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  #1  
Old 05-01-2013, 10:02 AM
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Default FFL number disclosure

I have a quick question to you folks in the FFL community. I'm a California resident. I'm trying to transfer in a new rifle to be purchased from an out of state FFL. I've asked a local FFL for his FFL license number... or at least the first three and last 5 digits so I can verify it. He refuses to give it to me, saying he will only disclose it to another FFL.

The firearm (a bolt-action, California legal long gun) is worth several thousand dollars. Before I trust the California agent with it, I'd at least like to verify his license. I've dealt with quite a few FFL holders over the years, including out-of-state gunsmiths. None have refused to give me their license number. Most will willingly fax a copy of the license itself.

My question is, has the firearms universe changed so much recently that this is typical? Is there some rationale to justify not disclosing your FFL number?
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Old 05-01-2013, 11:26 AM
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I have no problem giving out the first 3 and last 5 digits of my license. I don't think there would even be a problem giving out the whole number. The ATF's preferred method of license verification is FFL-EZ Check anyways, which requires those numbers. I would find a different FFL.

Now, faxing over the image of my license to a non-licensee is a different matter. There's the chance that they can try to use that copy to purchase a firearm.

My .02
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  #3  
Old 05-01-2013, 11:35 AM
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The BATF tells FFLs to not give out a copy of their FFL to non-licensees. Some still do, but it is just not a good idea due to possible abuse. Some even post their FFL on web pages.

There really isn't an issue since the selling FFL has to get a copy of the FFL before shipping, so you know that there is no issue with the receiving FFL in terms of their license.

Home-based FFLs might be less likely to give out any information until the firearm arrives since you never know who you are dealing with. How does the FFL know that you are not just trying to get information from him in order to do something bad? It goes both ways.

To give you an example of why a FFL might not want to give out information is that I recently had an issue where a seller (non-FFL) claimed to ship a firearm through a FFL, but that was not the case and it was a problem since there was no CFLC letter. Even with the numbers for the BATF ezcheck web page is enough for a person to send it.
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Old 05-01-2013, 11:46 AM
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since the FFLs info is public data and can be freely looked up on the ATF website, I don't see the benefit in the FFL withholding the 3+5 digits when I can get the entire 15-digit number in just a couple minutes.
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Old 05-01-2013, 12:11 PM
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Yes, if you know the name and know where to look, you can find it, but that does not mean you want to make it easy.

In the example I gave, if I had not required a copy of the ID before giving my address, I might not have ever received it.
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Old 05-01-2013, 2:01 PM
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http://www.atf.gov/about/foia/ffl-list.html
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Old 05-01-2013, 10:42 PM
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Thanks everyone. UPS, by the way, requires an actual copy of the receiving dealer's FFL when a non-dealer sends a firearm to an FFL. This may not be a nation-wide policy, but it is definitely the case at the main Los Angeles service center. Until now, I've never had a dealer refuse to fax me a copy of their FFL, though they do usually mark them with "File Copy" or something similar.
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Old 05-02-2013, 4:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popawoody View Post
Thanks everyone. UPS, by the way, requires an actual copy of the receiving dealer's FFL when a non-dealer sends a firearm to an FFL. This may not be a nation-wide policy, but it is definitely the case at the main Los Angeles service center. Until now, I've never had a dealer refuse to fax me a copy of their FFL, though they do usually mark them with "File Copy" or something similar.
I guess each UPS station can be different,my local one in Newbury Park
has been taking EZ check info for a few years now with no hassle,even
sending handguns.Pete
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Old 05-02-2013, 5:06 AM
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You can use http://www.gunetools.com to look up the first three last five digits and there is a link supplied to do the FFL eZ check too.

The db is current up to Dec last year.
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Old 05-02-2013, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GM4spd View Post
I guess each UPS station can be different,my local one in Newbury Park
has been taking EZ check info for a few years now with no hassle,even
sending handguns.Pete
I suspect this is a fairly new policy and you're right, it seems to be imposed on a station-by-station basis. There's no mention of it on the UPS: Shipping Firearms page.

