ATF Publishes Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Gun Storage

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ATF Publishes Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Gun Storage
Reeves & Dola, LLP
Reeves & Dola, LLP

Washington, DC -(AmmoLand.com)- 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.

Background

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:

  • 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.

About Reeves & Dola:

Reeves & Dola is a Washington, DC law firm that specializes in helping clients navigate the highly regulated and complex world of manufacturing, sales and international trade of defense and commercial products. We have a deep understanding of the Federal regulatory process, and use our expertise in working with a variety of Federal agencies to assist our clients with their transactional and regulatory needs.

For more information, visit: www.ReevesDola.com.

  • 22 thoughts on “ATF Publishes Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Gun Storage

    1. The requirement for “secure gun storage and safety devices” referred to here require licensees to make these devices available to firearm purchasers in an effort to prevent minors from accessing the firearms, not for licensees to store their business firearms.

      Generally, it is “unlawful for any licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer to sell, deliver, or transfer any handgun to any person other than [another licensee] unless the transferee is provided with a secure gun storage or safety device . . . for that handgun.”

      Four exceptions exist for the gun storage/safety device requirement:

      1. The “manufacture for, transfer to, or possession by, the United States, a department or agency of the United States, a State, or a department, agency, or political subdivision of a State, of a handgun” or the “transfer to, or possession by, a law enforcement officer employed by an entity referred to [above] of a handgun for law enforcement purposes (whether on or off duty).”

      2. The “transfer to, or possession by, a rail police officer employed by a rail carrier and certified or commissioned as a police officer under the laws of a State of a handgun for purposes of law enforcement (whether on or off duty).”

      3. The “transfer to any person of a handgun listed as a curio or relic by the [Attorney General] pursuant to section 921(a)(13); or

      4. The “the transfer to any person of a handgun for which a secure gun storage or safety device is temporarily unavailable for the reasons described in the exceptions stated in section 923(e) [“because of theft, casualty loss, consumer sales, backorders from a manufacturer, or any other similar reason beyond the control of the licensee], if the [licensee] delivers to the transferee within 10 calendar days from the date of the delivery of the handgun to the transferee a secure gun storage or safety device for the handgun.”

      A “secure gun storage or safety device” must meet one of three requirements:

      1. The device, “when installed on a firearm, is designed to prevent the firearm from being operated without first deactivating the device.”

      2. The device is “incorporated into the design of the firearm” and “designed to prevent the operation of the firearm by anyone not having access to the device.”

      3. The device is a “safe, gun safe, gun case, lock box, or other device that is designed to be or can be used to store a firearm and that is designed to be unlocked only by means of a key, a combination, or other similar means.”

      A licensee violating the provisions for gun storage and safety devices may, for each violation, have its license “suspend[ed] for not more than 6 months” or revoked, or be penalized “in an amount equal to not more than $2,500.” Such penalties may occur only “after notice and opportunity for hearing.” Moreover, the “suspension or revocation of a license or the imposition of a civil penalty” for these reasons “shall not preclude any administrative remedy that is otherwise available.” Any penalties ordered may be reviewed only pursuant to 18 U.S.C. section 923(f).

      Generally, “a person who has lawful possession and control of a handgun, and who uses a secure gun storage or safety device with the handgun, shall be entitled to immunity from a qualified civil liability action.” Accordingly, a “qualified civil liability action may not be brought in any Federal or State court.” However, a “qualified civil liability action” that is precluded from being pursued in court must meet all of the following requirements:

      1. The civil action must be brought against a person “who ha[d] lawful possession and control of a handgun, and who use[d] a secure gun storage or safety device with the handgun.”

      2. Damages “resulted from the criminal or unlawful misuse of the handgun by a third party” where “the handgun was accessed by another person who did not have the permission or authorization of the person having lawful possession and control of the handgun to have access to it” and “at the time access was gained by the person not so authorized, the handgun had been made inoperable by use of a secure gun storage or safety device.”

      3. The civil action is not one “for negligent entrustment or negligence per se” brought “against the person having lawful possession and control of the handgun.”

      This information is provided in “Firearm Laws for Business & Their Customers, Vol. 1: Federal Infringements” and can be purchased at http://www.firearmslaw.attorney.

