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Fact Sheet - Industry Operations Investigators (IOI)

December, 2019
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Fast Facts

  1. ATF IOIs conduct inspections of federally licensed firearms dealers, pawnbrokers, importers, and manufacturers.  Additionally, IOIs conduct inspections of federally licensed dealers, manufacturers and importers of explosives and permitted users of explosives. 

  2. ATF IOIs conduct qualification inspections of individuals and businesses that have applied for a federal firearms or explosives license.  As part of the qualification inspection, the IOIs verify that the applicant has meet the established legal requirements for obtaining a federal license.

  3. In fiscal year 2018, there were 641 field IOIs.  During this time period, ATF IOIs conducted 10,323 firearms compliance inspections, 11,893 firearms application inspections, 4,573 explosive compliance inspections, and 979 explosive application inspections.

ATF industry operations investigators (IOI) are the backbone of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) regulatory mission. IOIs conduct investigations and inspections of the industries and persons regulated by ATF to include firearms and explosives users, dealers, importers, exporters, manufacturers, and wholesalers, and those under the jurisdiction of the Gun Control Act, National Firearms Act, Arms Export Control Act, Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, and other federal firearms and explosives laws and regulations. ATF currently employs over 800 IOIs, of which 641 are based in the field for the purpose of conducting these investigations and inspections.

The work of an ATF IOI is primarily investigative and routinely involves contact with, and interviews of, federal firearms licensees and explosives licensees and permittees, the general public, and other local, state, and federal agencies.

Major duties of an IOI include:

  • Conducting investigations and inspections designed to carry out the federal government’s regulatory responsibilities pertaining to the firearms and explosives industries.
  • Identifying regulatory violations, such as failure to maintain required records and failure to comply with background check requirements on the sale of firearms; and identifying possible criminal violations, such as straw purchases and underage sales.
  • Conducting firearms and explosives inventories during inspections to verify that no firearms or explosives are missing and to ensure the traceability of both commodities; additionally, to ensure explosives are stored safely and in compliance with the laws and regulations to protect the public.
  • Conducting qualification inspections to verify firearms and explosives applicants meet all established legal requirements for obtaining a federal permit or license. Qualification inspections include an in-person interview of the applicant, an inspection of the proposed business premises and any applicable storage locations, and a review of the federal laws and regulations applicable to firearms and explosives licensees and permittees.
  • Performing industry outreach and education is also a crucial component of the IOI position.  IOIs conduct informational sessions and presentations for industry members, associations, and the public to enhance their understanding of the federal laws and regulations with which they are required to comply.

In fiscal year 2018, ATF’s 641 field IOIs conducted 10,323 firearm compliance inspections, 11,893 firearm application inspections, 4,573 explosive compliance inspections, and 979 explosive application inspections.

IOIs are trained at the ATF National Academy, located at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Ga. Newly hired IOIs complete the Industry Operations Investigator Basic Training (IOIBT) which is a comprehensive 10-week program designed to train new IOIs in the basic knowledge, skills, and abilities they need to effectively conduct investigations and inspections of firearms and explosives licensees and permittees, as well as provide assistance to other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. 

IOI trainees receive instruction on procedures for properly conducting firearms and explosives compliance and qualification inspections, including how to conduct inspections safely and in accordance with all pertinent laws and regulations.  Training is also provided on explosives and firearms identification, firearms and explosives laws and regulatory requirements, firearms and explosives safe handling, research skills, case management, business entities, interviewing techniques, recognizing trafficking and diversion schemes, and procedures for obtaining permits and/or licenses to import, manufacture, or sell regulated products. 

IOI trainees demonstrate their newly acquired knowledge, skills and abilities, through a variety of individual and group practical exercises during IOIBT.  Practical exercises include interviewing scenarios, explosives safe handling, firearms identification, simulated inspections, and courtroom testimony.

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