If you’re considering purchasing a firearm from a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder, you will need to fill out ATF Form 4473. This form, officially known as the “Firearms Transaction Record,” is the paperwork to fill out when buying a new firearm. Yiu can download a copy of ATF Form 4473 here.
You may have seen it in the news lately because of the Hunter Biden controversy and the fact that he did not fill out the form truthfully. Let’s go through the process and see what it’s all about.
Who is the ATF?
“Who is the ATF, and why do they care about my firearm purchase?” The ATF, or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, oversees and regulates firearms in the United States. They want to ensure that firearms don’t fall into the wrong hands, and ATF Form 4473 is how they do it.
What is the federal “Firearms Transaction Record”?
When you want to buy a firearm from an FFL holder, they need to verify that you’re not a prohibited person. The form asks if you’ve been convicted of a crime that could restrict your firearm ownership.
The primary purpose of this form is to ensure that individuals who, by law, are prohibited from owning firearms, such as convicted felons, domestic violence offenders, illegal drug users, and those with certain mental health conditions, cannot buy guns.
What’s on the ATF Form 4473?
You have a couple of main sections on ATF Form 4473
Section A: Must Be Completed by Transferor or Seller
Firearm Details: The FFL will specify the firearm you want to purchase. It includes the make, model, serial number, type, and caliber or gauge.
Section B: Must Be Completed Personally by Transferee or Buyer
Personal Information: This section is all about you. You’ll provide your name, address, date of birth, and other basic details identifying you as a unique individual.
It features a section called “Certification,” where you basically say, “Hey, I’m not a criminal, and I’m not planning anything shady.”
Certification and Background Check: This section is all about confirming your eligibility. You’ll need to declare that you’re not a prohibited person and that the information you provide is true and accurate. The licensed dealer then performs a background check to verify your status.
They ask about restraining orders, mental health commitments, and even your history with controlled substances. Line 29 g. is where Hunter Biden went wrong, leading to his legal problems.
“Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the State where you reside.”
Finally, you sign the form and certify that your answers in Section B are true and complete. You have read and understand the Notices, Instructions, and Definitions on ATF Form 4473.
“I understand that answering “yes” to question 21.a. if I am not the actual transferee/buyer is a crime punishable as a felony under Federal law, and may also violate State and/or local law. I understand that a person who answers “yes” to any of the questions 21.b. through 21.m. is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm. I understand that a person who answers “yes” to question 21.n.1. is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm, unless the person answers “yes” to question 21.n.2. and provides the documentation required in 26.d. I also understand that making any false oral or written statement, or exhibiting any false or misrepresented identification with respect to this transaction, is a crime punishable as a felony under Federal law, and may also violate State and/or local law. I further understand that the repetitive purchase of firearms for the purpose of resale to predominantly earn a profit without a Federal firearms license is a violation of Federal law.”
NCIS Background Check Time
The FFL will put the information into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to get approval so that you can take the firearm with you.
There are three possible responses from the NICS system:
Proceed: They completed the buyer’s background check and found no disqualifying information. The purchase can proceed.
Delayed: Sometimes, they need more time to gather more information before deciding. This delay doesn’t mean they will deny the purchase; it just requires more time for review.
Denied: If the background check uncovers disqualifying information, such as felony convictions, restraining orders, or mental health commitments, the system will deny the purchase.
That’s it. At that point, if everything went through and you answered the form truthfully, you’re off to the range. Stay safe, stay informed, and keep enjoying your second amendment rights.