    2. “Corruptisima republica plurimae leges.” (The more corrupt a republic, the more numerous its laws.) – Tacitus

    3. I have a friend that went into the firearms business years ago. He decided to go brick and mortar because the ATF refused a license for a home based business amid security concerns. (So they said) He spent over 10K in safes to make the ATF happy. What does define secure storage. If you have state of the art security system,locks,window bars..ect. Ain’t that secured without $10K in safes ?

      1. Recent neighbor did a “garage FFL.” He bricked up his garage entrance, camera inside andd outside. Commercial entry door with serious locks, closet with commercial door and locks, california approved gun safes. The three prohibiting locking doors is what got him in the green so quickly.

    4. How many dealers at the gun shows have secure storage? Also would the ATFE not have to inspect to ensure any and all licensees have secure storage? What constitutes as “secure storage” and who decides?

    5. ‘(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.’

      The term “readily converted” is the red herring phrase:
      Any percussion revolver can be converted to fixed ammunition with a replacement cylinder and faceplate.
      Any traditional outside hammer muzzle loader can be converted to fire fixed ammunition via the allen or snyder system.
      Any break-action modern muzzleloader can be converted to fire fixed ammunition by changing the screw in breach or replacing the barrel.

    6. “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.”

      Call me stupid ( please don’t) but this doesn’t specify as to who the “available gun storage or safety devices ” applies to…the dealer or the buyer. Without this specificity, it appears to me, that the ATF can, at their discrimination, revoke a dealers license based on whether or not the dealer has avail be secure storage for its wares or, whether or not the dealer PROVIDES appropriate storage or safety devices to their customers.
      To me, this reeks of once again, the government overstepping its intended function & dictating what they feel, are gatekeeper type legislations & restrictions that are STILL & WILL ALWAYS BE, unconstitutional. Private commerce aside, INFRINGEMENT has once again been shuffled into the deck of our second amendment.
      If I’m wrong, it’s because I’m reading this as a a layman, not a lawyer, so please be kind.

    7. This is what the democratic socialists bring to our lives. Oh, by the way countries that have hade the moniker ‘democratic socialist’ in their official title include the now defunct East Germany and the best example, North Korea. Progressives, liberals, democratic socialists same crap with the same goals…control the masses.

      1. Democratic socialism is NOT the same thing as communism. North Korea and the former East Germany were communist countries, NOT democratic socialist countries.

    8. Everyone is missing the point here. They are forcing smaller shops out by making them have an armory storage. Read between the lines, non licensed owners will be then required to store at their facility. The government will know where all licensed guns are. The non licensed will have to borrow their guns to use them. This will make control/confiscation easier and restrict the flow of the lawful. Making for a more chaotic environment by the unlawful and a more dictatorial government.

    9. The ATF is like the IRS, it needs a shock collar put on it to let it know what it’s place is!!!

    10. The entire Gun Control Act with or without regulations or modifications in unconstitutional. Just ask a 7 or 8 year old to read the 2nd Amendment. They can clearly understand what is written there.

      1. @James, I concur, but the SCOTUS has found the GCA a legitimate of Congress’s power to regulate commerce. That is an elitist judicial lie. But we are stuck with the GCA, the NFA and the BATFE until we can get two houses of Congress and a President to agree to repeal them. It is long past time to have gotten rid of these insults to our intelligence.

    11. ATF- An Treasonous UN_Elected foreign Agency that makes up random and arbitrary rules as it goes.

      Get rid of the ATF.

      1. Did anyone say “fast and furious” ??
        ATF sells guns to drug dealers at Obama’s request.
        Obama and Hillary running guns to terrorist through Benghazi. And to isis aka turkey militants.
        So, who are the real criminals here?
        They should be held accountable.
        This change of language noted above is just another unlawful law change without congress.
        Tell the ATF to ask Congress for permission.

    12. 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.”

      QUESTION
      SO IF THE EXPLOSION DOES NOT HAVE TO TAKE PLACE IN A FIXED METALLIC CARTRIDGE,
      Does that contradict Antique or muzzleloader exclusions?

      1. The muzzleloaders would use black powder or a black powder substitute, while the proposed fixed metallic cartridge or shell rewrite doesn’t specify propellants. Perhaps they are concerned someone will figure out how to make “caseless” or some other non-metallic cased ammo work.

        My understanding is that the “antique” designation for firearms using cartridges is based on year of manufacture and so wouldn’t be affected by this proposed change.

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