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An auctioneer who is a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) may conduct business as an FFL generally, “at the address specified therein.” typically considered the (an) improvement of the real property address with a door, secured areas, etc.

In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Curtis W. Gilbert, Acting Assistant Director U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Enforcement Programs & Services released an open letter April 10, 2020, regarding distributing firearms and/or conducting business outside of that brick-and-mortar structure at the address listed on the license.

The entire letter can be read here: ATF Business Premises Guidance Letter 4-10-2020. Specifically from the letter:

    1. An FFL may carry out the requested activities through a drive-up or walk-up window or doorway where the customer is on the licensee’s property on the exterior of the brick-and-mortar structure at the address listed on the license.
    2. An FFL may also carry out the requested activities from a temporary table or booth located in a parking lot or other exterior location on the licensee’s property at the address listed on the license, but any such activities must occur in a location where the licensee has the authority to permit ATF’s entry for inspection purposes. Whether the FFL has the authority to permit such entry, and whether a location constitutes the FFL’s property, is likely to be a fact-specific inquiry. An FFL carrying out the requested activities from an exterior table or booth should maintain its inventory and records securely in the interior of the brick-and-mortar structure and ensure that the records of each firearms transaction are stored in the interior.
    3. An FFL may not carry out the requested activities from a nearby space that is not located on the licensee’s property at the address listed on the license, unless such activities are at a qualified in-state gun show or event, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 923(j) and 27 C.F.R. § 478.100, or other provision of federal law.
    4. An FFL may conduct non-over-the-counter firearm sales to unlicensed in-state residents who are exempt from NICS requirements in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 922(c), 27 § C.F.R. 478.96, and ATF Procedure 2013-2.

In short, the actual transfer of firearms from a licensee could take place outside the brick-and-mortar structure, such as a table outside on the subject property and/or a drive-up or walk-up window where the buyer is outside and the licensee is inside.

These rule changes are temporary and will likely be withdrawn when the pandemic has passed. Until then, it is clear the ATF is allowing for more social distancing and addressing mass gatherings — making it easier for an FFL to physically transfer firearms directly to buyers.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.