The gun industry has a responsibility to keep Americans safe from gun violence. Yet there is no transparency into which gun stores are violating our public safety laws and whether law enforcement is doing anything about it. That’s why Brady, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization, is exposing never-before-released records that identify gun stores cited for breaking the law. Now, the American public will no longer be kept in the dark about businesses that contribute to gun violence in their communities, and whether federal authorities are failing to hold them accountable.
These records took years to access, and this website will be regularly updated as we continue to obtain additional documents. Brady spent years filing Freedom of Information Act requests and fighting in court to secure these federal inspection reports, which represent remedial actions taken by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) against gun stores cited for violating the law. You can browse these records — the most comprehensive ever made available — and find cited violations among gun stores in your community and across the country. It is our hope that the obstacles to obtaining these reports will soon be gone; in March 2023, President Biden directed the Attorney General to proactively release certain ATF inspection records “to the fullest extent permissible by law.”
What you’ll learn from these reports is how some gun stores violate public safety laws and how gun-industry-backed policies — combined with lax ATF enforcement — allow these businesses to continue transferring, manufacturing, and/or importing guns.ATF inspects only a small percentage of gun stores each year and revokes a store's federal firearms license in just 1 percent of all inspections. The country needs an effective federal system that ensures dangerous sellers are held accountable for threatening our safety and contributing to gun violence.
We invite you to explore these records and join Brady in taking action, not sides, to create a safer America.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is the sole federal law enforcement agency charged with inspecting federal firearms licensees (FFLs) in the United States for compliance with federal firearms laws.
Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL)
Federal law requires that persons who are engaged in the business of dealing in firearms be licensed by ATF. A federal firearms licensee, or FFL, is an individual or business licensed by ATF to be engaged in the business of firearms, including dealing, manufacturing, and importing firearms. There are approximately 137,000 FFLs in the United States, including about 53,000 gun dealers (FFL Type 01), 7,000 pawnbrokers (FFL Type 02), 19,000 manufacturers (FFL Type 07), and 2,000 importers (FFL Type 08) as of FY22.
A Warning Letter is a form of administrative action that ATF can issue to an FFL based upon violations uncovered in the inspection. In FY22, 8.7% of FFL compliance inspections resulted in a Warning Letter (and 19% of inspections where violations were found). For more information about the types of violations that warranted a Warning Letter for the inspection reports published on the Gun Store Transparency Project, see ATF Orders 5370.1C and 5370.1D. More recent ATF guidance on administrative actions can be found in ATF Order 5370.1E and this OIG report containing information on the not-yet- publicly-available but most current version, 5370.1F.
A Warning Conference is a form of administrative action that is more severe than a Warning Letter, but less severe than revoking an FFL’s license. A Warning Conference involves the FFL attending a conference with an ATF Area Supervisor or Director of Industry Operations. In FY22, 1.9% of FFL compliance inspections resulted in a Warning Conference (and 4.1% of inspections where violations were found). For more information about the types of violations that warranted a Warning Conference for the inspection reports published on the Gun Store Transparency Project, see ATF Orders 5370.1C and 5370.1D. More recent ATF guidance on administrative actions can be found in ATF Orders 5370.1E and this OIG report containing information on the not-yet-publicly-available but most current version, 5370.1F.
The most severe administrative action available to ATF, an FFL’s license may be revoked and/or its license renewal application denied based upon willful violations uncovered in an inspection. Though, on average, the majority of ATF FFL inspections find violations, just one percent result in ATF revoking the FFL’s license. In fact, a recent audit of ATF’s gun industry oversight found “no discernible pattern” for inspections completed between 2010 and 2022 that resulted in revocation versus ones that did not.
Fortunately, there has been incremental improvement: the percent of inspected FFLs that were revoked tripled from 0.4% in FY21 to 1.3% in FY22. This is likely due in part to the 2021 enhanced regulatory enforcement policy, which requires ATF to revoke an FFL’s license when certain serious and willful violations are discovered, unless there are extraordinary circumstances.
For more information about the types of violations that warranted a License Revocation for the inspection reports published on the Gun Store Transparency Project, see ATF Orders 5370.1C and 5370.1D. More recent ATF guidance on administrative actions can be found in ATF Orders 5370.1E and this OIG report containing information on the not-yet-publicly-available but most current version, 5370.1F.
