Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms:

Few Firearms Licensees Had Complaints About Inspections

GGD-93-11BR: Published: Oct 22, 1992. Publicly Released: Oct 22, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms' (ATF) inspections of federally licensed firearms dealers and pawnbrokers, focusing on: (1) licensees' problems with ATF inspections; (2) licensees' formal complaints to ATF regarding inspections; (3) ATF responses to licensees' complaints; and (4) ATF administration of its regulatory responsibilities.

GAO found that: (1) in 1992, the number of federal firearms licensees totalled over 281,000, and the number of fiscal year 1991 compliance inspections totalled 8,258; (2) ATF lacks a system for recording licensee inspection complaints and area offices lack guidelines for responding to complaints; (3) because of the low number of complaints, ATF officials can handle inspection complaints on a case-by-case basis; (4) of the 283 surveyed ATF-inspected licensees, 26 reported having inspection problems; (5) ATF inspectors resolved 15 of the 26 inspection problems and, out of the remaining 11 problems, considered that it handled 10 very fairly; and (6) 76 percent of licensees believe that ATF carries out its regulatory responsibilities very well, 17 percent believe that ATF is adequate, and 7 percent believe that ATF performance is marginal or inadequate.

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