A Firearms Transaction Record, or Form 4473, is a form promulgated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in the United States Department of Justice that is filled out when a person purchases a firearm from a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder (such as a gun shop).
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 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. 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 a required "bound-book". A dealer must keep this on file at least 20 years, and is required to surrender the log to the 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. Some states (such as California) 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 for 5 years where the sale was disapproved as a result of the NICS check.
In response to the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA), 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 licensed 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 seller's computer and supports both Windows and Mac OS X operating systems. (See "External links" section below.)
- See generally subsection (g)(1)(A) of 18 U.S.C. § 923 and subsection (a) of 27 C.F.R. sec. 478.124.
- See subsection (a) of 18 U.S.C. § 922 and subsection (a)(1)(A) of 18 U.S.C. § 924.
- See generally subsection (g)(2) of 18 U.S.C. section 923.
- Title XVII (sections 1701 through 1710) of Division C of Public Law No. 105-277, 112 Stat. 2681, at 2681-749 (Oct 21, 1998), amending subsection (a)(1)(B)(vi) of 44 U.S.C. § 3504.