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Disaster Preparedness for FFL Retailers

March 10, 2021

As we approach severe weather season for many regions throughout the United States, it is imperative that FFL retailers put a plan in place in case of a man-made or natural disaster. The experts at Gearfire are here to help your business prepare.

Please follow the link below to access and download Gearfire’s FREE Pre and Post Disaster Tracking Tool Kit.

Should your business face a disaster, follow Federal, State and local authority’s guidance and safety recommendations. The safety of employees and/or first responders in the area post-disaster should always be your first priority.

Prepare your Business with the Right Technology

Before disaster strikes, consider implementing technology that keeps your business, inventory and compliance safe. Shooting Sports retailers with a brick and mortar storefront would benefit greatly from AXIS Point Of Sale software for its electronic document functionality and storage.

  • the only ATF Approved electronic storage of Form 4473
  • built-in ATF Compliant eBound Book, eNICS, e4473 and more
  • inventory tracking and auditing for single or multi-store operations
  • trusted by 70% of NSSF 5-Star Ranges

ATF Issued Guidance

Per ATF Publication 3317.7, it is recommended that all FFLs have a Disaster Preparedness Plan. If your business is affected by a disaster, stay on top of any ATF Issued Guidance.

Firearm Inventory

Close out and record any pending acquisitions or dispositions into your Bound Book.

  • Log shipments, receipts, newly manufactured firearms, etc.
  • Assure your Bound Book reflects complete and accurate documentation of all firearms on premises.

A&D / Bound Book

If a disaster is imminent, contact ATF to seek approval to remove all business records to a safe location. It is suggested that copies of all paper Bound Books be provided to at least one responsible person for the FFL. It is also recommended that copies of all open dispositions be provided.

Per ATF Ruling 2016-1, all FFLs must maintain a digital copy of Bound Books. In addition to ATF Ruling requirements, it is recommended at least one responsible person for the FFL be provided a complete, up to date copy of all Bound Books for retrieval offsite.

Firearm Records

In preparation for a disaster, create a Record Location Log with a complete list of all stored, regulated documents (ATF Forms 4473, 3310.6, etc.).

  • Include the number of boxes and the dates of records they contain if possible.
  • Save digital images and documents in a water/fire safe container for retrieval offsite.
  • If a disaster is imminent, contact ATF to seek approval to remove all business records to a safe location.
  • Store all firearm records in an elevated area so they are unlikely to become wet in instances of flooding.


Secure all firearms on premises in a vault or safe if available. If firearms cannot be stored in a vault or safe, store firearms in the most secure area of premises, and consider adding additional protections such as locks and reinforcements.

If boarding windows and doors is necessary to prepare for a disaster, assure boarding does not damage or render security system features inactive. Determine if your security system has a backup battery and/or backup cell line.

  • How long can you expect the battery to keep the system operational, and at what level?
  • Can you remotely monitor your system if it is operating on backup cell service?

Always remember, if cellular services are offline for any reason, your alarm system will no longer be capable of sending alert signals to you or authorities. Speak with your security system monitoring provider and ask how they will be responding during potential disaster.

  • How will calls be answered?
  • How will authorities be notified?
  • Will authorities always be notified of alarms?
  • Will the life of a backup battery be monitored if in use?
  • Will backup batteries be replaced if exhausted?  Are there additional fees?
  • How will the provider notify your business’s point of contact if the system is offline and/or an alarm is tripped?
  • Provide contact information, including a landline number for your business’s point of contact.

Call Tree

Before disaster strikes, create a Call Tree to notify all relevant employees, vendors, and security providers of your business operations status, and any potential security or structural issues. Be sure to include landline numbers in case of cell outages. Pre-arrange specific times and dates for group status updates and check-ins, and distribute to all necessary participants. This provides relevant persons with a known time and means to communicate, should other means of communication become impaired.

Notify Local Authorities

Contact your local Police (or Sheriff’s Department) and Local ATF Industry Operations regarding your business’s disaster preparedness, and the number and types of firearms on premises prior to evacuating.  Request specific contact information for person(s) that may assist FFLs if an incident should occur, and provide contact information for a responsible person for your FFL, including a landline number.

Notify ATF National Tracing Center

Contact ATF National Tracing Center regarding your business operations status and/or any temporary relocation, and provide contact information, including landline number, for an FFL responsible person.

Relevant Links and Information

ATF Field Offices

Download ATF Publication 3317.7

Download ATF Form 3310.11 – Firearm Theft/Loss Report

ATF National Tracing Center – (800) 788-7133

Local Law Enforcement Contact Information

ATF Enforcement Programs and Services
99 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20226
(202) 648-7080

Please follow the link below to access and download Gearfire’s FREE Pre and Post Disaster Tracking Tool Kit.