FFL Meaning: How is it Used to Buy and Sell Guns?
guides

FFL Meaning: How is it Used to Buy and Sell Guns?

Wondering what the FFL means and how to get one? This guide explains everything, including what you can and can't do with an FFL....

Intro

Gun dealers and businesses often display the letters “FFL” on their websites and stores. So, what does FFL stand for?

FFL is an abbreviation that stands for federal firearms license. An FFL is required for anyone that engages in business dealing, manufacturing, or importing firearms. Federal firearms licenses are issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), which is also commonly called the ATF.

Whether you are buying or selling firearms, FFLs are an important consideration. Dealers must possess the appropriate license to legally sell firearms in the United States.

Yet, there are also some exceptions to the rule, such as the sale of a firearm from a personal collection. The legal aspects of buying, selling, and trading guns can be complex.

FFL Meaning

While FFL is sometimes used as a slang term for “falling from laughing”, it is mostly used as an abbreviation for federal firearms license (FFL).

To fully explore the meaning behind FFL, you need to understand the different types of licenses and when an FFL is required. Here is a detailed look at federal firearms licenses and how to apply for one.

What Is an FFL?

An FFL is a federal firearm license. The most common type of FFL is the Type 01 license, which is issued to dealers in firearms other than destructive devices. This covers handguns, rifles, and other commonly sold firearms.

Under the Federal Gun Control Act (GCA), anyone engaged in the business of selling firearms must obtain a license from the ATF. Failure to comply with federal regulations may result in fines up to $250,000 and/or five years in prison.

A license is typically required for anyone that repeatedly buys and sells firearms with the intention of making a profit. If you represent yourself as a gun dealer, you likely need an FFL. However, if you only occasionally sell firearms from your personal collection, you may not require a license.

Why an FFL Is Required to Buy or Sell a Gun

Over 52,000 individuals and businesses have Type 01 FFLs. FFL holders agree to follow specific procedures during the sale of a firearm. Each transaction is referred to as an FFL transfer.

During the FFL transfer process, the FFL licensee (FFLL) contacts the FBI or a state agency to initiate a background check, allowing the government to keep tabs on the sale of all firearms and maintain gun control standards.

The licensing process allows the ATF to better regulate the firearms industry and decrease the occurrence of stolen or trafficked guns.

The Process of Buying a Gun Through an FFL

The FFL transfer process includes several steps to ensure compliance with all federal and state laws. The transfer process also helps track the transfer of firearms in the United States. The steps involved typically include:

  • The FFL dealer receives a firearm
  • The buyer fills out ATF Form 4473
  • Any required state forms are completed
  • The FFL dealer completes a background check
  • The FFL transfer is approved or denied

The government requires gun dealers to maintain a record of gun transactions by filling out ATF Form 4473. ATF Form 4473 (Firearms Transaction Record) requires the dealer and buyer to answer questions and fill out certain details, such as the model and the serial number of the firearm, and the address of the buyer.

Along with maintaining a log of Firearms Transaction Records, the FFL dealer must run a personal background check before completing the transaction. The background check is completed using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

In 37 states, the FFL holder contacts the FBI to complete the background check. In Washington, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Maryland, Nebraska, and North Carolina, the FFL holder contacts the FBI for long gun purchases and the state for handgun purchases. In the remaining 13 states, the FFL holder contacts the state. The state then contacts the FBI to complete the background check.

The FBI may approve or deny the firearm transaction depending on the buyer’s background. Transactions are automatically denied for the following reasons:

  • Felony convictions
  • Fugitive status
  • Undocumented citizen status
  • Currently facing criminal charges
  • Domestic violence, harassment, and stalking charges
  • Drug convictions or documented addiction
  • Documented mental illness or institutionalization

The FBI may also deny a transaction due to database errors, paperwork errors, and mistaken identity. For example, your name or personal details may closely match a disqualified individual, resulting in a denial. If a buyer believes that they have received an unfair denial, they can request an appeal.

