How To Get your Federal Firearms License

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how to get your federal firearms license
One of the first questions we hear from those interested in becoming a gunsmith is if they must get a Federal Firearms License (FFL). The answer is yes. No matter what business you are in, if you buy, sell or repair guns you are required under federal law to get a FFL.

In the following article, you will be given a crash course on the Federal Firearms License. Some of the topics covered will include what the requirements are and why it is a good thing to have one. We will also give a step by step process on how to get your own Federal Firearms License.

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What is a Federal Firearms License?

The Federal Firearms License was originally implemented under the Firearms Act of 1938. This law was originally set up as part of a process to regulation the interstate shipment of ammunition and firearms by those who were not permitted to do so (unlicensed dealers and manufacturers). It also prohibited the sale of firearms and ammunition to convicted felons, called for firearms markings and strict record keeping requirements.

The FFL law was revamped a little when the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA68) was signed in to law by then President Lyndon B. Johnson. The primary reason for GCA68 was regulate the interstate trade of firearms and ammunition except by those permitted and holding a FFL. It also enlarged the categories of those people not eligible for a Federal Firearms License.

Although gun ownership may vary between cities and states, the Federal Firearms License, also known as the FFL, is a requirement for some. The FFL license is needed for anyone involved in the sale, manufacturing and repairing of firearms and or ammunition. More than likely, if you plan on becoming a gunsmith you will be required to obtain a FFL in order to do your business legally.

While we don’t always agree with ways to limit our access to firearms, the FFL is necessary in our humble opinions. In the tabs below you will find more information about how to obtain a Federal Firearms License, the requirements and the different types. Click on each tab to learn more.

How to Get?Requirements?Different Types?Why Should I?

How Can I Get a FFL?

We’re not going to lie to you, the process to get your Federal Firearms License can be a big pain in the rear end. It feels like it is never going to end and you in a way you feel like you are under a microscope. There is a lot of paperwork that seems like it difficult to complete, but in reality the process is more in your mind than it being that difficult.

Here is a rundown of the steps you will need to complete in order to get your Federal Firearms License.

  • Meet the requirements (see tab on requirements)
  • Your projected business must meet local and state regulations or it will be denied
  • You must also be able to provide a real address in which you will do your business from, in other words you cannot use a PO Box
  • You also must claim that a majority of your business will come from non-family members
  • You will need to get the right forms from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) through their website, contacting your local ATF office or by calling the ATF Distribution Center (202) 648-6420
  • You will also want to check to see how much your application will be since the price differs depending on what exactly you plan on your Federal Firearms License for
  • Most people will need to get ATF Form 7 unless you are dealing with antique firearms then you will need ATF Form 7 CR
  • Completely fill out the application forms, do not hold anything back or make false statements
  • Next step is get a standard FBI Fingerprint form FD-258 and get fingerprinted by your local law enforcement
  • You will also need a passport-sized photograph of yourself taken within the last 6 months
  • Make sure you write your full name on the back of the photograph
  • Go to the local print shop like a Kinko’s and make a copy of your FFL application form, photo and fingerprints
  • Make out a check or get your credit/debit card information and place it with your application form, photograph and fingerprints in an envelope
  • Mail all of this in to: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, PO Box 409567, Atlanta, GA 303384-9567
  • After you have mailed your application, take the copies you made and submit them to your local Chief Law Enforcement Office (CLEO)
  • Prepare you and your business for a live inspection by an ATF officer
  • The application process can take up to 60 days before you get your own Federal Firearms License
  • Occasionally this process can take longer if there are certain issues such as the local ATF office cannot get ahold of you for an interview/inspection or if there is an issue with the required background check

What are the Requirements for a Federal Firearms License?

You already know that in order to get your Federal Firearms License, you will need to meet certain requirements. These requirements may be different than your local or state laws on gun ownership nor having a Federal Firearms License permit you to own a gun. Check out the list of requirements below.

  • You must be at least 21 years old
  • You are a resident in the state you intend to have your business or have a business location
  • You are in the United States legally (not an illegal alien)
  • You have never been charged or convicted for breaking any of the federal firearms laws
  • You are not a convicted felon or have been convicted of a crime that required you to be imprisoned for more than 1 year
  • You currently do have or ever have had a restraining order placed against you for harassment or stalking of a spouse, child or intimate partner
  • All controlled substances are legally prescribed and you are not addicted to these substances
  • You are not nor ever been committed to a mental institution
  • You have never been diagnosed with mental illness
  • You have never been dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces

Types of FFLs?

When you are getting ready to fill out your Federal Firearms License application, you will need to know which type of license you are going for. Currently there are 9 different types of FFLs for you to choose from depending on your reasons for getting the license. If you are looking to become a gunsmith, then most likely you are interested in type 1 Federal Firearms License.

Here is a complete list of the different types and a brief explanation:

Federal Firearms License Types
Type Description
01 Gunsmiths and Firearms Dealers (non-destructive devices)
02 Pawnbroker Firearms dealers (non-destructive devices)
03 Curios and Relics Collectors
06 Ammunition For Firearms Manufacturers
07 Firearms Manufacturers (non-destructive devices)
08 Firearms Importer (non-destructive devices)
09 Destructive Devices Dealers
10 Destructive Device Manufacturer

*Destructive Devices are defined in 26 U.S. Code 5845

Why Get a FFL?

Basically it is the law. The Federal Firearms License is required for anyone who works in the firearms industry including jobs such as dealers, pawnbrokers, collectors and manufacturers. While we most certainly do our darnedest to fight against more regulations when it comes to firearms, but the Federal Firearms License is a good thing since it can help protect our livelihood and hobby from others.

Here are our top 5 reasons why getting a Federal Firearms License may be right for you.

  • As a FFL holder, you can help stop criminals from selling or being able to purchase firearms
  • You are eligible to buy from firearms wholesalers and manufacturers with your FFL which can save you some major dollars
  • Since there isn’t a national database for firearms serial numbers, you can help law enforcement nab the baddies
  • You can stop straw purchases which turns keeps people who could not pass the background check from getting their hands on some guns
  • Since you are a piece of the puzzle in helping prevent gun crimes, you are a righteous example of why we do not need stricter gun control laws (maybe the most important one)

So What Are You Waiting For?

If you are planning to have a career in gunsmithing as a part-time or full-time job, then a Federal Firearms License is required. You can see by the steps on how to get your FFL that it can be cumbersome but in reality it is not harder than buying a new truck. The major difference is that you must wait about 60 days before you can actually have the Federal Firearms License in your hands.

The longer you wait, the longer it will take to get your Federal Firearms License. So get it in to gear by getting your ATF Form 7 and start filling it out. The faster you can get your Federal Firearms License means the faster you can have your freedom to work in the job you want to as a gunsmith.