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*** R|D ALERT ***

ATF Publishes  Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Secure Gun Storage or Safety Devices, and on Expanding Definition of "Antique Firearm"

On May 26, 2016, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) published in the  Federal Register a  notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).  The NPRM seeks public comment on proposals to amend the regulations in Title 27, Part 478 of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) to (1) implement the Gun Control Act (GCA) requirement that applicants for firearms dealer licenses certify the availability of secure gun storage or safety devices, and (2) amend the definition of "antique firearm" to include certain modern muzzle loading firearms.

The NPRM proposes implementing amendments made to the GCA back in 1998. These amendments included a provision requiring applicants for a firearm dealer license to certify the availability of secure gun storage or safety devices at any place where firearms are sold under the license to nonlicensees. ATF had previously implemented this provision by requiring a certification on ATF Form 7, Application for Federal Firearms License, Block 27.  However, no change was made to the regulations.
The NPRM also proposes adding language to the definition of "antique firearm" in 27 C.F.R. § 478.11 to reflect changes made to the statutory definition of the term in 1998 and to make conforming amendments to the definitions of "rifle" and "shotgun."
Proposed Changes to Regulations

ATF proposes  the following amendments to the regulations implementing the GCA:

1.  Add A New Section 478.104 in Title 27 C.F.R.  
  • The section would mirror the statutory language requiring applicants for firearms dealer licenses to certify on ATF Form 7 that secure gun storage or safety devices will be available at any place where firearms are sold to nonlicensed individuals. 
  • The section would add a new requirement that applicants for licenses certify the secure gun storage or safety devices are compatible with the firearms offered for sale. 
  • The certification would not be limited to applicants of dealer licenses.  Rather, Section 478.104 would also require that persons applying for a manufacturer or importer license also make the certification if the applicant will engage in dealing the same type of firearms authorized by the license to be imported or manufactured. ATF explains this position is based on regulations (27 C.F.R. § 478.41(b)) that authorize licensed importers and licensed manufacturers to engage in the business as a dealer without obtaining a separate dealer's license. 
 2.  Authorize ATF to Revoke Licenses
  • 27 C.F.R. § 478.73 would be amended to specifically authorize revocation of a license when ATF finds the licensee has failed to have available  secure gun storage or safety devices at any place where firearms are sold to nonlicensees. 
  • This amendment would codify existing provisions of the GCA. 
3.  Expand the Definition of "Antique Firearm"
  • The definition "antique firearm" in Section 478.11 would be amended by adding certain modern muzzle loading firearms. A new paragraph (c) would read as follows:
Any muzzle loading rifle, muzzle loading shotgun, or muzzle loading pistol that is designed to use black powder, or a black powder substitute; and that cannot use fixed ammunition.  For purposes of this paragraph (c), the term "antique firearm" does not include any weapon that incorporates a firearm frame or receiver, any firearm that is converted into a muzzle loading weapon, or any muzzle loading weapon that can be readily converted to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, breechblock or any combination thereof. 

4.   Amend Section 478.11 Definitions of Rifle and Shotgun 
  • Definition of "rifle" amended to remove the words "the explosive in fixed metallic cartridge" and replace them with "an explosive."  
  • Definition of "shotgun" amended to remove the words "the explosive in a fixed shotgun shell" and replace them with "an explosive."
Comments on the NPRM
ATF will accept comments through August 24, 2016 (written comments must be postmarked by this date).  Comments must identify the docket number (ATF 24P) and may be submitted by any of the following methods:
  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Fax: (202) 648-9741.
  • Mail: George M. Fodor, Mailstop 6.N-523, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Department of Justice, 99 New York Avenue NE., Washington, DC 20226: ATTN: ATF 24P.  Written comments may be of any length and must appear in a minimum 12-point type (.17 inches), include a complete mailing address, and be signed.

The above alert is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed or used as legal advice. Receipt of this alert does not establish, in and of itself, an attorney-client relationship. 

Questions about this alert can be directed to: 

Johanna Reeves: 202.715.9941  | [email protected]
Teresa Ficaretta:    202.715.9183  [email protected]
Katherine Heubert: 202.715.9940  | [email protected]

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