If the transfer is approved, the FFL dealer may complete the transaction. In most cases, the NICS check only takes a few minutes. However, some background checks result in denial or delays.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your Federal Firearms License

atm form 4473 ffl meaning

Applying for a Federal firearms license requires the completion of the Application for License (FFL) – ATF Form 7/7CR. The form requires you to list your name, type of business activity, and the type of license that you want to obtain.

You also need to provide a method of payment for the license fee. The Type 01 and Type 02 licenses cost $200. The Type 03 and Type 06 licenses cost $30. The Type 07 and Type 08 licenses cost $150. The remaining licenses are for destructive devices and cost $3,000.

Most applications are sent to a PO box for the Federal Firearms Licensing Center (FFLC) in Portland, Oregon. You must also affix a 2×2-inch photograph of yourself on the application form.

Applications for Type 03 licenses are relatively simple. You need to provide a photocopy of your ID, fill out the application, and pay a fee. If you pass the background check, you receive a license. The application process for any other type of Federal Firearms License (FFL) involves more steps:

  • Fill out the application form
  • The FFLC reviews your application
  • The FFLC completes a background check
  • The ATF field office arranges an in-person interview
  • The FFLC and ATF approve or deny the application

The FFLC reviews your application to ensure that you provided all necessary information and meet the eligibility requirements. The FFLC then conducts a thorough background check. Criminal convictions, a history of drug abuse, or a history of mental illness can result in the denial of the application.

How Long Does It Take to Get an FFL?

The entire process typically takes 60 days. However, dealers may also need to comply with state laws and licensing requirements to sell firearms, which can extend the timeframe for obtaining all necessary licenses. The following states require dealers to obtain a state license to sell firearms:

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington
  • District of Columbia

Along with the state license, dealers must obtain a valid license. Several additional states also require a state license to engage in the retail sale of handguns but not rifles. For example, in Alabama, you need a state and federal license to sell pistols but only a federal license to sell rifles.

FFL License Requirements

Before applying for an FFL, dealers must ensure that they meet the basic FFL eligibility requirements:

  • US citizen or legal permanent resident
  • At least 21 years of age
  • No felony convictions
  • No illegal drug usage
  • No domestic violence convictions
  • No previous violations of Federal gun laws

You must also operate out of a physical location, even when selling a firearm online. You must provide a physical address where you intend to store the firearms in your inventory.

The license requirements also vary depending on whether you are applying as an individual or a business…

FFL Requirements for Individuals

If you are not currently an FFL holder and plan on selling a firearm to another individual, you may not need an FFL. However, not all states allow private sales of firearms.

You are also prohibited from selling a firearm to an individual in another state without working with a licensed dealer. If you have a gun in your private collection that you want to sell to another resident of your state, you should first check your state laws.

For example, the state of California requires you to work with a licensed firearms dealer to complete a private sale. In Connecticut, you need to contact the state to receive authorization to transfer a gun during a private sale. In Michigan, the buyer must obtain a permit to purchase a firearm from a private individual.

If you are an individual applying for a federal firearms license, you must check “Individual Owner” as the applicant’s business activity.

Under the licensee name, you include your name. If you do not have an Employer Identification Number (EIN), leave field 4 of Part A blank. However, you must include your social security number under Part B of the application form.

Under the sections requiring you to list your business address, you may include your home address, if your state permits you to sell guns from a private residence.

FFL Requirements for Businesses/Entities

If you are applying for an FFL as a business or corporate entity, you need to supply details related to your business activities on the application form. For example, you need to provide the address, phone number, and type of business activity for your business.

If you are conducting a business that includes partners, shareholders, or corporate officers, each responsible person must fill out Part B of the application form – Responsible Persons Questionnaire.

The questionnaire determines whether background checks are needed for any responsible persons connected to your business.

State-Level Requirements for FFLs

Whether you are an individual or a business, you may need a state license to sell firearms. Many states require you to obtain a separate state-issued license to sell firearms, along with the FFL from the federal government. Other states only require the FFL.

For example, California requires all firearms sales to go through a licensed dealer when the buyer and the seller do not hold federal firearms licenses. Similar laws exist in Connecticut, Colorado, and many other states.

