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Fact Sheet - Federal Firearms and Explosives Licenses by Types

March, 2016
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Fast Facts

  1. ATF's Federal Firearms Licensing Center issues and renews federal firearms licenses in accordance with the Gun Control Act of 1968.

  2. ATF's Federal Explosives Licensing Center issues and renews federal explosives licenses and permits submitted by industry members who manufacture, deal in, import, or receive explosive materials.

  3. There are 11 types of federal firearms licenses and three types of explosives licenses and permits.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Federal Firearms Licensing Center (FFLC) issues and renews Federal Firearms Licenses (FFLs) in accordance with the Gun Control Act of 1968. The FFLC reviews and acts upon all applications for federal firearms licenses, coordinates the inspection of applicants with appropriate ATF field offices, and performs background checks on all responsible persons. The FFLC maintains the Firearms Licensing System (FLS) database. The branch provides certification to ATF field personnel on subjects’ license status; and provides a call center to respond to inquiries from the public and the industry.

The FFLC performs the following functions:

  • Processes all FFL applications and reviews application data; conducts thorough background investigations (BIs); and issues FFLs. The FFLC forwards FFL applications to the appropriate ATF field office, which coordinates field inspections and provides final approval to issue the FFL.
  • Provides an official repository and archive of all firearms license-related documents and ensures that all documents are properly prepared for digital imaging. Maintains audiotapes and CDs of licensee hearings related to adverse actions. Upon request, provides copies of documents and/or audio media regarding administrative hearings, congressional correspondence, and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
  • Supports ATF investigations by providing Blue Ribbon Certifications and direct testimony to verify the licensed status of defendants and others related to criminal prosecutions or adverse actions.

Types of Federal Firearms Licenses:

Type 01 - Dealer in Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices
Type 02 - Pawnbroker in Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices
Type 03 - Collector of Curios and Relics
Type 06 - Manufacturer of Ammunition for Firearms Other Than Ammunition for Destructive Devices or Armor Piercing Ammunition
Type 07 - Manufacturer of Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices
Type 08 - Importer of Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices or Ammunition for Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices, or Ammunition Other Than Armor Piercing Ammunition
Type 09 - Dealer in Destructive Devices
Type 10 - Manufacturer of Destructive Devices, Ammunition for Destructive Devices or Armor Piercing Ammunition
Type 11 - Importer of Destructive Devices, Ammunition for Destructive Devices or Armor Piercing Ammunition

Federal Firearms Licensees Total (2005-2015)
Graph of Federal Firearms Licensees Total from Years 2005-2015

The Federal Explosives Licensing Center (FELC) issues and renews federal explosives licenses and permits (FELs/FEPs) submitted by industry members who manufacture, deal in, import, or receive explosive materials. The FELC reviews and acts upon all applications for explosives licenses and permits, coordinates applicant inspections with the appropriate ATF field offices, and performs background checks on all responsible persons and employee possessors.

Title XI of the Organized Crime Control Act (OCCA) of 1970 established ATF’s explosives licensing jurisdiction and the Safe Explosives Act of 2002 amended the OCCA. Consequently, ATF established the FELC as a separate organizational entity to review and act upon applications in accordance with the law and regulations to deny access to individuals prohibited by law from receiving and/or possessing explosives. The FELC provides certification to ATF field personnel on license status and provides a call center to respond to inquiries from the general public and members of the industry.

The FELC performs the following additional functions:

  • Upon receipt of FEL or FEP applications, the FELC enters the data into ATF’s Federal Licensing System (FLS) and transmits identification data to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for required background checks. Depending upon the result of background checks and other factors, the FELC either issues letters of clearance or denial. The FELC also processes appeals from individuals whose background checks indicate that they are prohibited from receiving or possessing explosives.
  • The FELC serves as the official repository and archive for all explosives license-related documents and ensures that all documents are properly prepared for digital imaging. The FELC provides copies of documents for court cases, congressional correspondence, and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests upon request.
  • In support of ATF investigations, the FELC provides Blue Ribbon Certification and direct testimony to verify the licensed status of defendants and others related to criminal prosecutions or adverse actions.
  • The FELC works with ATF field offices to coordinate applicant inspections and obtain omitted or incomplete application data.
  • The FELC participates in explosives industry conferences, seminars, and trade shows to promote voluntary compliance within the industry.
  • FELC provides input regarding ATF rulings that clarifies regulations governing the industry’s business practices.

Types of Explosives Licenses
Manufacturer
Importer
Dealer

Types of Explosives Permits
User of Explosives
User Limited of Explosives
Limited Permit Intrastate Only

Firearms & Explosives Services Division Statistics
FY 2005 - FY 2015

FY FFL* FEL/FEP**
2005
106,432
12,213
2006
107,316
11,797
2007
108,933
11,110
2008
112,943
11,208
2009
115,395
11,195
2010
118,487
10,791
2011
123,587
10,565
2012
130,956
10,537
2013
139,244
10,495
2014
141,116
10,455
2015
139,840
10,440

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