Enthusiasts can expect to be filling out yet another new version of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) Form 4473 soon, if not already, when they purchase or transfer a firearm. The revision was released in late August, roughly eight months after the latest iteration appeared in December 2022.
The modification came on the heels of 60- and 30-day Notice and Comment periods. The majority of changes shuffle the questions’ order of appearance. A BATFE webpage that details the differences, for example, explains, what was originally question 21.b on the previous 4473 that inquired, “’Do you intend to purchase or acquire any firearm listed on this form and any continuation sheet(s) or ammunition, for sale of other disposition to any person described in questions 21(b)-(l) or to a person described in question 21.m.1 who does not fall within a nonimmigrant exception?’ has been moved and is now question 21.n.”
There are other changes worth noting. Question 21.m.1 no longer provides new owners with the hint that, “(U.S. citizens/nationals leave 21.n.1 and 21.n.2 blank).”
Some changes also impact business owners as well. Full details are available on the above-linked webpage for full details. Enthusiasts are encouraged to take their time when transferring a firearm, doing so slowly and printing clearly to minimize the chances their favorite FFL will become another victim of the recent number of FFL license revocations—some attributed to minor paperwork errors.
BATFE is encouraging FFL’s to begin the new Form 4473 immediately by downloading copies from its website. Hard copies will not be available through the Bureau’s Distribution Center until Nov. 1 and use of the new form becomes mandatory on Feb. 1, 2024.
In the meantime enthusiasts can expect to encounter old form, likely through the holidays, or at least until their favorite FFL runs out of the forms they purchased less than eight months ago.