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What happens to those background check forms and state police forms that I fill out when I buy a gun from an FFL? Do they get destroyed, or are they sent to like a database? Just wondering, I've never been clear on it.
 

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I'm not sure the number. I live in VA, so when I go buy guns I fill out 2 forms. One of them is a background check form, the other is a state police form. The state police form is to make sure I'm obeying my 1 handgun per month limit and that I'm not wanted in the state for anything. I just want to make sure that there is no secret shenanigans going on with them.
 

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If you are referring to the 4473's, they are required to be kept by the dealer. If the dealer goes out of business, they are required to be sent to BATFE.

Don't know what they do with your state forms.
 

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TITLE 27 - ALCOHOL, TOBACCO PRODUCTS, AND FIREARMS

CHAPTER II - BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, FIREARMS, AND EXPLOSIVES, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

SUBCHAPTER B - FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION

PART 478 - COMMERCE IN FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION

subpart h - RECORDS

478.129 - Record retention.

(a) Records prior to Act. Licensed importers and licensed manufacturers may dispose of records of sale or other disposition of firearms prior to December 16, 1968. Licensed dealers and licensed collectors may dispose of all records of firearms transactions that occurred prior to December 16, 1968.

(b) Firearms transaction record. Licensees shall retain each Form 4473 and Form 4473(LV) for a period of not less than 20 years after the date of sale or disposition. Where a licensee has initiated a NICS check for a proposed firearms transaction, but the sale, delivery, or transfer of the firearm is not made, the licensee shall record any transaction number on the Form 4473, and retain the Form 4473 for a period of not less than 5 years after the date of the NICS inquiry. Forms 4473 shall be retained in the licensee's records as provided in 478.124(b): Provided, That Forms 4473 with respect to which a sale, delivery or transfer did not take place shall be separately retained in alphabetical (by name of transferee) or chronological (by date of transferee's certification) order.

(c) Statement of intent to obtain a handgun, reports of multiple sales or other disposition of pistols and revolvers, and reports of theft or loss of firearms. Licensees shall retain each Form 5300.35 (Statement of Intent to Obtain a Handgun(s)) for a period of not less than 5 years after notice of the intent to obtain the handgun was forwarded to the chief law enforcement officer, as defined in 478.150(c). Licensees shall retain each copy of Form 3310.4 (Report of Multiple Sale or Other Disposition of Pistols and Revolvers) for a period of not less than 5 years after the date of sale or other disposition. Licensees shall retain each copy of Form 3310.11 (Federal Firearms Licensee Theft/Loss Report) for a period of not less than 5 years after the date the theft or loss was reported to ATF.

(d) Records of importation and manufacture. Licensees will maintain permanent records of the importation, manufacture, or other acquisition of firearms, including ATF Forms 6 and 6A as required by subpart G of this part. Licensed importers' records and licensed manufacturers' records of the sale or other disposition of firearms after December 15, 1968, shall be retained through December 15, 1988, after which records of transactions over 20 years of age may be discarded.

(e) Records of dealers and collectors under the Act. The records prepared by licensed dealers and licensed collectors under the Act of the sale or other disposition of firearms and the corresponding record of receipt of such firearms shall be retained through December 15, 1988, after which records of transactions over 20 years of age may be discarded.

(f) Retention of records of transactions in semiautomatic assault weapons. The documentation required by 478.40(c) and 478.132 shall be retained in the licensee's permanent records for a period of not less than 5 years after the date of sale or other disposition. (Paragraph (b) approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 1512 0544; Paragraph (c) approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control numbers 15120520, 15120006, and 15120524; Paragraph (f) approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 15120526; all other recordkeeping approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 15120129) [T.D. ATF208, 50 FR 26704, June 28, 1985 and correctly designated at 50 FR 35081, Aug. 29, 1985, as amended by T.D. ATF273, 53 FR 24687, June 30, 1988; T.D. ATF361, 60 FR 10787, Feb. 27, 1995; T.D. ATF363, 60 FR 17455, Apr. 6, 1995; T.D. ATF415, 63 FR 58280, Oct. 29, 1998; T.D. ATF426, 65 FR 38201, June 20, 2000]
 

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http://armedcanadian.blogspot.com/2008/06/q-is-form-4473-sent-to-government.html

I had the search term "form 4473" is it sent to the government appear in my logs. I guess someone is curious so I will try to answer for them.

The answer is: Yes and No.

Generally, no. The law requires that any ATF Form 4473 remain with the dealer that sold the firearm. The ATF is permitted to inspect the forms as part of normal auditing procedures and during criminal investigations. But as long as the dealer remains in business, the forms stay with the dealer for 20 years. I believe that forms older than 20 years can be destroyed. However, the firearms transfer log (aka "Bound Book") maintained by the dealer is never destroyed and generally contains most of the information found on the 4473..

However, should a dealer go out of business, their "Bound Book" and Form 4473s in their possession revert to the ATF for archiving. Under current law, the ATF is NOT permitted to create a database out of these records. It is believed by many that the ATF has done so anyway and is maintaining an illegal, if limited, firearms registry. That is the "Yes" portion of this answer.

In general sales to you from an FFL, you need not have any worry that the forms you filed out are going to the Federal government. State level is a different thing. Many states have their own state transaction forms and record retention requirements vary widely. Some states retain them permanently and some do maintain firearm registries with them. Others retain them for a short period of time (months to a couple of years) and then destroy them. In such states after the state retention period has expired, the only information the state has that you have purchased a firearm lies with the dealer.

Also note that the approval information from NICS background check is only retained for 24 hours and is destroyed. This is likewise required by law and only some limited, random records may be retained for auditing purposes and then likewise destroyed.
 
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