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Old February 23, 2012, 10:37 AM   #1
BarryLee
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Hobbyist Gunsmith

If a person who enjoys repairing and modifying guns as a hobby does work for family and friends is a FFL required? Does it matter if the person receives payment for their work? Keep in mind this is not a business just someone working in their home shop.
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Old February 23, 2012, 11:04 AM   #2
Colokeb
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You will find that you can not charge, and can not keep guns overnight.

Jeesh, some years back the govt busted wannabe smiths for helping mount a scope.
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Old February 23, 2012, 12:32 PM   #3
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Anyone know the ATF chapter and verse on this?

I'd like to read it for myself...
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Old February 23, 2012, 01:56 PM   #4
BarryLee
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Quote:
You will find that you can not charge
So, can you be reimbursed for parts that you buy or is there a complete prohibition on money changing hands?
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Old February 23, 2012, 04:30 PM   #5
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Generally speaking, "hobbyist" and "gunsmith" are mutually exclusive terms under tha law. Some answers from ATF here.
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Old February 23, 2012, 05:23 PM   #6
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ATF requires an FFL for anyone engaging in the business of gunsmithing.
While "engaging in the business" usually means you perform that service for $$$....ATF will not ask to see your checking account before they indict you.

They will look at the volume of work you are performing on other peoples firearms....not how much $$$ you are earning.
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Old February 23, 2012, 07:43 PM   #7
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I have been doing this for many years now. I would hand over the invoice i paid for the parts and leave it up to the guns owner to decide how much he cared to donate to my shooting expences. Never considered it to be a problem until this post.
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Old February 23, 2012, 07:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
I have been doing this for many years now. I would hand over the invoice i paid for the parts and leave it up to the guns owner to decide how much he cared to donate to my shooting expences. Never considered it to be a problem until this post.
Sorry...
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Old February 23, 2012, 08:53 PM   #9
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So far, the only thing provided has been BATF info about 'Firearms Manufacturing'...

I can't see how taking 'possession' of, and 'cleaning' my Sister's S&W left to her by our Father, can possibly be construed as a regulated act...
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Old February 23, 2012, 09:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
27 CFR 478.11
(d) Gunsmith. A person who devotes time, attention, and labor to engaging in such activity as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit, but such a term shall not include a person who makes occasional repairs of firearms or who occasionally fits special barrels, stocks, or trigger mechanisms to firearms;
http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text....2.1.1&idno=27
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Old February 24, 2012, 12:25 AM   #11
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The thing to consider is that it's an enormous "gray area." If the ATF wants to come after you, they very well might just look at your volume. If you're not making a profit, that just means you're lousy at your business.

You'd probably be okay working on one or two guns a month for people you personally know. But if at any given time you've got 15 or 20 guns belonging to strangers in your workshop in various stages of being worked on, there's a good chance that you won't be okay. Where things go from being okay to not being okay just isn't clear. And things like holding on to guns for a while or receiving guns for work from folks in other States will add further complications.
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Old February 24, 2012, 06:43 AM   #12
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Thanks for the clarification Don H...
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Old February 24, 2012, 07:25 AM   #13
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I would also suggest to folks considering becoming a gunsmith to look closely at the difference between what you are or may be doing when looking at FFL types.

While fiddletown mentioned one of the "grey areas" in the regulations, another one that you may encounter is when does a person go from repairing/modifying a firearm, to manufacturing a firearm. I dont know what all you would intend to do as far as work goes, but I would ask that you consider this issue as well.
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Old February 24, 2012, 08:05 AM   #14
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This is just opinion,no legal basis:
If you are fixing your sister's handgun,I do not see the factor attracting attention,or the concern of the BATF.Low key,no problem

However,suppose you are a Cowboy Shooter and the folks in your club figure out you are a good hand at keeping their 6-guns,Win '97's and lever actions running.You come home from shoots with 2 or 5 guns each month,suddenly,you are not so low key.You get famous.

Suppose you do a fine job and have happy customers....and they mention it to the guy with the brick and mortar gunshop paying taxes and fees and filling out paperwork trying to make a living,and being inspected and audited by the BATF.This gunsmith might feel frustrated and complain.

You drill and tap for a scope base,and your happy customer has a negligent discharge resulting in injury/death,or loads 72 grains of Bullseye in his 300 win mag(don't do that,its a blow up the gun load)so now,there is an investigation because somebody is hurt,lawyers are involved,and you drilled and tapped it,or worse,put on a recoil pad!

The custody thing could get important,example,you get stolen from.Six firearms are missing.They have 5 owners,not you.You are explaining the stolen guns to the police.

You get some AR tools,build your own.And,you do one for a buddy.Your buddy's cousin.They shoot good!After a while the local constable and DA have heard a rumor some guy in his garage is putting hundreds,thousands,jillions of EBR's on the street.

IMO,the penalties are high,and a variety of politics can enter into the mix.I choose to be squeeky clean legal.I do my own work,but explain to folks who want me to build for them "Law requires an FFL and I do not have one,so I do not take in work'

As I said,just an opinion.

Last edited by HiBC; February 24, 2012 at 08:58 AM.
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Old February 24, 2012, 08:14 AM   #15
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About a year or so ago, I called the ATF about trying to set up a business in which I cleaned guns, did bore sighting and very small repairs.

They sent me a packet of information and the requirements were just too much for me.

I probably could have done it under the radar, but I really try to be honest in my endeavors and thought I would go about it correctly.

The ATF agent I spoke with said if the person who owned the gun did not live in my household, then technically I would be covered under their regulations.
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Old February 24, 2012, 08:52 AM   #16
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HIBC Wrote,

Quote:
Suppose you do a fine job and have happy customers
There's the rub...

