ATF compliance is an absolute must for gun sellers. Seven out of the ten most frequently cited violations in 2020 involved the 4473 form, so you need to ensure you’re keeping accurate records to stay compliant. An integral part of compliance is to ensure the 4473 form is properly filled out by both the buyer and the FFL.
But let’s be honest. This lengthy form can be a hassle for many gun sellers. Not to mention it’s easy to make mistakes, even with the best of intentions. That’s where FFL software comes in.
What is FFL Software?
This is a technology platform that’s designed to assist gun store owners specifically with Form 4473. Rather than having to fill out a firearms transaction record by hand using a paper form like in the past, FFL software lets you do it using a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
it allows you the FFL to conveniently enter information on your end, such as
- Gun manufacturer and importer
- Serial number
- Gun type
- Caliber or gauge
It also enables you to capture essential buyer information, including:
- Their name
- Place of birth
- Date of birth
- Country of citizenship
Here’s what it looks like in action.
FFL software also comes with digital signature support to electronically capture authentic signatures, as well as electronic storage support, which means you don’t have to deal with printing and physically storing every 4473.
As you’re probably aware, Form 4473 continuously evolves, making it difficult to stay up-to-date. But with FFL software, it ensures you’re always using the latest version of the form without having to track it down yourself. Because of the efficiency and convenience of this technology and its ability to simplify ATF compliance, it’s quickly becoming a popular option for a growing number of gun sellers.
How FFL Software Works
It’s really simple.
First, you add the firearm(s) you’re selling to the buyer. The buyer then completes and electronically signs the 4473 Form using any Mac, PC, tablet, or smartphone. From there, you perform a background check to ensure they’re eligible to purchase a firearm and complete your sections on the form.
Once that’s done, you’re on to the next sale. Everything is done digitally so you don’t have to deal with the hassle of filling out a paper form.
How it Can Streamline Form 4473
There are several ways FFL software makes the process more fluid and streamlined. For starters, it saves a lot of time. Any gun seller who’s completed an “old school” 4473 by hand knows how painstaking it can be. While only three of the six pages actually have to be filled out, it can still be quite time-consuming. It can be especially problematic for gun sellers working as a dealer or pawnbroker who sell at volume and have to do this multiple times per day. Given that over 52,000 FFLs are dealers and over 7,000 are pawnbrokers, this makes up a significant percentage.
For those gun sellers with limited manpower, dealing with paper 4473s can also potentially create friction because it makes it more difficult to assist customers. If, for example, you’re wrapped up in a 4473, it’s trickier to help other customers in the store, which can lead to lost sales and even hurt your brand reputation.
Using FFL software, however, makes the process much faster so you don’t have to spend an excessive amount of time on a form. Instead, it allows you to get the information you need from a buyer, complete your sections, and move on. So if you’ve ever found yourself frustrated with the laborious nature of a Form 4473, FFL software will definitely be of interest to you.
Next, it prevents buyers from missing required answers and making common mistakes, such as putting “USA” for the country or entering today’s date as their birthday. Mistakes like these happen more than you may think, and with a traditional paper form, you have to scan over everything manually to make sure there are no issues. And, of course, human error is always a factor, which means you may not catch them 100% of the time.
Besides that, FFL software will find any simple errors on your end that would create an issue. Say, for example, you leave a gun’s serial number one digit short or get the numbers in the wrong order. FFL software will alert you of the error so you can promptly correct it. But if you didn’t catch it, an investigator would be the one to do so, which would result in a violation. FFL software is designed to catch these types of mistakes so you don’t have to worry about it.
Finally, using a digital format like this means you can easily read the 4473 because everything is typed. While some buyers have excellent handwriting where everything is perfectly legible, there are plenty whose writing is less than ideal and looks more like chicken scratch. If you’ve ever found yourself squinting, trying to guess what a customer wrote on their 4473 and then struggling to input that into your system, you know it’s a big problem. But with digital fonts, all of the information is easily legible, which can spare you from eye strain.
Why Getting 4473s Right is So Important
The majority of frequently cited violations have to do directly with Form 4473 when those forms aren’t properly completed or recorded. On the ATF’s 2020 fact sheet, where they list facts and figures from that year, the second most frequent violation was 27 CFR 478.124(c)(1) where there’s a failure to obtain a completed Form 4473, while the third was 27 CFR 478.21(a) where there’s a failure to complete the form as prescribed.
Here’s a full overview of the list for the details.
As you can see, many gun sellers struggle with their 4473s and could use some serious help in this area.
What’s a Good FFL Software to Use?
At this point, we’ve discussed what FFL software is, how it works, and how it can help gun sellers. But what’s an actual product you can use?
One of the more popular options is FastBound, which has no special hardware requirements and no transaction fees. It’s a user-friendly platform that offers everything you need to handle 4473s and stay compliant. The information collected on the 4473 is integrated with NICS and other state background checks like California, Colorado, and others making the background process streamlined, compliant, fast, and error-free.
FastBound is also the only FFL software that’s backed by legal defense. So in the event that you receive an audit, you have the peace of mind knowing that your software is backed by the only 100% compliance guarantee in the industry.
Making Form 4473 Convenient and Secure
There’s no getting around it. 4473s are a critical part of the firearms selling process. They help ensure transactions are kept above board and guns don’t wind up in the wrong hands. That said, they can also be quite arduous. Filling out traditional paper forms can be time consuming and error-prone.
But using an FFL software such as FastBound makes 4473s highly efficient and accurate, virtually eliminating the possibility of mistakes. This, in turn, simplifies things for both you and your customers.