A Recall Inspection is a follow-up compliance inspection of an FFL. The ATF will often schedule a Recall Inspection to ensure that an FFL whose previous inspection resulted in significant public safety violations or concerns has taken corrective actions toward compliance with the law. Like other forms of warrantless compliance inspections, per 18 U.S.C. § 923(g)(1)(B)(ii)(I), ATF must wait for a full year to elapse from the time of the last compliance inspection before it can inspect that particular FFL again, but ATF policy requires that recall inspections be scheduled within two years of the date when ATF is legally allowed to conduct another inspection. However, a recent OIG audit found that ATF failed to inspect over half of the FFLs identified as planned recall inspections from FY 2018–20.
ATF Form 4473
Otherwise known as the “Firearms Transaction Record,” an ATF Form 4473 is used prior to most firearm transfers from an FFL to a non-FFL (such as a retail purchaser of a firearm) “to determine if [an FFL] may lawfully sell or deliver a firearm to the person identified” as the transferee/buyer on the form “and to alert the transferee/buyer of certain restrictions on the receipt and possession of firearms.” ATF most recently revised the Form 4473 in April 2023. Most of the inspection reports contained in this database reference the earlier versions of the Form 4473 which can be found here and here.
Acquisition and Disposition (A&D) Book
According to ATF, the "firearms acquisition and disposition (A&D) record, also known as a ‘bound book’, is a permanently bound book or an orderly arrangement of loose-leaf pages which must be maintained at the business premises.” While certain electronic versions of the A&D record may be permissible, the log must be used to record the licensee’s acquisition of every firearm that enters into the FFL’s possession, as well as the disposition of each firearm if it leaves the FFL’s possession.
Frequently Asked Questions
ATF — short for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — is the federal law enforcement agency charged with, among other responsibilities, inspecting the 137,000 federal firearms licensees (FFLs) in the United States. It does this as part of its public safety mission to “protect the public from crimes involving firearms, explosives, arson, and the diversion of alcohol and tobacco products; regulate lawful commerce in firearms and explosives; and provide worldwide support to law enforcement, public safety, and industry partners.”
A federal firearms licensee, or FFL, is an individual or business licensed by ATF to be engaged in the business of firearms, including dealing, manufacturing, and importing firearms. There are approximately 137,000 FFLs in the United States, including about 53,000 gun dealers (FFL Type 01), 7,000 pawnbrokers (FFL Type 02), 19,000 manufacturers (FFL Type 07), and 2,000 importers (FFL Type 08) as of FY22.
No. This map shows the documents that ATF has produced to Brady in response to its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for FFL compliance inspection reports since July 2015 that resulted in the issuance of a Warning Letter or more severe remedy, nearly all of which are from the requested time period, but ATF also produced a handful from years prior. These reports represent a small subset of all ATF inspection reports generated during this period of time. Brady will continue to update this website as it receives additional reports.
Brady believes that FFLs should adopt the safest business practices to prevent dangerous and risky transactions, including transfers to straw purchasers, firearms traffickers, prohibited purchasers, and others that intend to misuse firearms. FFLs should consult Brady’s Gun Dealer Code of Conduct for a list of practices to help ensure they are selling firearms safely.
About ATF FFL Inspections
ATF’s stated goal for FFL compliance inspections has varied. At one time, ATF’s goal was to inspect each licensed dealer, pawnbroker, manufacturer, and importer once every 3 or 5 years depending on the state in which it was located. In 2020, ATF stated that its goal is to inspect each licensed dealer, pawnbroker, manufacturer, and importer every 3 years, but, according to a recent report, ATF would need an additional 854 investigators, more than double that are currently employed, to meet this objective. In fact,a 2023 OIG audit found that not only did ATF fail to meet these inspection benchmarks, with the majority of FFLs being inspected only once per decade, but also that over 2,200 active FFLs had gone without a single inspection in 12 years.
Among other job duties, ATF Industry Operations Investigators (IOIs) are responsible for conducting FFL compliance inspections and identifying any violations of law. IOIs will also make a recommendation of which administrative action, if any, ATF should take against non-compliant FFLs.
A higher level ATF official such as an Area Supervisor (AS) and/or, in certain cases, a Director of Industry Operations (DIO), will review the IOI’s findings and recommendations. Such officials can concur with the IOI’s recommendation, or modify the recommendation and issue a final disposition. ATF counsel also reviews inspections that warrant revocation. FFLs have the right to challenge ATF’s administrative findings and determinations in federal court.
