When the ATF knocks at your door it can be quite nerve-wracking. We show you how you can better prepare and make it through.
When the ATF shows up at your door, it’s only natural to get a little nervous. Even if your books are fully compliant you may still feel a little anxious due to the power the ATF can have regarding the future of your business.
Just know, an audit isn’t something to be afraid of.
Especially, if you’ve already done the proper groundwork.
Below we’ll walk you through the audit process, so you know what to expect, and offer a few suggestions if it’s already too late and you don’t have time to prepare for an audit.
What Happens During an Audit?
The audit process will vary depending on if it’s your very first audit, or if you’ve received any infractions in the past. Typically, if you have a clean record the process will run much more smoothly, than if you have a stack of infractions.
Still, the process follows a fairly predictable process, which we highlight below. Knowing what to expect can help to ease any anxieties during your audit.
1. Check Your Bound Books
Your inventory will be checked against your bound books to ensure that they match up. If there are any discrepancies in your inventory and your Acquisition and Disposition logs, then those will be inspected further.
Your books need to have a 100% match with your inventory. This means that every single item in your store must have an open acquisition log. Your disposition records must also match any firearms you’ve sold, or that have been disposed of, or stolen.
2. Review Your 4473 Forms
Next your 4473s will be reviewed. The goal of this is to make sure your records have been kept in a timely manner. These forms are very easy to fill out, but for that reason the process gets rushed and there are unintentional errors.
Your 4473s must be filled out completely and properly and match the information that’s recorded in your bound books.
3. Review your 3310 Forms
Your 3310s are recorded when you’ve sold multiple handguns to a single individual. If you have a large staff then it’s easy for 3310s to not get filled out and filed. To prevent this from happening, it’s helpful to have employees ask customers if they’ve previously purchased any firearms, before completing a purchase.
4. Have a Closing Conference
After all of your documents have been reviewed and checked against your firearms inventory, there will be a closing conference where you’ll be informed of any violations that might have occurred. If you have been cited, it’s important to fix these errors in your inventory and processes as soon as possible.
How Can I Prepare?
The best way to ensure you’re fully prepared for an audit is to ensure your books and processes are always 100% compliant. However, this is easier said than done. Using software like FastBound will help you keep your records accurate and compliant, and having the power of a legal team like FFLGuard behind you will help keep you up with the latest legal standards.
The best way to avoid any negative outcomes from an audit is to have the proper processes in place to ensure you’re following the law before you’re audited. These processes should include routine inventory audits, paperwork audits, process audits, and you should stay current with the ever changing laws and regulations of the firearms industry. The best way to do this is to use software like FastBound for your Acquisition and Disposition records and to have a legal team like FFLGuard in place.
It can always help to have a second set of eyes look at your books before you forget about them. This will help to catch any additional typos you might have overlooked.
Avoiding the Negative Consequences of an Audit
If you’re in the firearms business, then you will get audited at some point. The goal isn’t to never experience an audit, but instead to have everything in order, so an audit doesn’t derail your business.
Getting audited may not negatively affect your business the first time your cited. But repeat offenses can lead to violations or administrative action against your license (warning letters, warning conferences, denied renewals or revocations). All of which may severely damage your business.
If you have been cited following an audit, then do your best to fix any errors as soon as possible. If you haven’t been audited yet, then make sure your books and records are completely compliant and you have processes in place to always double check your records.
If you want a hassle-free way to help you keep your bound books compliant, then give FastBound a try today.