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ATF: Penalties and Sanctions

April 26, 2011


Section 15.1  NFA.

15.1.1  Criminal.  The acts prohibited by the NFA and prosecutable as Federal offenses are listed in 26 U.S.C. 5861(a) through (l).  As provided by 26 U.S.C. 5871, any person who commits an offense shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 10 years or fined.  Although the fine specified in the statute is an amount not exceeding $10,000, an amendment to Federal law provides for a fine of not more than $250,000 in the case of an individual or $500,000 in the case of an organization.

15.1.2  Forfeiture.  Any firearm involved in any violation of the NFA is subject to seizure and forfeiture.

15.1.3  Assessment of NFA tax.  ATF may assess tax liabilities under the NFA, including penalties and interest, as provided by the Internal Revenue Code.

Section 15.2  GCA.

15.2.1  Criminal.  The criminal penalties for violations of the GCA are provided for in 18 U.S.C. § 924. The criminal penalties in the GCA include both felonies and misdemeanors.  For misdemeanors, the fines would be not more than $100,000 for individuals or $200,000 in the case of organizations.  The criminal provisions of the NFA are found in 26 U.S.C. § 5871.  As in the case of NFA offenses, fines for violation of the felony provisions would be not more than $250,000 in the case of an individual or $500,000 in the case of an organization.

15.2.2  Forfeiture.  The GCA also provides for the forfeiture of firearms and ammunition involved in certain violations of the GCA and other violations of the criminal laws of the United States in 18 U.S.C. 924(d).

15.2.3  License denial or revocation.  ATF may issue a notice of denial of an application for a Federal firearms license where it determines that the applicant fails to meet the licensing requirements of 18 U.S.C. 923(d).

It may also issue a notice of revocation of a license when it determines that an FFL has willfully violated the GCA or its implementing regulations.

For the applicable procedures, see ATF’s regulations in 27 CFR Part 478, Subpart E.  Note that the courts have held that a person’s conduct was  “willful” where the evidence showed that the FFL knew of his legal obligation and disregarded or was plainly indifferent to that obligation. [18 U.S.C. 3571(b) and (c); 26 U.S.C. 5872; 27 CFR 479.191; 27 CFR 478.47, 478.71; 18 U.S.C. 923(e); 27 CFR 478.73; Bryan V. United States, 524 U.S. 184 (1998) [note: this is criminal case, not civil license revocation.]


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