Despite this, I was turned away when shipping a handgun to an out-of-state gunsmith last month because I didn't have a "physical copy of the receiving dealer's FFL". I had the number, mind you. The gunsmith was happy to fax me a copy, marked "File Copy Only".

When I complained at UPS, saying the requirement was not mentioned in the official UPS guidelines, I was told it was a policy imposed by "UPS Security".

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Old 05-02-2013, 10:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tenpercentfirearms View Post
This certainly puts and end to the "Is it public record?" question. Thanks!
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Old 05-02-2013, 11:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popawoody View Post
Thanks everyone. UPS, by the way, requires an actual copy of the receiving dealer's FFL when a non-dealer sends a firearm to an FFL. This may not be a nation-wide policy, but it is definitely the case at the main Los Angeles service center. Until now, I've never had a dealer refuse to fax me a copy of their FFL, though they do usually mark them with "File Copy" or something similar.
A UPS facility in Florida had that policy, until I called Corp. and they got educated. They are making up the policy, which UPS does not allow them to do. This can also create an issue for them since then if there is any abuse with the FFL, they could be blamed, which UPS Corp. does not want.
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Old 05-02-2013, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popawoody View Post
This certainly puts and end to the "Is it public record?" question. Thanks!
The problem is the FOIA is not kept up to date, so it is really not accurate as the FFL could have had their FFL revoked and the FOIA will not show that for around a month or so.
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Old 05-02-2013, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popawoody View Post
I suspect this is a fairly new policy and you're right, it seems to be imposed on a station-by-station basis. There's no mention of it on the UPS: Shipping Firearms page.
It is not a new policy, it is just made up by the facility and so it can be pushed with Corp., as I did before.

Quote:
Despite this, I was turned away when shipping a handgun to an out-of-state gunsmith last month because I didn't have a "physical copy of the receiving dealer's FFL". I had the number, mind you. The gunsmith was happy to fax me a copy, marked "File Copy Only".
That is the gunsmith's choice, but it is not required and it is suggested to not do that.

Quote:
When I complained at UPS, saying the requirement was not mentioned in the official UPS guidelines, I was told it was a policy imposed by "UPS Security".
That is a nice answer, but then there would be something printed which they could present and I am willing to bet that they can't or won't do that and if they do, it will only be a local memo.
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Old 05-02-2013, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kemasa View Post
The problem is the FOIA is not kept up to date, so it is really not accurate as the FFL could have had their FFL revoked and the FOIA will not show that for around a month or so.
right, but you can certainly take the FFL# and run it through ez-check to get a current staus of the FFL that way.
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Old 05-02-2013, 12:29 PM
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right, but you can certainly take the FFL# and run it through ez-check to get a current staus of the FFL that way.
That is true.
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Old 05-02-2013, 8:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kemasa View Post
It is not a new policy, it is just made up by the facility and so it can be pushed with Corp., as I did before.

That is the gunsmith's choice, but it is not required and it is suggested to not do that.

That is a nice answer, but then there would be something printed which they could present and I am willing to bet that they can't or won't do that and if they do, it will only be a local memo.
Good information. Thanks!

I started this thread because, in looking for a local FFL to handle the transfer of an inbound long gun, I ran into a guy who went completely off the rails when I asked him for his FFL number. Not a copy of the FFL. Just the number. I even said I'd be OK with the 3+5 for EZ-Check. He claimed it was none of my business and that it isn't public record and that I'd never find it.

It was really very odd. Just a wide-eyed, crazy response to what I thought was a reasonable request. You'd think I ran over his cat. It turns out he's only had his FFL for a bit over a year. I'm not sure he has the right temperament for the job. The fiasco did have the benefit of letting me know he isn't someone I need to deal with. I was looking for someone to entrust a very expensive rifle with. I figure the first step is being able to have a rational conversation.

