets say that you have no problems with 1 and 2, check you state laws. In my home state of MA they have a provision that says you can NOT have an FFL in your home. In my home state and in NY were I have another license and shop, there are state firearms sales permits required.

4. Filling out the form
Order the complete form/kit from the BATFE. This will include your form, your fingerprint cards, a top cover instruction sheet and check list, a citizenship form, secure storage form, and I think that's it (it's been a while). NOTE: For 07's there is also a "waste plan" form.
Fill out the forms, pay special attention to hours of operation and what type of business. The only two types of business that DO not need hours listed are Gunsmith (although there is no "gunsmith FFL" per se) and firearms expert.
You can also download a "practice form" from Danbrew (

5. Depending on your biz plan and location they will look for slightly different things. If a "dealer" Type 01, they will look for the signs to be in place, they will look for an alarm, a safe, it's almost universal that guns can't be seen from the "street", and they will go over the various forms and procedures...takes about 1-2 hours.
if a MFG, they want to see the waste plan, seem interested in all the above and fire extinguishers and safety stuff. I've had a bunch of different inspectors over the years and each is a bit different.

6. Time
It should take anywhere form 1-3 motnhs for them to come out. After they come out you should get your FFL in the mail in about 2-4 weeks.
Make copies of it, store the original on premise, and NEVER sign the original.

If you want more detail just ask...these are the generalities that I have delt with over the years.

Jim K
October 14, 2004, 09:31 PM
It is true that there are no specific requirements that an applicant for a Dealer (Type 1) FFL have a business premises or comply with zoning laws, only that he/she will be engaging in business, defined as selling guns for profit.

However, BATFE has stated as a matter of policy, that they will not issue a license to anyone whose business will be violating state or local law. Based on that, they have refused to issue/renew dealer licenses to a location where engaging in business would violate zoning laws. Many people who operate out of their homes have obtained dealer licenses either because their area is not zoned (mostly rural areas) or the zoning laws permit certain businesses in residential zones.

AFAIK, they are still going by that rule. They say, correctly, that they do not require an applicant to have a business premises, but in fact they often do, indirectly. The CLEO is supposed to refuse to sign the application if the applicant would be violating any local law, and that would include zoning laws. If the CLEO signs and the licensee's business does violate zoning laws, the CLEO signature covers BATFE's a**, which is the whole and entire purpose of that signature on every application.

An Type 3 FFL (Collectors License) is a different ballgame. A collector is assumed to engage in the hobby in his/her home, and want the license to acquire and occasionally swap guns to enhance his/her collection, but NOT to conduct a business. In fact, it is illegal for a person to run a business under a Collectors License.


October 14, 2004, 11:29 PM
This makes me very interested in checking this out more..

Where can I download the apps and the info..


October 15, 2004, 09:09 AM
7. TAXES. You have to get a tax number, collect sales taxes, retain tax records and submit the money and paperwork to the applicable taxing authority.

8. LOCAL LICENSES. You need any state, county and city business licenses to operate, even from your home.

October 15, 2004, 10:00 AM
and decided to give it up when the big crackdown came during the Clinton admin. Sorry, I don't need that kind of intrusion to just make an extra 150 bucks/month. Had to have CLEO inspect my premisis, provide detail house plans on where inventory was stored, security measures, etc. If all you are wanting to do is buy some guns for you and friends, don't bother with it and just buy your guns at the gun show. Several dealers at the show could sell cheaper than I could by for.

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