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FFL records requests fees


BlackhawkPaul

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Friend of mine is a large urban FFL. Gets constant records requests from police and BATFE to look up records. Some of the requests look like far-out fishing expeditions by bored investigators trying to justify their existence. Privacy issues aside, can an FFL ask for fees when LE asks for records? Fees might sober up some of the requessts. BATFE charges $37.50 per gun to look up records from closed defunct FFL records!

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I find the BATFE very helpful every time I have questions.

 

I suggest calling them and explaining what the police department is doing (have numbers of how many requests) and ask if a fee for your time to research can be charged. I would also ask if I could require all requests in writing from the police dept. This is to protect me. I would want original paper trail from police request explaining exactly what they want.

 

I would also ask if the BATFE wouldn't mind providing their information in writing so I could show it to PD.

 

We're dealing with governmental offices. I want everything in writing from them because verbal doesn't hold much credibility when dealing with government.

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You are required by law to produce the records upon request by any ATF agent. If a local PD or Sheriff makes the request and you tell them that you have a fee that must be paid then you could be in trouble. They only have to go to a local judge and secure a subpena duces tecum which requires you to hand over any files they request. If you refuse the order the court will have a fine and some jail time waiting. I would think that working with the LEO's is much easier way to go

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I would advise extreme caution.

Your friend may want to charge.

BUT think about the consequence if they (BATFE or local LEO) decide to execute their "rights" under the law pertaining to firearm information access.

They could become a regular pest at his shop.

Piss off the BATFE and they could do audits endlessly.

 

Bad telephone connections might tend to get requests in writing.

But do you want warrants, agents visiting your shop, etc.

 

 

 

Best answer would be to hire a good attorney to search state and federal cases to see if a ruling has been made.

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The following is an opinion. I'm not an attorney and I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

 

I would hope that we would be unable to put "privacy issues aside." While I'm all about cooperating with LE within the law, there's a reason a judge must sign off on various things before an officer or department can act. As an FFL, I would think any request from the BATF would be acted upon without hesitation and without thoughts of charging them. The advice to ask the BATF about what to do otherwise, I think, is good advice. I wouldn't want some thug owning my gun store (or yours) because his privacy was violated. We live in a sue-happy, crazy-logic world. Even though the lady that spilled hot McDonald's coffee in her lap ultimately got nothing, I would bet that McDonald's would have preferred to avoid the situation and an FFL would be equally happy to avoid an unnecessary situation.

 

Ultimately, IMO, a LEO should not have a problem with being asked to operate within the law and not be offended that an FFL is not willing to pass out confidential information without due process being followed. If due process is being followed, then no, I don't think it is appropriate to charge the LE agency, but if due process is followed, then that might reduce the request. If there is no due process to get this information, there should be. That's just my opinion.

 

Fear of pissing off the LEO, now that's comforting. Exactly my point as to why there should be a process that must followed to avoid them acting on a grudge.

 

I mean no offense to the great majority of LEO's who operate within the law. They have my full support.

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Get guidance from the BATFE office for starters and if they say you can charge a paperwork fee for the time spent doing the research I'd advise the head of whatever department is making the requests and come to some agreement. If the BATFE says any non-BATFE agency that wants the records can have them get it in writing and forward it to the chief etc. Even if a subpoena isnt required I'd still ask for something in writing, or electronically, as a CYA. We required a "desk letter" from depts that wanted reports we could legally release, anything else had to be on a subpoena. Copies of the request letter, email actually, went into the case file and a copy was kept in a seperate file as well, again as a CYA.

 

Were they my records I'd be pissed unless someone had an active investigation or even a grand jury indictment before they asked what guns I'd bought from who, when and where.

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There is a publication by the "ATF/US Dept of Justice" titled "ATF State Laws and Published Ordinances - Firearms" that lists the laws.

The version I have is dated 2006 27th edition.

 

ATF Publication 5300.5

Revised September 2007

 

For Colorado in this book I could only locate one sentance about records information.

"The record book shall be open at all times to the inspection of any duly authorized police officer."

 

My questions that go along with this are what constitutes "duly authorized police officer".

Does that mean CBI my county sheriffs office and city only.

Does that mean/include LEO from non-local counties?

Does it mean LEO from another state?

 

In any event it does not state that I must do research at my time.