I very much appreciate everyone's input here. It can't be easy being an FFL these days. You guys have been terrific in helping me understand the issue. And you've also led me to pencil in "Call UPS" on my calendar for tomorrow. I have another pistol to ship. I'll see if I can get the LA UPS facility to get with the program.
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Old 05-02-2013, 8:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kemasa View Post
A UPS facility in Florida had that policy, until I called Corp. and they got educated. They are making up the policy, which UPS does not allow them to do. This can also create an issue for them since then if there is any abuse with the FFL, they could be blamed, which UPS Corp. does not want.
By the way... do you recall what department you contacted at UPS corporate?
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Old 05-03-2013, 9:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popawoody View Post
I started this thread because, in looking for a local FFL to handle the transfer of an inbound long gun, I ran into a guy who went completely off the rails when I asked him for his FFL number. Not a copy of the FFL. Just the number. I even said I'd be OK with the 3+5 for EZ-Check. He claimed it was none of my business and that it isn't public record and that I'd never find it.
Each side has their own view of what occurred, but there is really no reason for the FFL to give you the information. As I said, the shipper should confirm the status of the FFL, but a customer does not need to. If the shipper is a FFL, they also have to get the CFLC letter, which ensures that the CA FFL has all the required permits/licenses.

Quote:
It was really very odd. Just a wide-eyed, crazy response to what I thought was a reasonable request. You'd think I ran over his cat. It turns out he's only had his FFL for a bit over a year. I'm not sure he has the right temperament for the job. The fiasco did have the benefit of letting me know he isn't someone I need to deal with. I was looking for someone to entrust a very expensive rifle with. I figure the first step is being able to have a rational conversation.
Well, what you think is a reasonable request, a FFL might not. I wouldn't give you the information either. Yes, it can be found, the same as the name of your spouse and children, but that does not mean I want to make it easy and give it out.

Perhaps I am reading between the lines too much, but your comments regarding "entrust a very expensive rifle" indicates that perhaps you were attempting to check into the person too much. I had a customer who was unreasonable in that regards and I had to tell him to find someone else. For you, it is a big deal, but for the FFL it is just another firearm and most likely not the most expensive firearm they have dealt with.

Perhaps your first step of interrogating the FFL did not go over well. Yes, I know you don't think that is what you were doing, but remember it can be viewed differently. For example, if you asked for a copy of the FFL first, then asked for the FFL number, that might also be denied because it seems like you are trying to get too much information. Realize that the "customer" might not really be a customer, but instead be a criminal.

Quote:
I very much appreciate everyone's input here. It can't be easy being an FFL these days. You guys have been terrific in helping me understand the issue. And you've also led me to pencil in "Call UPS" on my calendar for tomorrow. I have another pistol to ship. I'll see if I can get the LA UPS facility to get with the program.
In some cases it can be cheaper to ship a handgun through a FFL since a FFL can ship it USPS, so if the fee is low enough, it can be cheaper than having to ship it overnight by UPS/FedEx.

Quote:
Originally Posted by popawoody View Post
By the way... do you recall what department you contacted at UPS corporate?
I got transferred I think. i called the 800 number and was transferred to a customer service person who knew what he was doing and called the facility a couple of times to get it dealt with. The person shipping was just about fed up and was about to give up, but it worked out.
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Old 05-04-2013, 2:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kemasa View Post
Each side has their own view of what occurred, but there is really no reason for the FFL to give you the information...

Well, what you think is a reasonable request, a FFL might not. I wouldn't give you the information either...

Perhaps I am reading between the lines too much, but your comments regarding "entrust a very expensive rifle" indicates that perhaps you were attempting to check into the person too much.
Interesting. As it turns out, all I was trying to do was to 1) find out if the guy actually had an FFL and 2) determine if he was someone I wanted to deal with. I simply asked him to provide with his FFL number or the first three and last five.

The fact is, I take responsibility for any transaction I undertake. The fact that it's a firearm transaction makes me more responsible, not less. I verified the legitimacy of the seller I was sending several thousand dollars to. He was fine with me calling him and having a chat before I sent him a big cashier's check. He willingly gave me his FFL number and the serial number of the rifle.

