ATF Ruling 2016-2

ATF Ruling 2022-01 (Electronic Storage of Forms 4473) authorizes FFLs to retain an electronic version of each ATF Form 4473 created pursuant to ATF Ruling 2016-2 (or subsequent ruling), instead of the paper format, provided the conditions set forth in this ruling are met. Additionally, ATF authorizes digital scanning and electronic retention of certain paper ATF Form 4473, provided the conditions set forth in this ruling are met.

1. The licensee will follow the Notices, Instructions, and Definitions governing the
use of the OMB-approved version of the ATF Form 4473, and either: (a) acquires
and uses his/her own electronic Form 4473 software; or (b) downloads from
ATF’s website and saves to his/her computer ATF’s most current electronic
version of Form 4473, known as ATF e-Form 4473.

2. The e-Form 4473 displays clearly, on the same screen, or upon mouse-clicking a conspicuously displayed screen item, all of the Notices, Instructions, and Definitions contained on the current Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
approved ATF Form 4473.

3. The computer software must allow for a new e-Form 4473 to be created and
completed upon each transaction. The system cannot populate Section A from
previous transfers from the same transferee (buyer).

4. The transferee (buyer) of the firearm(s) must answer the questions for Section A of e-Form 4473 while physically present at the seller’s premises (to include a qualifying gun show or event). The questions presented on the computer screen must be legible, and contain the same wording as the current OMB-approved version of ATF Form 4473 (5300.9), Firearms Transaction Record. Where Form 4473 requires “checking” or “marking,” the transferee may mouse-click in an appropriate box to answer the question on the e-Form 4473. Where Form 4473 requires “printing” or “handwriting” the transferee may enter the information on the e-Form 4473.

5. The e-Form 4473 must allow the transferee to review and amend his/her answers until he/she selects or mouse-clicks a statement on the screen that he/she “agrees with and certifies” the same transferee certification statement as the current OMB-approved ATF Form 4473 (5300.9). Once the statement has been selected or mouse-clicked, the transferee can no longer make revisions to his/her answers.

6. The transferee (buyer) confirms his/her answers with his/her signature and date on the form, certifying that his/her answers are true, correct, and complete, and that he/she has read, understood, and complied with the conditions, notices, definitions, and instructions for the form.

7. The transferor (seller) of the firearm(s) enters the information into the licensee’s computer for Section B and Section D of the e-Form 4473. The questions presented on the computer screen must be legible, and contain the same wording as the current OMB-approved version of ATF Form 4473.

8. The transferee and transferor signatures on the e-Form 4473 may be electronic signatures captured via an electronic signature pad prior to printing or may be handwritten (ink) signatures on the printed copy of the e-Form 4473.

9. If the electronic signature pad breaks or fails to operate properly, the licensee must discontinue use of electronic signatures and obtain handwritten (ink) signatures on the OMB-approved ATF Form 4473 or the printed copy of the eForm 4473.

10. If the transferee (buyer) cannot read and/or write, another person, excluding the licensee or any employee of the licensee, may complete the answers. Two persons, other than the licensee or any employee of the licensee, must then sign as witnesses to the buyer’s answers and signature. The person who cannot read and/or write may electronically sign or mark the e-Form 4473. The two additional persons’ signatures must be handwritten in ink on the printed e-Form 4473.

11. All NICS or State POC related information must be entered accurately on the e-Form 4473 in the applicable fields. These entries can be made via electronic population (auto-population of the fields) or manual electronic entry (typing the information into the fields). They may also be handwritten onto the form after it is printed.

12. In order to electronically populate information related to the NICS background check, the FFL must contact the FBI NICS or appropriate State agency to request authorization to transfer specific NICS data from e-Check into the computerized system.

13. Pursuant to 27 CFR 478.102(d) and 27 CFR 478.131(a)(2), if an exception to theNICS or State POC check exists, the licensee must record such information on the ATF Form 4473 (i.e., if a transferee possesses a NICS or State POC exempt permit) in the applicable fields.

14. If the licensee wishes to maintain e-Forms 4473 for pending transactions, the forms must be downloaded from the system to a physical storage device (e.g.,hard drive, Digital Versatile Disc (DVD), server) at the licensee’s business premises, or printed and maintained at the licensee’s business premises:

  1. At least daily, in a format that is unencrypted with the required information readily apparent;

  2. Upon request of an ATF officer (must be provided within 24 hours);

  3. Prior to discontinuance or change of: the software (program); the database system, whether or not maintained by a host facility (e.g., remote server or cloud storage provider; and/or the host facility (if applicable); and

  4. Prior to discontinuance of the licensee’s firearms business.