2009-1 — Cosmetic Changes to Firearms Before Selling
Any person who engages in an activity or process that primarily adds to or changes a firearm’s appearance, by camouflaging a firearm by painting, dipping, or applying tape, or by engraving the external surface of a firearm, does not need to be licensed as a manufacturer under the Gun Control Act. Any person who is licensed as a dealer/gunsmith, and who camouflages or engraves firearms as described in this ruling does not need to be licensed as a manufacturer under the Gun Control Act. Any person who is engaged in the business of camouflaging or engraving firearms as described in this ruling must be licensed as a dealer, which includes a gunsmith, under the Gun Control Act.
2009-2 — Installation of “Drop-In” Replacement Parts to Firearms Before Selling
Any person who installs “drop in” replacement parts in or on existing, fully assembled firearms does not manufacture a firearm, and does not need to be licensed as a manufacturer under the Gun Control Act. A “drop in” replacement part is one that can be installed in or on an existing, fully assembled firearm without drilling, cutting, or machining. A replacement part, whether factory original or otherwise, has the same design, function, substantially the same dimensions, and does not otherwise affect the manner in which the weapon expels a projectile by the action of an explosive. Any person who is licensed as a dealer, which includes a gunsmith, and who installs “drop in” replacement parts in or on existing, fully assembled firearms as described in this ruling does not need to be licensed as a manufacturer under the Gun Control Act. Any person who is engaged in the business of installing “drop in” replacement parts in or on existing, fully assembled firearms as described in this ruling must be licensed as a dealer, which includes a gunsmith, under the Gun Control Act.
2009-5 — Engraving Serial Numbers
which provides for licensed firearms manufacturers who perform a manufacturing process on firearms for, or on behalf of, another licensed manufacturer to forego the requirement of placing their serial numbers and other identification markings on firearms as required by 27 CFR 478.92(a) and 479.102(a), provided specific conditions have been met.
2010-8 — Consolidation Required Records for Manufacturers
ATF authorizes licensed manufacturers to consolidate their records of manufacture or other acquisition of firearms and their separate firearms disposition records.
2010-10 — Firearms Manufacturing Operations
This ruling allows licensed gunsmiths to perform manufacturing operations on behalf of a licensed manufacture or importer under certain conditions: The firearms is (1) not owned, in whole or in part, by the dealer-gunsmith; (2) returned by the dealer-gunsmith to the importer of manufacturer upon completion of the manufacturing processes, and not sold or distributed to any person outside the manufacturing process; and (3) already properly identified/marked by the importer or manufacturer in accordance with Federal law and regulations.
Important Notice to Firearm Manufacturer Applicants (for Federal Firearms License)
In accordance with 33 U.S.C. § 1341, ATF Forms 5000.29, “Environmental Information,” and 5000.30, “Supplemental Information on Water Quality Considerations,” are required to be included with the ATF Form 5310.12 (Form 7) for those applicants/licensees whose activities may result in a discharge into navigable waters. Navigable waters is defined by Title 33 CFR Part 32 § 329.4 as interstate waters including wetlands.
The determination of whether the forms are required is the responsibility of the applicant, but may be verified by ATF during the qualification or compliance inspection, or any other time. Generally, the forms will be required for manufacturers only if the activity may result in a discharge into navigable waters. If applicable, the forms will be collected by field office investigators during routine inspection. Once an applicant has provided these forms to ATF, they should maintain current and valid forms with ATF.
Court Decisions and Precedent
Broughman v. Carver
Mr. Broughman, operating out of the basement of his home, purchased complete firearm “actions” (frames or receivers with internal parts) from other firearm licensees (FFLS), and purchased rifled barrels from other sources. Broughman then threaded and chambered the barrels to fit the actions, blued (i.e. finished the surface coating)the actions, and made wooden stocks, which he fit to the actions and barrels. No machining, drilling, or other alterations were done to the actions during this process. In July 2006, Investigator Carver conducted a routine compliance inspection of Mr. Broughman’s “gun shop.” On July 31, 2006, Investigator Carver issued a Report of Violation to Mr. Broughman. One of the alleged violations, which prompted the law suit, was a citation for failure “to obtain a license to manufacture firearms.” Mr. Broughman was cited because the investigator observed Mr. Broughman assemble a barrel, a receiver, and a stock for a customer, and Mr. Broughman admitted that he had assembled firearms and then sold them for several thousand dollars. Mr. Broughman hired an attorney who asked the ATF to remove the violation from the Report of Violations, asserting Mr. Broughman did not need a manufacturer’s license for what he was doing. ATF responded that “[i]t is ATF’s long standing position that the business activities described in your letter and observed during the inspection of Mr. Broughman’s premises are considered to be manufacturing activities, necessitating a manufacturer’s license.”