No. Investigations and reports issued by The Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General (DOJ OIG) have found major shortcomings in ATF’s FFL compliance inspection program. For example, in 2004 the DOJ OIG found ATF was not effective in ensuring FFL compliance, in part because inspections were infrequent and inconsistent. In a 2013 follow-up review, the DOJ OIG found that the ATF did not meet its operational goals of inspecting all FFLs on a cyclical basis, resulting in over 58% not being inspected within five years, and that the ATF failed to track whether high-risk FFL inspections met its operating plan priorities. Most recently, in 2023, the OIG found that ATF’s compliance inspection activity remains a concern, as ATF has not achieved its stated goal of inspecting FFLs every three years – resulting in over 2,000 active FFLs not receiving an onsite inspection for over a decade – and that ATF is inconsistent in its use of administrative actions, including license revocation, in response to inspections.
In a 2022 report, ATF disclosed that 85% of active FFLs did not receive a compliance inspection in each year between 2016 - 2020; that the total FFL population increased by about 22% between 2000 - 2020 while ATF resources and personnel increased only marginally; and that its current average ratio of IOIs to FFLs is 1:142, meaning that on average every IOI is responsible for regulating 142 FFLs. In one extreme example, Wyoming’s IOI to FFL ratio is 1:805, meaning the state has one IOI assigned to regulate 805 FFLs spread over 97K square miles.
ATF has recently taken promising steps to improve its inspections program. ATF recently launched its Crime Gun Intelligence Analytics (CGIA) platform, which helps ATF investigators use data to prioritize higher-risk dealers for inspection.
There are many challenges, internal and external, that contribute to ATF’s inability to effectively oversee the gun industry and enforce the law. Federal laws pushed by the gun lobby prohibit ATF from conducting more than one warrantless compliance inspection per FFL per year; require ATF to prove that an FFL “willfully” violated a law in order to revoke a license; and forbid ATF from requiring FFLs to perform physical inventory of their business, making inspections much more time-consuming. ATF is also chronically underfunded and under-resourced, falling hundreds of thousands of IOI hours short of inspecting FFLs even on a 5-year cycle.
In the past, ATF’s policy, adopted in 2009, gave supervisors tremendous discretion to elect alternatives to revocation, allowing non-compliant FFLs to stay in business. The cumulative effect of this policy has had a clear impact on ATF’s enforcement: in FY11, ATF revoked 43% fewer licenses than it did in FY04, while the number of alternative actions skyrocketed – warning conferences by 80%, warning letters by 1,121%, and reports of violations by 276%.
Fortunately, some progress is being made. The 2021 enhanced regulatory enforcement policy requires ATF to revoke an FFL’s license for certain serious and willful violations unless there are truly extraordinary circumstances, which ATF superiors must fully detail. Subsequently, the percentage of FFLs revoked tripled from 0.4% in FY21 to 1.3% in FY22.
Listen to Red, Blue, and Brady’s podcast “Why – and How – Are Lawbreaking Gun Dealers Being Protected” about these inspection reports for more information about obstacles to effective ATF oversight of the gun industry.
ATF is the sole federal agency with the authority to inspect the nation’s roughly 137,000 FFLs. However, certain states have laws that allow state and/or local law enforcement to conduct their own compliance inspections of licensed gun businesses as a complement to ATF’s efforts. We encourage those states to learn more about Brady’s Enhanced Inspections Initiative, which promotes the use of advanced data analytics to optimize inspection resources.
Each gun that leaves an FFL when it legally should not could be a gun that is used to injure or kill a fellow American – and these reports detail violations of the law that may have real consequences for public safety. When FFLs that violate laws designed to prevent gun trafficking, assist law enforcement investigations, or keep guns out of the hands of those who should not possess them, even one FFL's actions thereby contribute to the epidemic of gun violence in America.
Investigative reporting in outlets such as USA Today in conjunction with The Trace, The New York Times, and The San Francisco Chronicle show how such violations have led to gun violence. For more information about the seriousness of such violations, read Brady’s 2006 in-depth report “‘Trivial Violations’?: The Myth of Overzealous Federal Enforcement Actions Against Licensed Gun Dealers.”
ATF releases a fact sheet every year that contains some high-level information about FFL compliance inspections, including a list of the most frequently cited violations. The FY22 Fact Sheet common violation list includes, among others, failure to maintain an accurate/complete/timely acquisition and disposition (A&D) record of firearms; failure to obtain a completed ATF Form 4473; failure to complete forms as prescribed; and failure to record National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) contact information on an ATF Form 4473.
