Here is Ryan’s full testimony (available on the House Judiciary site)

MAY 22, 2024
Good morning Chairman Jordan, Ranking Member Plaskett, and members of the Subcommittee. I am
Ryan Cleckner, an attorney specializing in federal firearms law and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) compliance.
I am actively involved in the firearms industry and I help Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to stay
compliant with federal laws and ATF rules and regulations through online training at RocketFFL and,
most recently, I co-founded a software company, FFLSafe, that provides free ATF compliance software
for all FFLs to help keep them compliant. I am also a former firearms industry executive, university
lecturer and special operations sniper.
I am here today because I am concerned with, what I see as, the over-reach of the ATF when it comes to
their enforcement actions over FFLs and the current administration’s “zero tolerance” policy when it
comes to licensee inspections.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) is the main body of law concerning standard firearms and the
Federal Firearms Licensing system. Specifically, the GCA allows the ATF to revoke an FFL’s license for a
“willful” violation of the law. 1
Originally, the GCA had no such “willfulness” standard. Congress, in 1986, amended the GCA to
specifically include the willfulness requirement “to ensure that licenses are not revoked for inadvertent
errors or technical mistakes.” 2
The Senate notes on the matter referenced Rich v. United States, 383 F. Supp. 797 (SD.
Ohio 1974) wherein the ATF was required to “reissue [a] license absent a showing of willful violation”
because willful was found to mean “purposeful, intentional behavior.”
18 U.S.C. § 923(e) 1
98th Congress, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, S.914 Report 2
The addition of a “willful” standard by Congress was significant because an FFL’s compliance obligations
are largely clerical and technical in nature and, in some instances, a mere typo could be considered a
violation of the GCA. By requiring “willfulness,” Congress clearly raised the standard for revocation to
only include situations in which a licensee purposefully and intentionally violates the law.
The Administration’s current “zero tolerance” policy flies in the face of Congress’s intent, it is causing
harm to otherwise law-abiding FFLs, and it is wasting ATF’s limited resources.
I have a client, Point Blank Firearms, an FFL in Michigan, that is a perfect example of the harm caused by
this “zero tolerance” policy and over-reach by the ATF.
The ATF is currently trying to revoke their license based on an inspection that started on July 26th of last
year. On April 9th of this year, the acting Director of Industry Operations (DIO) for the Detroit Field
Division provided my client with a Notice of Revocation (NOR). We elected to have a hearing on the
matter and we have yet to be provided with a hearing date.
My clients, the owners of Point Blank, are here with me now while their employees are back home unsure
of their jobs. And, one of the owners, a first generation Arab-American, also owns a second FFL business
with another partner who is being denied his due process because they have had their ATF inspection
ongoing for almost a year now pending the outcome of this company’s revocation proceeding.
In this matter, the ATF falsely claimed that my client had 308 missing firearm transaction forms (4473s).
In reality, my client has 0 missing 4473s – every single one has been located, matches the FBI background
check numbers, and bears the customers’ signature.
The ATF also falsely claimed that my client transferred a firearm to a customer more than 30 days after
successfully passing their background check. In reality, my client transferred the firearm on the very same
day the background check was passed – well within the 30 days allowed in accordance with the law and
ATF rules and regulations.
To be fair, the ATF inspectors were not aware of the facts during the inspection and the decision by the
ATF to issue the Notice of Revocation was based on their misunderstanding of the situation. However, we
showed the ATF that its revocation decision is based on erroneous information. We showed ATF that there
were, in fact, no missing forms nor late transfers. There is clearly no public safety issue. No firearms were
transferred without a 4473, without a background check, nor to a prohibited person. Despite the
information we provided to ATF that the revocation was based on factually incorrect assumptions the ATF
responded by dismissing the new information and continuing to pursue revocation.
I’m going to share a few facts about my client that are relevant to understand what type of FFL the ATF is
spending all of this time, energy, and money trying to shut down:

  • In the over 12,000 firearms acquired by Point Blank, not a single firearm has ever been lost or stolen.
  • Point Blank has 100% 4473 accountability – over 11,500 of them.
  • Point Blank has never transferred a firearm to someone who failed a background check.
  • Point Blank has never failed to make, submit, nor properly store a multiple handgun sales form.
  • Not once, in the approximately 300 trace requests received by the ATF, has Point Blank failed to
    provide accurate and timely information.
    In summary, Point Blank has never engaged in any activity, even accidentally, that would have any
    negative impact on public safety. Point Blank takes its role as an FFL seriously and views itself as the
    front line helping to prevent the criminal acquisition of firearms.
    Point Blank has been living with the threat of being shut down for 10 months. Just this week ATF falsely
    accused them of failing to respond to a trace request. Thankfully, Point Blank keeps good records and was
    able to show that they complied and that the ATF was mistaken, again.
    ATF’s “zero-tolerance” policy is misguided and wasting the ATF’s limited resources. This overzealous
    policy is harming ATF’s relationship with retailers upon which ATF relies to provide information on
    suspicious activity.
    ATF should focus its resources on taking “trigger pullers” off the street – not shutting down honest, hard
    working and law-abiding gun stores. Congress never intended for ATF to shut down FFLs for minor
    clerical errors that are not “willful violations.”
    Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today. I’m willing to answer any questions you may have,
    Ryan Cleckner