ATF 41F, the new rule affecting ATF applications, went into effect on July 13, 2016. The federal regulation appears to conflict with a Florida statute. The rule sets forth new administrative requirements for applicants. The new rule also regulates what’s required of Chief Law Enforcement Officers (CLEOs) in the application process.
Potential Conflict Between ATF 41F and Florida Gun Law
ATF applicants must provide a background check for all ‘responsible persons’ associated with the application; this must include photographs and fingerprints. The applicant must notify their local CLEO by supplying documentation. No CLEO sign-off is required. The applicant simply completes the respective ATF form affirming that they have notified their CLEO.
Florida Statute 790.335 provides that no state or local government agent or agency, official, or government entity (public or private) is lawfully permitted to maintain records or lists of firearms owners. CLEOs who receive ATF application notification are not required to sign-off—or take any action, for that matter—upon receipt of these documents. How are CLEOs in Florida recording that a notification occurred?
Hypothetically, if a CLEO begins maintaining a database or other recording system for notifications, they would be in violation of Florida law. In addition to potentially being charged with a third-degree felony and a fine (capped at $5 million), Florida Statute 790.335 provides that “law-abiding firearm owners whose names have been illegally recorded in a list, record, or registry are entitled to redress.”
There are, of course, exceptions to the statute. Firearms associated with crimes, records of convicted criminals, and certain stolen weapons may be recorded in lists. Federal firearms dealers are permitted to maintain records and provide to law enforcement as per federal law, however the statute expressly states:
…no state governmental agency or local government, special district, or other political subdivision or official, agent, or employee of such state or other governmental entity or any other person, private or public, shall accumulate, compile, computerize, or otherwise collect or convert such written records into any form of list, registry, or database for any purpose.
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