This is one of the best kept secrets out there...........
First and foremost It's a very easy thing to do. Anyone who likes old milsurp weapons will want to get a license because you can cut out the dealer and get them direct to your door. Many people worry that a C&R license will set them up for breaking the law such as what happens to dealers alot. Well, there's only a couple of pages of rules you have to follow regarding collecting as compared to volumes a dealer has to follow. The main thing to remember is that this license is for collecting. Not for selling and making a bunch of money. It's for collecting, just remember that and you'll never get in trouble. It does not give you any other rights as far as the GCA and NFA go except you can obtain C&R firearms through interstate commerce, ie-through the mail. The rule is that you can not be perceived to be in the business of dealing in firearms. You can buy and sell C&R weapons, but it is supposed to be for the enhancement of your collection. Once again- this is the complaint with ATF, be aware of this; so if you feel like your doing something that isn't right regarding sales, you probably are.
People worry about the ATF knocking down their door for a complicance inspection. Not true. The ATF has the right to inspect your books and collection no more than once a year. They must contact you to arrange this and at your discretion you can have the inspection at the nearest ATF office to you. Therefore they can't and won't go through your non C&R collection at your house. They are only concerned with the C&R stuff and your records.
The record keeping requirement is this. You get a bound book (from Brownells for $3.00). You log in any weapons you receive within 36 hours of receipt. You put down the manufacturer/or importer, model, action type, caliber, date received and the name address and/or FFL number of the person/company you got it from. Then over on the right hand side is an area to fill out if and when you ever sell the weapon. If you sell a weapon you don't have to do a background check or fill out a yellow 4473. You can't sell a handgun to a non license from another state, you can sell a rifle to a non licencee from another state as long as its done at your home (place where the collection is actually, I assume its your home). You can sell rifles to a non licensee who resides in your state as well. You need to get a photocopy of their drivers license. There's some special rules regarding sales to aliens (non US citizens, not little green people), which I won't go over. The best rule of thumb is to sell only to another licenced collector. If you decide to quit collecting, you do NOT have to send ATF your records, since you were not a dealer. There is no requirement to retain these records after you quit collecting either. If you quit, you need to send your license back to them and tell them you quit. If you let your license lapse after the three years, then that's that and nothing needs to be done.
OK enough FAQ's. Here's how you go about getting a license:
1) Get the two page form from http://www.atf.treas.gov/forms/pdfs/print2.htm
NOTE AS OF 2002 YOU MUST ALSO FILL OUT THE CERTIFICATION OF REQUIREMENTS FORM WHICH CAN BE OBTAINED AT THE SAME LINK ABOVE. You need adobe acrobat to access these forms. You can download a copy of acrobat at www.adobe.com
Cruffler.com has alot of useful info regarding licensing as well, you should check it out.
2) Carefully fill out the form in duplicate. It's very similar to a 4473 you fill out at the gun store. The questions are the same. There is a place on the form for your local chief law enforcements officer's (CLEO) name and address so you'll need to know who he is and where he is. The second set of forms are mailed to the CLEO. Send it with a cover letter saying as per federal regulations here is a copy of my application for a federal firearms license. He has ABSOLUTELY NO SAY in your getting or not getting a license. It is just a requirement that you send a copy of the forms to him.
One thing I will add is make sure you send it to the right CLEO! It may not be your local police chief, in my case it was the county Sheriff. When it asks for business name and business this and that just put in 'private collector' or something to that effect. If you are a felon or can't pass the regular NICS check then don't waste your time. However if you always pass the NICS check when you buy a gun, you will be approved for the license. You have to be 21.
3) Send the completed forms along with a check for $30 to the address listed on the forms.
4) Wait 4 to 6 weeks. While you're waiting I would suggest getting your bound book from www.Brownells.com
. By the way send Brownells a copy of your license after you get it and they'll give you the codes for dealer pricing in their catalog. The bound book isn't discounted so there's no sense in waiting. You'll pay $3.00 for the book and $6.95 for shipping though, so maybe you'll want to wait for your discount and order other stuff too. I didn't wait because I wanted my book so I could start collecting right away.
5) One day your license will arrive in the mail. DO NO SIGN the original
At the same time or shortly after you'll get a bunch of regulations books, the C&R list (book, it's a long list). You'll also get a bunch of 4473's and other stuff meant for dealers. You don't need that stuff, it's for dealers. They send that stuff out to everyone. Keep the 'Youth Handgun Safety notice' because if you ever sell a handgun you're required to give that to the buyer. It's a blue pamplet. You don't need the youth handgun safety sign they send you.
6) Immediately make a ton of copies of the original license. DO NO SIGN the original
. You send the signed COPIES to every dealer there is and ask for a current catalog.
7) Start collecting.
If you move you have to fill out the form titled "application for ammended license." This form can be found at the ATF web site under forms. It's a one page form that basically askes for old and new address.
You fill this form out in duplicate. Mail one completed form along with your original license to the ATF, mail the other form to the CLEO in your new area. You don't have to send ATF anymore money. It takes about 3 to 4 weeks to get your new license. If you move before you get your ammended license, you'll have to stop collecting activities until it arrives.
The ATF specifies that you need to send the application for ammended license in 6 weeks before you move, however that's sometime impossible to know. When I moved I didn't know what my PO Box was going to be until after I already moved. Therefore I had to send it in after I moved and I had to quit collecting for about a month while I awaited my new license.
There's a whole list of FAQ's over at
as well as the C&R weapons list.
and more good info at http://www.cruffler.com/whatis.html