FFLs should view this lull in sales as a great time of opportunity to get their compliance house in order.
Each January, I speak at various firearms distributor trade shows to discuss the state of firearms compliance and the ongoing regulatory efforts by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms. This past year, I added to my normal pro-compliance comments that firearms sales were cresting. If the downturn in the market wasn’t obvious then, it is now.
I think we can all agree that the bubble has burst on firearms sales, for the time being at least. FFLs far and wide are looking for ways to tighten their belts until the next great surge of gun sales, which may not come until we hear if there will be yet another Clinton in the White House in 2016.
But don’t be fooled. This is actually a great time of OPPORTUNITY for FFLs. Here’s why:
For some time during the gun sales extravaganza of 2012-2013, firearms were flying in and out the door of FFLs so fast that compliance became a second thought. Tsk, tsk! Sloppy 4473s, open entries in the Acquisition & Disposition record, missed filings of Multiple Sales forms, and – in the worst cases – theft/loss scenarios were more abundant. Makes sense – more guns, more potential compliance issues.
That said, don’t think for a second that a slower sales environment means a more lax ATF. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
A recent Washington Times article noted what we, at FFLGuard, have been touting for years: the ATF has evolved into more of a regulatory force than a law enforcement agency. Whether ATF claims to be underfunded, undermanned, or under fire, they are still in more gun stores than ever before. This means, as respected firearms blogger David Codrea recently noted, that when it’s time for someone to “pay the piper,” it won’t be real criminals that get the shaft, it will be some poor FFL that hasn’t kept his books up to snuff.
Don’t let that be you. Go back at least one year and cross your t’s, dot your i’s, and scrub your books. Do an inventory. Use this downtime to ratchet up the compliance levels in your operation, and lie in wait for the next great surge of sales while your competition – worried about penny pinching on other less important things – gets picked off one-by-one by the government.
It’s survival of the fittest, and now’s the perfect time for FFLs to get fit.