Federal Firearm License Rules


Obtaining a Federal Firearms License is required to become a gun dealer, buy guns wholesale and engage in certain other firearms-related activities. Obtaining an FFL is not particularly difficult as long as you do not fall into any of the excluded classes of people for whom the license will not be granted. This articles provides a basic overview of the rules governing the FFL and its application process.

Who Cannot Apply

  • Certain classes of people are barred from obtaining an FFL. Convicted felons and those who have violated the Gun Control Act, for example, are prohibited. Anyone legally prohibited from owning or carrying firearms (including minors under 21 years of age) are also ineligible. Certain crimes and offenses, even if not felonies, will also bar your application. These include dishonorable discharge from the U.S. armed services and substance abuse. People who are subject to a restraining order for harassment, stalking or threats against a partner are ineligible, as are illegal aliens.

License Types

  • There are several different types of licenses available for different types of activities. If you are granted an FFL, you will be restricted to undertaking only the specific activities that you are licensed for. These activities include selling firearms (including the right to purchase wholesale), manufacturing firearms, manufacturing ammunition, collecting guns and importing firearms.

Requirements Prior to Application

  • You are legally required to locate suitable premises for your chosen activity before applying for an FFL. This will require you to check state and local laws for zoning and other restrictions. In some cases, your home may be considered an appropriate location (particularly for gun collectors), but proper storage and safety facilities will still be required. You will also be required to issue written notification to the senior law enforcement officer with jurisdiction over your locality, stating that you intend to apply for an FFL. This requirement is designed to ensure that local authorities can enforce local firearms laws.


  • In order to begin the FFL application process, you will need to order ATF Form 7 from a special website (see References). This form is not available online--it will be mailed to you. ATF Form 7 is not extensive. It requires you to certify that you are not excluded from obtaining an FFL, and that you meet the other licensing requirements listed above. You will also have to attest that you comply with all state and local laws, and that you have located suitable premises. Finally, you will have to state the type of license you are applying for. An intentionally false statement on ATF Form 7 could subject you to criminal liability for perjury.

Maintaining a License

  • In order to maintain your FFL, you will have to comply with all state and local laws pertaining to your licensed activity within 30 days of obtaining your FFL. You will also have to remain in continuous compliance with state and local laws thereafter. Failure to comply with these laws could result in local penalties as well as the revocation of your FFL. Certain continuing federal compliance requirements may be applicable as well, depending on the nature of your activity (for example, completing background checks on potential gun purchasers).


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