The requirements for getting an FFL (Federal Firearms License) have not changed significantly since about 1993. Although federal legislation affecting FFLs conduct of business has been implemented, little has changed in many years with respect to the qualifications to get a Federal Firearms License. There have been some policy/procedural changes in the way ATF qualifies a business, and there have been changes to the format of the ATF F 7 to better incorporate policy, etc. But essentially, the requirements of the law have remained the same.
New ATF F 7 May 2017
In May 2017, ATF posted a modified version of the ATF F 7 that incorporates elements of the ATF F 7 CR (Curio and Relic). All FFL applicants must use this newly revised form (MAY 2017) when applying for a Federal Firearms License. Some of the questions on the form have been modified to better reflect evolving positions of the Agency respecting gun show sales in particular. One significant change is the requirement for every Responsible Person to execute a unique questionnaire that requires more identifying information as well as a signature. In general, the form is more complex, and includes subtle indications of an evolving policy with respect to licensing requirements.
The new form also includes the same warning that was recently incorporated into the ATF F 4473 concerning the use of legally prescribed marijuana in accordance with state law. A reminder to applicants that if they posses a card issued by their state allowing them to use cannabis as medicine in accordance with the laws of the state in which they reside, the federal government will consider them to be an “unlawful user” of a controlled substance. Theoretically, an applicant who possesses such a card must check “Yes” in this block; indicating they are prohibited from acquiring and possessing firearms under federal law.
Another significant addition to the May 2017 ATF F 7 is the instruction indicating the possible requirement for applicants who are qualified as a manufacturer (Types 06, 07, or 10) to register with the Directorate of Defense Trade Control (DDTC). Although the registration requirement has been in place for many years, the ATF F 7 did not include this notice until May 2017. Furthermore, the language states that applicants “intending to manufacture…”may need to register with DDTC. This statement appears to contradict the July 2016 directive from DDTC which states that federal firearms licensees who actually engage in the manufacture or export of Munitions List items will need to register.
The language used in the “Manufacturing” instruction of the May 2017 ATF F 7 indicates that ATF is attempting to ensure that all applicants understand the possible requirements, and are clearly on notice that the DDTC registration will be required if one holds a license to manufacture Munitions List items. The ATF investigator conducting a Qualification Inspection should discuss this requirement with applicants, and advise them properly. However, since there appears to be a language difference in the directive from DDTC, it would be prudent to contact DDTC if there are any questions along these lines.
It would also be prudent for you to read the directive from DDTC
and ensure that the work you’re engaged in qualifies as manufacturing per DDTC standards. In light of developing technologies that government regulations usually can’t keep up with, it is possible that ATF will consider one process or activity as manufacturing, and DDTC will not. Again, it’s recommended that you contact DDTC directly if there are any questions about registration. Although ATF Investigators have expertise in this area, the Department of State (DDTC) has enforcement powers over ITAR specifically.
There are some other overt changes to the form; as well as some nuanced changes that possibly indicate internal ATF policy and enforcement changes. Some of these may be discussed here at a later time.