Some states also have separate requirements for handguns and long guns (rifles and shotguns). For example, in Connecticut, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) handles the authorization of handgun sales while an FFL is needed to buy rifles or shotguns.

FFL License Types – Which FFL Should You Get?

atf types of federal firearms licenses
Photo Credit – ATF

Federal firearms licenses are issued through the ATF’s Federal Firearms Licensing Center (FFLC). The FFLC reviews and approves or denies all types of FFL applications. There are currently nine types of federal firearms licenses:

  • Type 01 FFL – Dealer of firearms other than destructive devices
  • Type 02 FFL – Pawnbroker of firearms other than destructive devices
  • Type 03 FFL – Collector of curios and relics
  • Type 06 FFL – Manufacturer of ammunition
  • Type 07 FFL – Manufacturer of firearms other than destructive devices
  • Type 08 FFL – Importer of firearms other than destructive devices
  • Type 09 FFL – Dealer in destructive devices
  • Type 10 FFL – Manufacturer of destructive devices
  • Type 11 FFL – Importer of destructive devices

Dealers, manufacturers, and importers receive separate licenses to cover each stage of the transfer of the manufacturing, shipping, and sale of firearms. Licenses are also placed in separate categories for firearms and destructive devices.

The firearms licenses cover all types of handguns, long guns, and non-destructive devices. Destructive devices include grenades, grenade launchers, most artillery weapons, and some firearms with a bore of over 0.50 inches.

The Type 01 federal firearms license is the most common type of license, as it is used for almost all firearms sales at gun shops, gun shows, flea markets, and through the internet.

The Type 02 license is also used for the sale of firearms but is only intended for pawnbrokers. Pawnbrokers deal with different licensing processes, as they are permitted to take possession of firearms as security on loans.

The Type 03 license is used for the transfer of antique weapons. Most firearms that are at least 50 years old may qualify as a curio or relic. It is intended for personal use. It is not a license to sell firearms. Personal collectors obtain the Type 03 license when purchasing an older weapon from a qualified dealer.

The Type 09 license is used by dealers involved in the sale of destructive devices. The remaining licenses are used by manufacturers and importers for producing firearms and shipping firearms into the United States. A dealer license is still required for the sale of the firearm.

Business Intent FFL Requirement

Federal firearms licenses are required when selling firearms with the intent of making a profit. If you do not have a business intent and only intend on occasionally selling a gun from your private collection, the federal government does not require you to obtain an FFL.

Yet, if you want to avoid any potential liabilities, obtaining an FFL is recommended. When it comes to listing your “business intent”, you can state that you intend to complete occasional sales of firearms from your inventory.

Gun dealers and businesses often display the letters “FFL” on their websites and stores. So, what does FFL stand for?

FFL is an abbreviation that stands for federal firearms license. An FFL is required for anyone that engages in business dealing, manufacturing, or importing firearms. Federal firearms licenses are issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), which is also commonly called the ATF.

Whether you are buying or selling firearms, FFLs are an important consideration. Dealers must possess the appropriate license to legally sell firearms in the United States.

Yet, there are also some exceptions to the rule, such as the sale of a firearm from a personal collection. The legal aspects of buying, selling, and trading guns can be complex.

Fastbound: An ATF Compliance Software

“Thank you for your interest in Fastbound — the most compliant attorney-backed A&D, 4473, and ATF compliance software used by thousands of FFLs since 2010! If you haven’t already signed up for a trial, we invite you to try Fastbound for free. We don’t require a credit card, and we don’t believe in contracts. With plans starting at $8 per month, whether you’re just getting started, have hundreds of stores, or anything in between, Fastbound has a plan that is just right for you. You can also schedule a live demo at your convenience; let us show you how Fastbound can save you time, save you money, and make your next audit a breeze.”

avatar

Hi there, I'm Brady and I'm the owner of GunMade.com. I have been an avid gun enthusiast and hunter since I moved to the Midwest over 15 years ago. It's my passion to share my knowledge and expertise to help you find the best guns in your price range.

Related Articles

Explore More GunMade

Gun Deals! Get the best gun and ammo DEALS that are out there right now! Enter your email below and we will send them straight to your inbox!