I consider it my responsibility to make sure the agent I'm using on the receiving end is legitimate and is someone I care to do business with. The guy I used to use was terrific. Sadly, he was run out of business by the anti-gun politicians in the city here. So I was looking for a new FFL.

This guy not only refused to disclose any part of his FFL number, but went absolutely out of his mind about it. That's his right. Its his business and he can run it any way he likes. It's also my right not to do business with him.

The FFL I eventually chose to use has been in business as an FFL for decades and is a genuinely nice, sane guy. He sent his FFL number in an email before I ever asked for it.

Again, I believe that being an FFL these days has to be difficult. To my way of thinking, though, today's political climate requires all of us who believe in the 2nd amendment to be more sane and level-headed, not less. This particular license holder isn't doing any of us any favors. He just comes off like a wild-eyed maniac.
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Old 05-04-2013, 6:56 PM
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You really want me to believe that you were perfect and the complete fault was with the FFL? You know how many times people want to claim that, but the reality is something different?

It is unusual to have a customer to want to have a "chat" before buying a firearm. Most customers are just interested in the firearm. Your statements also said that you wanted to check out the FFL to ensure yourself that you could trust him, which is also unusual.

The shipping FFL is going to ensure that the CA FFL is legitimate due to the CFLC process and requiring a copy of the FFL, so that is not really your job, but it shows that you are doing such things and that can cause a reaction.
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Old 05-04-2013, 9:00 PM
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Thanks Kemasa...

Last edited by Boogaloo; 05-05-2013 at 2:31 PM..
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Old 05-05-2013, 2:31 PM
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Actually, we'll get this right out in the open since there are a myriad of lies and twists of logic going on with "pop a woody's" claims and assertions here. I just simply can't turn the other cheek on this one.

The chronology of events:

(1) April 30th 2013, 1331 hours.
"popawoody" calls my number requesting me to be the receiving FFL for a long gun.

(2) April 30th 2013, 1745 hours.
I return "popawoody's" phone call and advise him of my policies which include a visit to my website to read and return (via email) a copy of a .pdf which outlines my policies.

(3) April 30th 2013, 1856 hours.
"popawoody" calls and leaves his 2nd voice mail on my phone SPECIFICALLY REQESTING that I fax a copy of my FFL to "the fax number contained in his email, which included the .pdf I require". He went on to indicate (verbally) that he did not feel he needed to provide me with proof of residency, and asked why I required such a thing.

(4) April 30th 2013, 2055 hours.
I email "popawoody" with the following (quoted directly from the email I sent):

"Hi (popawoody)

I do not give copies of my FFL to customers. I will send it to your seller AFTER I have verified that they are a legitimate FFL (verified through FFL EZCHeck).

I will be available after 10AM tomorrow morning.

Thanks!"


(5) April 30th 2013, 2126 hours.
"popawoody" replies via email:

I understand the primary proof of residency requirement for all firearms transactions. My Drivers License address is correct. What I was inquiring about in my phone message is the secondary proof requirement imposed on handgun purchases. In the past that's been something like a utility bill. Since I just paid and shredded my last utility bill, I would need to get another copy from SCE if that's required. I don't believe it is required for a long gun however. If I'm wrong about that, please let me know.

I don't need your actual FFL (though you should know that UPS will require an actual copy of it on any firearm shipped to you via UPS.) I do need at least the first three and last five digits of your FFL though.

Thanks,
("popawoody").


I will admit here and now, that in the heat of the moment, I indicated (email) that he needed a secondary proof of residency for a long gun purchase which was wrong (as long as his drivers license had his current address on it), but that was AFTER he demanded a hard copy of my FFL. What I meant to say was that if his drivers license did not have his current address on it, he would then need proof of residency. Clearly my mistake.