As I read the posted ATF regs, there is no issue if you do not do your work for money or other consideration...
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Old February 24, 2012, 06:03 PM   #17
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Quote:
You drill and tap for a scope base,and your happy customer has a negligent discharge resulting in injury/death,or loads 72 grains of Bullseye in his 300 win mag(don't do that,its a blow up the gun load)so now,there is an investigation because somebody is hurt,lawyers are involved,and you drilled and tapped it,or worse,put on a recoil pad!
I was just about to bring up liability considerations. It might be a hobby to you, but if someone gets killed because of a slam fire it's going to get mighty serious to somebody. I would recommend either know your limitations and don't exceed them, or maybe get insurance.
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Old February 25, 2012, 10:31 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salmoneye
As I read the posted ATF regs, there is no issue if you do not do your work for money or other consideration...
There is still an issue, I believe, because the BATFE has decreed that anyone doing gunsmithing work who keeps a firearm overnight must enter it into his bound book. No FFL ==> no bound book.

If you can turn everything around while the (non) customer waits, then this won't be an issue. It could be an issue even if you don't intend to keep guns overnight. Buddy Sam drops off a rifle to have scope rings mounted. You can do it same day, and he's supposed to pick it up at 5:15 on his way home from work. Something comes up, and he doesn't pick it up. Now you have possession of Sam's firearm overnight ... and no bound book. Maybe not even room in your safe for his firearm.
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Old February 25, 2012, 11:58 AM   #19
Don H
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AB, do you have a cite to that BATF ruling about overnight possession? My Google-fu appears to be a bit weak this morning.
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Old February 25, 2012, 12:29 PM   #20
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Im not AB, but I thought I would share this from the ATF in reference to your question. Hope you dont mind AB

Q: Does a gunsmith need to enter in a permanent “bound book” record every firearm received for adjustment or repair?

If a firearm is brought in for repairs and the owner waits while it is being repaired or if the gunsmith is able to return the firearm to the owner during the same business day, it is not necessary to list the firearm in the “bound book” as an “acquisition.” If the gunsmith has possession of the firearm from one business day to another or longer, the firearm must be recorded as an “acquisition” and a “disposition” in the permanent "bound book" record.


The above is from: http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/guns...nse-activities

Another issue you may run into. What if you have have a firearm, and the owner sends another person to pick it up? Only the owner can pick up a firearm he/she dropped off he/herself. If its returned to another person after the work is done a 4473 must be done.

Also, say you order parts for a job, when they arrive, you install them but the (non)customer doesnt have the money to pay. Without an FFL you can not hold the firearm for payment as some gunsmiths do.

Its way easier to be licensed, and work within the rules then to try to find a loophole or work around which is what this thread seems to become. While you may be on solid ground in your own mind, it doesnt stop an ATF inspector from trying to make a test case, and even if you did win in court, you still have lost in the long term.

Also, the ATF FAQ page for the bound book is here: http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/lice...-required.html

Last edited by Fishing_Cabin; February 25, 2012 at 12:37 PM.
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Old February 25, 2012, 04:24 PM   #21
Salmoneye
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Yes...I saw the 'overnight' wording about what a "Gunsmith" is required to do...

But, very clearly by definition (at least in my mind) someone that does not make money doing work is not a "Gunsmith"...

Quote:
27 CFR 478.11
(d) Gunsmith. A person who devotes time, attention, and labor to engaging in such activity as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit, but such a term shall not include a person who makes occasional repairs of firearms or who occasionally fits special barrels, stocks, or trigger mechanisms to firearms;
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Old February 25, 2012, 04:45 PM   #22
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Given the history of the ATF I would be very careful.

I remember a fellow who applied for and was denied an FFL because he did not sell enough guns.

He was arressted for selling 4 guns at a show. The charge was selling without a licensce.

Dealing with the ATF is an iffy proposition to say the least.

If you repair guns on a regular basis for people who are not immediate family or close friends you could spend alot of money proving that you are not in the trade.

They would probably take into consideration the quanity of tools and tooling which you have in your shop.
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Old February 25, 2012, 05:04 PM   #23
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Quote:
as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit
That wording seems very clear, but are you aware of the case law surrounding terms like "regular course" and "principal objective?" I am not familiar with case law regarding ATF licensing, but I do know that in other contexts the term "regular course" may not only mean doing something regularly, but can also mean "holding oneself out to be" (so an internet posting such as "I build ARs" might be problematic).

The penalties for violating ATF licensing rules are severe enough to make it worth a person's time to check with a knowledgeable lawyer rather than relying solely on internet advice.
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Old February 25, 2012, 08:01 PM   #24
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Quote:
I remember a fellow who applied for and was denied an FFL because he did not sell enough guns.
So, if I am interpreting this thread correctly the general consensus is that even if you do just a small amount of work for friends you need an FFL. However, if you do not do enough work they can decline to issues you a FFL.

Obviously this seems to make no sense at all, but we are dealing with the government, so that is about par.
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Old February 25, 2012, 09:24 PM   #25
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Quote:
So, if I am interpreting this thread correctly the general consensus is that even if you do just a small amount of work for friends you need an FFL.
Are you getting paid in money, favors, or trade?

Then yes...

You are a "Gunsmith", and need to hold an FFL, and have a tax number...

My only question was about the statements early in this thread that made it sound like anyone that took a friend, or relative's gun home 'overnight', needed to hold an FFL...

According to the linked statutes, that simply is not the case if you are not getting 'paid'...If no 'pay', then you are not a "Gunsmith" by definition...

I may be way off in my interpretation, and would be happy to be shown differently...
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