 

Open at all times that is kinda scary.

What about at 3 am.

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There is a publication by the "ATF/US Dept of Justice" titled "ATF State Laws and Published Ordinances - Firearms" that lists the laws.

The version I have is dated 2006 27th edition.

 

ATF Publication 5300.5

Revised September 2007

 

For Colorado in this book I could only locate one sentance about records information.

"The record book shall be open at all times to the inspection of any duly authorized police officer."

 

My questions that go along with this are what constitutes "duly authorized police officer".

Does that mean CBI my county sheriffs office and city only.

Does that mean/include LEO from non-local counties?

Does it mean LEO from another state?

 

In any event it does not state that I must do research at my time.

 

Open at all times that is kinda scary.

What about at 3 am.

 

 

If that's the law in CO, it says what it says. It does NOT say any time Joe Copper decides to make the FFL hop to just because he wants to know who, if, whatever regarding any guns around the area, that the FFL has to do a darned thing except make the record available for inspection. That don't mean the FFL has to research anything. It means the FFL can say to Joe Copper, "come on down and look in the book". NOW Mr Copper has a choice. Is it worth driving over there and actually looking at the book? If yes, rock on. If it's a nut cracking exercize, probably not.

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As a former LEO let me say this as I see some of you are mighty close to a us verses them position. I have seen this from both sides as I worked in a gun store for many years while being a reserve officer. I took some classes at LSU and became a full time LEO for 15 years. While working in Narcotics Division for over 6 years I or one of my fellow agents were always in touch with ATF and gun stores. We would run search warrants for drugs and always find guns. There are two reasons for finding guns at drug dealers, one is that junkies trade them for drugs and the other is that several people who are in drugs do burglaries. When I was in Uniform Patrol I worked several burglaries where the victims had no idea what the serial numbers were. I have had several people who did not know what the serial numbers were but could provide the name of the dealer where it was purchased. We would from time to time call a dealer and request a time that was good for them and then go and do a records search. When we returned the guns to the rightful owners they were very happy that we took time to look. If you ever lose a nice gun and then have it returned you will be glad that some cop took time to care. They could and do say that's too much crap and do nothing. The police are trying to help with the search and no one is going to every dealer and making notes of each sale. That is not legal and would be of no benefit to that LEO. I myself had a S&W 9MM pistol that I made and purchased after one of my many schools returned to me after a theft some 7 years after. I was more than happy to hear from that ATF agent. There is good and bad every where but let's not group all of any one class as being out to get us.Later David

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Agree with Fairshake.

 

As an FFL, the BATFE has access to my facility 24 x 7. That's the way it is. Deal with it.

 

ANY LEO who requests information by phone or in person will be given assistance immediately. That's the way I am.

 

You never know when a request responded to in a timely manner will result in the arrest or prosecution of a dirtbag.

 

Quit bitching and fight the good fight.

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And BHP? If your friend is getting that many requests for records, maybe he oughta tighten up his own 'gatekeeping' administration at the shop. Just because you can sell a gun doesn't mean you should.

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Fairshake, isn't it possible that leo could reunite a stolen firearm based solely upon the search of unsolved firearm thefts versus 4473 and bound volume searches.

After all we have the right to sell firearms outside of the 4473 path.

 

Manatee, How many times has the atf or or leo actually come to your shop outside of normal business hours, vs normal business hours?

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LEO's come all the time....but that's for work I do for them.

 

ATF...tracing center calls occur after 5....but I don't get many.

 

Hacker: the easiest way to trace origin on a gun is to know s/n and mfr. The trace can then go: mfr/distributor-wholesaler, ffl-retailer, end user. It is then up to the end user to provide info from that point forward. Sometimes with a visit from a LEO. Sometimes not.

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I've spend the last 30 years in LE and over half of that time in Criminal Investigations. The only reasons local law enforcement would wanting to look at a 4473 is because they either recovered a gun or a gun was used in a crime and they are trying to figure out who it belongs to. If your worried about your personal information, There are much better data bases to use to find out about everything from what kind of cars you drive, your credit card balances, home mortgage, employer etc. Guess what, these data bases are run by the private sector. People are always worried about the government and their computer data bases. I can tell you that the right hand doesn't talk to the left hand. Now the private sector, those are the ones that collect, organize, and SELL all the really personal data.

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