By then, (as Kemasa so eloquently pointed out), the damage was done, and my "something is not quite right here" radar was glowing red.
This "customer" had already indicated he REQUIRED a copy of my FFL to be faxed to him. He basically went ballistic after I (politely) told him that was not going to happen . Then he questions me (via email) on the proof of residency requirements of transferring a firearm legally in California. Then he proceeds to "educate" me on the nuances of UPS and their policies regarding firearms shipments. My first thought was that he should actually just go through the motions and become an FFL since HE is the expert. Right? I mean, here is some random guy, trying to tell ME, how to run my firearms business?

Aside from that, I was already on guard based on the first few volleys of communication. Really, at that point, I thought... I could be being tested by someone from the ATF of DOJ, or this guy is really high on himself, and I need to be careful. None the less, the warning signs were there, so I was exceedingly cautious..

I really did not want to "volunteer" anything to this guy, I wanted to play it safe, so admittedly, I refused to give him the first 3 and last 5 of my FFL after his first meltdown. Instead, I respectfully advised him that I would deal directly with his seller, since he really had no valid reason to have my FFL. Here it is, (quoted directly from my email to him):

"My policy is to work directly with the sending FFL. I require the first 3 and last 5 digits of their FFL so I can verify them directly. I will provide them with my numbers so they can do the same. After I have verified they are a legitimate FFL, I will send them the required documents so they can proceed with the transfer legally. The best way to get that process started is for you to provide me with their contact information via email.

I am aware that my policies may seem a bit different when compared to some of the other FFL's you have worked with in the past, however, they are non negotiable. I will understand if you decide to take your business elsewhere as a result. Respectfully, (my name here)".


This ^^ was in response to an email from him where he stated that "in 4 decades of dealing with FFL's not one of them has ever refused to send him a copy of their FFL". He went on to say that he had copies from other FFL's sitting on his desk. I replied (again) stating that I have my policies, and I that don't change them for anyone.

At this point, he pretty much completely lost his mind. In his subsequent emails, he started dropping names, accomplishments, the cost of his rifle, the kind of glass he uses, his associations with other FFL's, gunsmiths etc. He really wanted me to be impressed with HIM. Problem is, I was not. I was on guard. Overly cautious? Perhaps .... A little.... But I sell firearms... Not Sham-Wow's.

Admittedly, I should have sent him to the spam filter and just ignored him, but I actually thought it quite funny that he just could not grasp the fact that I was the FFL, he wasn't. Nor could he wrap his head around the fact that I have policies and procedures that, whether he liked them or not, were (as I indicated), NON NEGOTIABLE.

What followed that was a 3 day exchange of emails between us, where he just could not let it go and walk away. It was clear that he had been fired, yet, he just wanted to try and "educate" me on the intricacies of being an FFL in California. He insulted me, pasted my complete FFL number, address, name etc. directly from the ATF website in an email to me, and tried to belittle me with whatever attack on my (and my customers) character(s) he could come up with.


Ultimately, I sent an email to "pop a woody" stating the following (quoted directly from my email to him. This was the sum of the email):

"Mr. Pop a Woody".
I do not give my firearms license numbers to anyone who is not an FFL. I'm Sorry if that rubs you the wrong way.

At this point, I think it is probably better for you to engage another business. Sometimes certain clients and vendors are just not a good match for each other. I think this is probably one of those times.

Respectfully,"


This did not stop the guy however. I mean it was painfully obvious I was not going to yield to HIS will. I was bowing out of the deal respectfully. I had not been rude, nor did I invite confrontation. I was simply trying to bow out.

He continued with emails challenging my character, and attempting to goad me into further debate... which I did succumb to unfortunately. I continued to engage him when I should have just blocked him and walked away.... My bad.

What I ultimately called him on, and what I found most intriguing, was that he so easily found the information (my FFL) that he was demanding from me. He had already posted my FFL number in an email he sent me, yet he still wanted to pursue this heated email exchange, as if he were teaching me some kind of lesson? I specifically asked him about that, yet I received no reply to that challenge. That is when I knew I was dealing with a guy who's ego precedes him when he walks into a room. And when I knew "this" needed to stop.