Brady has noticed that in this database of reports, many of the violations appear to indicate a failure to properly verify a potential buyer’s identity, eligibility to purchase a firearm, and/or ensure that the necessary forms and documentation (such as the ATF Form 4473) are properly completed. Additionally, Brady has discovered that of the 3,425 reports on the current site, over 400 reports indicate that at least one firearm was identified as missing from inventory and its disposition could not be reconciled by the close of the inspection period. In some cases, missing firearms may indicate firearms trafficking. A recent ATF report noted that firearms reported missing from FFLs have an average time-to-recovery of under one year and that 32% of recovered guns were recovered in different states or other countries – suggesting that many were illegally trafficked.
ATF has created internal guidelines for the administration of remedial action that dictate the circumstances under which a Warning Letter should be issued, a Warning Conference held, or an FFL’s license revoked. For the inspection reports published on the Gun Store Transparency project, those guidelines are found in ATF Orders 5370.1C and 5370.1D. However, many of the inspection reports on this site show that ATF officials frequently rely on “mitigating factors” to issue a less severe administrative action than the guidelines call for.
In June 2021, the Justice Department established a “zero tolerance policy”, an enhanced regulatory enforcement policy where absent extraordinary circumstances, ATF will seek to revoke the licenses of dealers the first time that they violate federal law by willfully 1) transferring a firearm to a prohibited person, 2) failing to run a required background check, 3) falsifying records, such as a firearms transaction form, 4) failing to respond to an ATF tracing request, or 5) refusing to permit ATF to conduct an inspection in violation of the law. Unlike in previous editions of ATF policy, when supervisors disagree with license revocation, they must now thoroughly explain why circumstances are extraordinary enough to avoid revocation, and must get approval from higher levels of management for the decision to not revoke.
About the Data
In August 2017, Brady submitted a Freedom of Information Act Request for all ATF FFL compliance inspection reports from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2017 in which the ATF issued an FFL a Warning Letter or more severe remedy as a result of its violations. After receiving no response to our request, in October 2017, Brady took the ATF to court to obtain inspection reports for these FFLs. Brady has since filed subsequent requests for additional reports beyond the original June 30, 2017 cut-off date. The FOIA effort and resulting litigation are still ongoing and have yielded all of the reports found in this database. Brady will continue to periodically update this website as it receives additional reports.
The inspection reports on this website are all public documents, and Brady obtained them through Freedom of Information Act requests and litigation. ATF can release these documents on its own website if it chooses to do so, and we are hopeful that they will do so soon.
All redactions to the text in the reports were made by the ATF before they were provided to Brady, and Brady is releasing these reports exactly as we received them from ATF. ATF claims to have redacted the reports pursuant to exceptions contained in the Freedom of Information Act. Brady disagrees with ATF’s decision to redact certain categories of information, and continues to fight these redactions in court.
This data has made Brady believe state and local gun industry oversight is necessary because ATF inspected only about 5 percent of federal firearms licensees in FY22 (including only 9 percent of all dealers, pawnshops, manufacturers, and importers). Even when the ATF does inspect an FFL, it often fails to adequately enforce the law.
Using this and other data, Brady has created a method for identifying key characteristics of dealers more likely to violate the law. Our method is 4.5 times more likely to identify a problem dealer than random selection.
Brady is working to integrate its proprietary data-analytics tool into state and local inspection processes. This tool allows state and local authorities to focus their limited resources on dealers who are likely to be violating the law. In doing so, states and localities will be able to fill the oversight void that currently exists due to ATF constraints, and conduct their own, more efficient oversight of dealers.
About Gun Stores Near Me
Each inspection report on this map features the issuance of a Warning Letter or more severe remedy and was produced to Brady as a result of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and litigation. The fact that administrative action was taken and that these reports were subsequently obtained by Brady is the reason each one is included on this site. Remember, most gun dealers do not violate federal law: nearly half of dealers inspected by ATF between fall 2010 to early 2022 didn’t commit a single violation. We also encourage you to review Brady’s 2006 in-depth report “‘Trivial Violations’?: The Myth of Overzealous Federal Enforcement Actions Against Licensed Gun Dealers” for more information about how “paperwork” violations can be more serious than they appear.
Maybe. An FFL that does not appear on this map has (1) never been inspected by ATF (or not inspected since July 2015), (2) been inspected by ATF but not found to have any — or any serious — violations, or (3) been inspected by ATF and found to have violations that resulted in administrative action, but ATF has not yet produced the report to Brady. ATF, however, has this information and we encourage it to release it to the public.
Brady has found that the sort of systemic change government may provide is more impactful, replicable, and ultimately successful than pressuring individual FFLs to change their behavior.
Brady is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization with one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 60 grassroots chapters to take action, not sides, and create a safer America.