ATF

Sample Block


Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives


18 U.S.C.
922(t)(1)(C): IDENTIFICATION OF TRANSFEREE
27 CFR
178.124: FIREARMS TRANSACTION RECORD

Licensees
may accept a combination of valid government-issued documents to satisfy the
identification document requirements of the Brady Act. The required valid
government-issued photo identification document bearing the name, photograph,
and date of birth of the transferee may be supplemented by another valid,
government-issued document showing the transferee's residence address. A member
of the Armed Forces on active duty is a resident of the State in which his
or her permanent duty station
is
located, and may satisfy the identification document requirement by presenting
his or her military identification card along with official orders showing
that his or her permanent duty station is within the State where the licensed
premises are located.

ATF Ruling 79-7 is superseded.

ATF Rul. 2001-5

The Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has received numerous inquiries from Federal firearms
licensees (FFLs) regarding the acceptance of identification documents that do
not show the purchaser's current residence address. FFLs have asked whether
they may accept other documents, such as tax bills or vehicle registration documents,
to establish the current residence address of the purchaser.

It has been ATF's longstanding
position that licensees may accept a combination of documents to establish the
identity of a firearm purchaser. ATF Rul. 79-7, ATFQB 79-1, 26, interpreted
a licensee's obligation to obtain satisfactory identification from a purchaser
in the manner customarily used in
commercial
transactions, pursuant to the existing regulations under the Gun Control Act
of 1968 (GCA). The ruling held that satisfactory identification of a firearms
purchaser must include the purchaser's name, age or date of birth, place of
residence, and signature. The ruling also held that while a particular document
may not be sufficient to meet the statutory requirement for identifying the
purchaser, any combination of documents that together disclosed the required
information would be acceptable.

ATF Rul. 79-7 has been
superseded by an amendment to the GCA. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention
Act (Brady Act), which took effect in 1994, mandated the use of photo identification
documents for transfers subject to the Act. Under the permanent provisions of
the Brady Act, which went into effect on November 30, 1998, a licensed importer,
manufacturer, or dealer is generally required to initiate a background check
through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) prior to
transferring a firearm to an unlicensed individual.

The Brady Act requires
a licensee to identify the nonlicensed transferee by examining a valid government-issued
identification document that contains the photograph of the holder. See
18 U.S.C. 922(t)(1)(C). This requirement applies to all over-the-counter transfers,
even where the transferee holds a
permit
that qualifies as an exception to the requirement for a NICS check at the time
of transfer. 27 CFR 178.124(c)(3)(i).

The Brady Act incorporates
the definition of an "identification document" provided by 18 U.S.C. 1028(d)(2),
which is set forth in relevant part as follows:

[A] document made or
issued by or under the authority of the United States Government, a State,
political subdivision of a State, a foreign government, political subdivision
of a foreign government, an international governmental or an international
quasi-governmental organization which, when completed with information concerning
a particular individual, is of a type intended or commonly accepted for
the purpose of identification of individuals.

ATF regulations further
require that the identification document must contain the name, residence address,
date of birth, and photograph of the holder. 27 CFR 178.11.

ATF has received questions
from licensees regarding purchasers who present a State-issued driver's license
or other identification document that shows either an out-of-date residence
address or a mailing address (such as
a
post office box) in lieu of a residence address. ATF has advised that these
identification documents, standing alone, would not satisfy the requirements
of the regulations implementing the Brady Act.

It is ATF's position
that a combination of documents may be used to satisfy the Brady Act's requirement
for an identification document. The prospective transferee must present at least
one valid document that meets the statutory definition of an identification
document; i.e., it must bear the transferee's name and photograph, it must have
been issued by a governmental entity, and it must be of a type intended or commonly
accepted for identification purposes. ATF recognizes, however, that some valid
government-issued identification documents do not include the bearer's current
residence address. Such an identification document may be supplemented with
another valid government-issued document that contains the necessary information.

Thus, for example, a
licensee may accept a valid driver's license that accurately reflects the purchaser's
name, date of birth, and photograph, along with a vehicle registration issued
by the State indicating the transferee's current address. Licensees should note
that if the law of the State that issued the driver's license provides that
the driver's license is invalid due to any reason (i.e., the license
is expired or is no longer valid due to an unreported change of address), then
the driver's license may not be used for identification purposes under the Brady
Act. If a licensee has reasonable cause to question the validity of an identification
document, he or she should not proceed with the transfer until those questions
can be resolved.

The licensee
must record on the Form 4473 the type of identification document(s) presented
by the transferee, including any document number. Examples of documents that
may be accepted to supplement information on a driver's license or other identification
document include a vehicle registration, a recreation identification card, a
fishing or hunting license, a voter identification card, or a tax bill. However,
the document in question must be valid and must have been issued by a government
agency.

ATF has also received
questions from licensees as to how to comply with the identification document
requirement in the case of purchasers who are in the military. Some active duty
military personnel may not have driver's licenses from the State in which they
are stationed. The only identification document carried by some active duty
military personnel is a military identification card that bears the holder's
name, date of birth, and photograph, but does not reflect the holder's residence
address.

Section 921(b) of the
GCA provides that a member of the Armed Forces on active duty is a resident
of the State in which his permanent duty station is located. The purchaser's
official orders showing that his or her permanent duty station is within the
State where the licensed premises are located suffice to establish the purchaser's
residence for GCA purposes. In
combination
with a military identification card, such orders will satisfy the Brady Act's
requirement for an identification document, even though the purchaser may actually
reside in a home that is not located on the military base.

Licensees should note
that for purposes of the GCA, military personnel may in some cases have two
States of residence. For example, a member of the Armed Forces whose permanent
duty station is Fort Benning, Georgia, may actually reside in a home in Alabama.
For GCA purposes, that individual is a resident of Georgia when he or she is
in Georgia and a resident of Alabama when he or she is in Alabama. If such an
individual wishes to purchase a firearm in Alabama, he or she must of course
comply with the identification document requirement in the same way as any other
Alabama resident.

Held,
the Brady Act and the implementing ATF regulations require licensed importers,
manufacturers, and dealers to examine a valid government-issued identification
document that bears the name, residence address, date of birth, and photograph
of the holder prior to making an over-the-counter transfer to any unlicensed
transferee. Licensees may accept a combination of valid, government-issued documents
to satisfy the identification document requirements of the Brady Act. A government-issued
photo identification document bearing the name, photograph, and date of birth
of the transferee may be supplemented by another valid, government-issued document
showing the transferee's current residence address.

Held further, a purchaser
who is a member of the Armed Forces on active duty is a resident of the State
in which his or her permanent duty station is located, and may satisfy the identification
document requirement by presenting his or her military identification card along
with official orders showing that his or her permanent duty station is located
within the State where the licensed premises are located.

ATF Ruling 79-7, ATFQB
79-1, 26, is hereby superseded.

Date signed: December
31, 2001