I will admit that I allowed it to go on for far too long. If I thought the guy was a threat in the beginning, I would have just called up one of my buddy's who is a detective in the city he lives in and turned it over. But I did not feel the need at that point. I was actually having a good laugh at this...

In the end, I politely asked him to stop contacting me, as I felt like his emails were becoming a bit harassing, to which he replied:

"If you believe I'm harassing you, I encourage you to take this email thread to small claims court." (quoted from his 2nd to last email to me).

At that point, the student (in his mind, me) became the teacher, I politely told him the order in which I would file my "complaint". He seemed to get the picture. I thought that was the end of it actually, yet that is when he obviously decided to come in here and make a public debate out of it. Go figure?

My point to all of this is, that this guy really likes to hear and see himself talk. It (obviously) wasn't enough to do "e-battle" for 3 days straight over my not faxing him a signed copy of my FFL. He felt the need to come in here and start it all over again. I ask why? I can only conclude that his hopes are that one of you (FFL's) are going to rubber stamp his B.S. ??? Perhaps some kind of public validation will boost his ego? I don't know.... Whatever.

Hopefully that gives you a little insight into this fellows character. I just figured you would like to hear my (the FFL) side of the story. I am sure YOU all have had "that guy" in your presence at one time or another. "pop a woody" is definitely "that guy" for me as an FFL. Oh well....

If any of you (FFL's in the Los Angeles/South Bay area) want specific "details".., ping me via PM and I will happily fill you in. You can't be too careful these days.


P.S. I am a reasonable guy. If this "customer" had asked me for the first 3 and last 5 of my FFL up front, I would have happily given it to him. I do believe however that I would have still fired the guy. He would have shown this side of himself prior to the deal going down. Guys like this just can't check their egos at the door.

P.S.S. I will post up a recording of the voicemail (in a heartbeat) where he clearly stated he had to have a copy of my FFL faxed to a specific number. This was the FIRST communication I received from the guy (after the initial inquiry). What this should tell you ALL, is this guy is a liar. He DID NOT just ask for the first 3 and last 5. I don't know about you, but if he lies about this in public forum to pump his ego, what do you suppose he will do to secure a firearm? Do you (any of you) really want to deal with these types of customers? I suspect not.

Boogaloo Tactical
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  #24  
Old 05-06-2013, 8:10 AM
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PolishMike PolishMike is offline
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Lol, love it!
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  #25  
Old 05-06-2013, 11:13 PM
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I am amazed at ur patience.
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  #26  
Old 05-23-2013, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popawoody View Post
I have a quick question to you folks in the FFL community. I'm a California resident. I'm trying to transfer in a new rifle to be purchased from an out of state FFL. I've asked a local FFL for his FFL license number... or at least the first three and last 5 digits so I can verify it. He refuses to give it to me, saying he will only disclose it to another FFL.

The firearm (a bolt-action, California legal long gun) is worth several thousand dollars. Before I trust the California agent with it, I'd at least like to verify his license. I've dealt with quite a few FFL holders over the years, including out-of-state gunsmiths. None have refused to give me their license number. Most will willingly fax a copy of the license itself.

My question is, has the firearms universe changed so much recently that this is typical? Is there some rationale to justify not disclosing your FFL number?
Must suck when ya post in here all full of yourself, thinking you know it all, and make yourself look stupid in one fell swoop.

See ffl's post below.




Quote:
Originally Posted by kemasa View Post
You really want me to believe that you were perfect and the complete fault was with the FFL? You know how many times people want to claim that, but the reality is something different?

It is unusual to have a customer to want to have a "chat" before buying a firearm. Most customers are just interested in the firearm. Your statements also said that you wanted to check out the FFL to ensure yourself that you could trust him, which is also unusual.

The shipping FFL is going to ensure that the CA FFL is legitimate due to the CFLC process and requiring a copy of the FFL, so that is not really your job, but it shows that you are doing such things and that can cause a reaction.
I like your style...

-hanko
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Originally Posted By System Message:
Why can't you guys participate in a simple discussion about some guy's mom making a porno without violating the COC? This is why we can't have nice things.



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