|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2013)|
The Form 4473 contains name, address, date of birth, government-issued photo ID, National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background check transaction number, make/model/serial number of the firearm, and a short federal affidavit stating that the purchaser is eligible to purchase firearms under federal law. Lying on this form is a felony and can be punished by up to five years in prison in addition to fines, even if the transaction is simply denied by the NICS, although prosecutions are rare in the absence of another felony committed with the gun purchased.
The dealer also records all information from the Form 4473 into their "bound-book". A dealer must keep this on file at least 20 years and is required to surrender the log to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) upon retirement from the firearms business. The ATF is allowed to inspect, as well as request a copy of the Form 4473 from the dealer during the course of a criminal investigation. In addition, the sale of two or more handguns to a person in a five-day period must be reported to ATF on Form 3310.4.
If a person purchases a firearm from a private individual who is not a licensed dealer, the purchaser is not required in most states to complete a Form 4473, though some states require individual sellers to sell through dealers.
These forms are given the same status as a tax return under the Privacy Act of 1974 and cannot be disclosed by the government to private parties or other government officials except in accordance with the Privacy Act. Individual dealers possessing a copy of the form are not subject to the Privacy Act's restrictions on disclosure. Dealers are required to maintain completed forms for 20 years in the case of completed sales and 5 years where the sale was denied by the NICS check coming back disapproved or other disqualifying information.
In response to the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA), Public L. No 105-277, signed Oct 21, 1998, and based upon requests from the firearms industry, the ATF has developed the e-Form 4473 to assist in the proper completion of the Federal Firearms Transaction Record (ATF Form 4473). The ATF eForm 4473 is designed to help eliminate errors in completing Form 4473 for both the firearm purchaser and the Federal Firearms License (FFL) holding seller. The eForm 4473 is provided to the public, including major retailers, free of charge via the ATF eForm web site. ATF eForm 4473 is a downloadable application that runs locally on the FFL's computer and supports both Windows and Mac OS X operating systems. (see "External links" section below)