Use of New ATF Form 4473 Becomes Mandatory November 1st

Ah, the venerable BATFE Form 4473. That pesky bit of paperwork that we all have to fill out when purchasing a firearm. Sign here. Date there. One drop of virgin blood on line 96. Just when we’re getting used to the N/A box instead of just leaving the last line blank, gun purchasers are gearing up for the new and improved 2020 revision of our favorite bit of totally-not-a-registry busy work. The new form is required to be used starting 1 November, 2020.

Gone are the the days of “fill out the front page, sign the back, and the rest is for me.” In addition to increased options for personal information, the form is now a rousing game of pass-the-form-back-and-forth.

The new Section A is now the old page 3, now in a convenient, easy to reach top of page 1 – the details of the firearm or firearms being purchased – to be filled out by the seller before the purchaser gets to do their part. Something catches your eye and want to add it to your bill? I suppose you aren’t strictly following the instructions unless you fill out a second from. 

Section B (nee section A) is largely the same as the old form – all of your personal information, albeit now with expanded choices when the purchaser goes to mark what sex they are. Or as which they identify. To make matters clearer, since hardly anybody ever leaves 18a blank and only fills out 18b, they removed the reminder that both need to be filled out. On the plus side, the bureau did finally move the country of citizenship to a place that makes sense.

Once you’re done providing your info on the form, it’s the seller’s turn to take another whack at it by completing section C, which they normally would have done along with section B which is now section A because section A is now Section B.

All in all, the changes are not tremendous, but it is a bit of a pain for both sides of the counter. Based on the number of fouled up 4473s that I’ve seen go through the shredder on the forms that have been around since 2016 (and the ones that were around since 2012), I foresee a good amount of confusion and mistakes for a while.

If you haven’t already seen the new forms at your LGS, they are coming and will be mandatory in a couple of weeks.


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