The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), as amended (18 U.S.C. Chapter 44), requires licensed importers and licensed manufacturers to identify, by means of a serial number, each firearm imported or manufactured. The serial number must be engraved, cast, or stamped on the receiver or frame of the weapon in such manner as the Secretary of the Treasury prescribes by regulation.
Section 178.92 also requires licensed importers and manufacturers to conspicuously place the following identification markings on the frame, receiver, or barrel of each firearm imported or manufactured in a manner not susceptible of being readily obliterated, altered, or removed:
1. The model, if such designation has been made;
2. The caliber or gauge;
3. The name (or recognized abbreviation of same) of the manufacturer and also, when applicable, of the importer;
4. In the case of a domestically made firearm, the city and State (or recognized abbreviation thereof) where the licensed manufacturer maintains its place of business; and
5. In the case of an imported firearm, the name of the country in which manufactured and the city and State (or recognized abbreviation thereof) where the importer maintains its place of business.
In 1999, ATF Notice No. 877 proposed a minimum depth of .005 inch for serial numbers and a minimum depth of .005 inch for all other required markings. Further, they requested comments on the proposed regulations from all interested persons. In particular, we are soliciting input from the industry as to whether a minimum depth of .007 inch, rather than the .005 inch proposed in this notice, is feasible using existing machinery or if additional costs would be incurred to comply with such a minimum depth.
27 CFR Part 478 specifies the FFL (Federal firearms licensee) records and maintains the acquisition and disposition of firearms in what is commonly referred to as a Bound book. Subsequently, the ATF has recognized good cause exists for authorizing the use of computers and portable storage devices to maintain the records of acquisition and disposition of firearms required by 27 CFR Part 478. The use of computers and portable storage devices to maintain required acquisition and disposition records, contingent upon the requirements outlined in the approved variance, is consistent with the intent of the GCA, as it will result in a permanent, reliable record that will accurately indicate acquisitions and dispositions of firearms and armor piercing ammunition. Allowing flexibility through variances permitting the downloading and maintenance of records on portable storage devices will increase the effective administration of the GCA by ATF.