DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY



Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms



27 CFR Part 178



[T.D. ATF-402; Ref: Notice No. 855]

RIN 1512-AB68



 

Posting of Signs and Written Notification to Purchasers of 

Handguns



AGENCY: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Department of 

the Treasury.



ACTION: Final rule.



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SUMMARY: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is amending 

the firearms regulations to require that signs be posted on the 

premises of Federal firearms licensees and that written notification be 

issued with each handgun sold advising of the provisions of the Youth 

Handgun Safety Act.



EFFECTIVE DATE: September 11, 1998.



FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marsha D. Baker, Regulations Division, 

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Washington, DC 20226 (202-927-

8210).



SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:



Background



    The Youth Handgun Safety Act (YHSA), 18 U.S.C. 922(x), generally 

makes it unlawful for a person to transfer a handgun to anyone under 18 

years of age or for anyone under 18 years of age to knowingly possess a 

handgun. Certain exceptions are set forth in the statute.

    In enacting the YHSA in 1994, Congress found that criminal misuse 

of firearms often starts with the easy availability of guns to juvenile 

gang members. In addition, Congress found that individual States and 

localities may find it difficult to control this problem by themselves. 

Therefore, Congress found it necessary and appropriate to assist the 

States in controlling violent crime by stopping the commerce in 

handguns with juveniles nationwide and allowing the possession of 

handguns by juveniles only when handguns are possessed and used under 

certain limited circumstances.

    In a memorandum to the Secretary of the Treasury dated June 11, 

1997, the President stated that a major problem in our nation is the 

ease with which young people gain illegal access to guns. The President 

observed that firearms are now responsible for 12 percent of fatalities 

among American children and teenagers.

    The President's memorandum directed the Secretary of the Treasury 

to propose regulations that would require the posting of signs and 

issuance of written notices warning handgun purchasers of the 

provisions of the YHSA.



Notice of Proposed Rulemaking



    In response to the concerns raised by the President's memorandum, 

ATF published Notice No. 855 in the Federal Register (62 FR 45364) on 

August 27, 1997. To enforce the provisions of the YHSA and to ensure 

that handgun purchasers are familiar with its provisions, the Notice of 

Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposed regulations requiring that signs be 

posted on the premises of Federal firearms licensees and that written 

notification be issued by licensees to nonlicensed handgun purchasers 

warning as follows:



    (1) Federal law prohibits, except in certain limited 

circumstances, anyone under 18 years of age from knowingly 

possessing a handgun, or any person from transferring a handgun to a 

person under 18;

    (2) A violation of the prohibition against transferring a 

handgun to a person under the age of 18 is, under certain 

circumstances, punishable by up to 10 years in prison;

    (3) Handguns are a leading contributor to juvenile violence and 

fatalities; and

    (4) Safely storing and locking handguns away from children can 

help ensure compliance with Federal law.



    The proposed rule stipulated that signs provided by ATF must be 

posted by licensed importers, manufacturers and dealers on their 

licensed premises where prospective handgun purchasers can readily see 

them. In addition, the written notification to be issued to each 

handgun purchaser must be made available either by providing the 

purchaser with an ATF Publication or some other type of written 

notification that contains the same language, e.g., a manufacturer's or 

importer's instruction manual or brochure provided to the handgun 

purchaser.



Analysis of Comments



    ATF received sixty-two (62) comments during the comment period in 

response to Notice No. 855. These comments were received from fifty-

three (53) members of the public, one (1) Member of Congress, four (4) 

Federal firearms licensees (FFLs), and four (4) firearms industry 

organizations. Five (5) of the respondents were in agreement with the 

proposed regulations. Fifty-seven (57) respondents opposed certain 

provisions of the proposed regulations.



Comments in Support of the Proposed Rule



    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) commented in favor of the 

proposed regulations. The AAP stated that ``Firearms play a major role 

in childhood morbidity and mortality in the United States.'' They went 

on to comment that ``the surest way to reduce the effects of firearm-

trauma on children is to remove handguns from the environments in which 

children live and play.'' The Academy also supported the inclusion of 

curios and relics in the proposed rule as well as the notification at 

the time that weapons are returned to their owners by an FFL (for 

example, when a firearm is redeemed from pawn).

    Handgun Control Inc. (HCI) also commented in support of the 

proposed regulations. They agreed that ATF had the authority to issue 

regulations necessary to implement the Gun Control Act (GCA). They 

stated that ``notification to handgun buyers at the point of purchase 

of the need to safely secure handguns away from children is certainly 

necessary to implement the provisions of the statute.''

    HCI suggested that the written notice provided to the purchasers of 

handguns not be included as part of a larger Federal form, but should 

instead be separately contained in one publication. In response to this 

comment, it should be noted that the NPRM did not specify the 

publication number of the proposed required written notice since one 

had not yet been assigned. However, the final rule clarifies that the 

written notice will appear on an ATF publication (ATF I 5300.2) that is 

separate from any existing ATF form.

    Seven (7) additional respondents agreed with the general purpose of 

the proposed regulations; to reduce the ease with which juveniles have 

access to handguns which are then used to commit crimes or which result 

in youth fatalities. However, they were opposed to the wording of the 

provisions outlined in the proposed rule. Rephrasing of the provisional 

language and certain deletions were suggested.

    For example, Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc., a manufacturer of 

firearms, commented that ``while we have no objection to reminding 

dealers of their serious responsibilities regarding sales of firearms 

to unauthorized persons, the proposed language goes far beyond that.'' 

Accordingly, they suggested several revisions of the proposed 

regulations. The suggested revisions to the language of the notice and 

sign will be discussed in detail below.



[[Page 37741]]



Comments in Opposition to the Proposed Rule



    Several commenters challenged ATF's authority under the GCA to 

require any sort of warning or notification to purchasers of handguns 

regarding the requirements of the YHSA. A comment from Rep. John 

Dingell urged ATF to withdraw the proposed rule for several reasons, 

including his view that the statutory basis for ATF's action is 

``uncertain.'' He noted that ATF has not required notices or signs to 

warn purchasers about other GCA provisions and the statutory 

prohibitions on the possession of firearms by certain categories of 

people, including felons.

    ATF does not agree that requiring licensees to inform prospective 

handgun purchasers about the requirements of the law goes beyond its 

authority to enforce the GCA. Furthermore, this type of requirement is 

not unprecedented. While ATF has not required licensees to post signs 

or hand out notices regarding other GCA provisions, many of these 

provisions are made known to purchasers through other means. For 

example, licensees are required to have unlicensed purchasers complete 

an ATF Form 4473, Firearms Transaction Record. On this form, purchasers 

certify that they do not fall within one of the categories of persons 

prohibited from purchasing a firearm. The Form 4473 contains a detailed 

explanation of various GCA provisions.

    ATF believes that it is important to advise handgun purchasers of 

the still relatively new requirements of the YHSA to ensure that adult 

purchasers who are purchasing a handgun from a licensee are made aware 

that it is unlawful to transfer handguns to juveniles. This statutory 

provision is not addressed on the Form 4473. ATF believes that the 

final rule will accomplish the goal of preventing inadvertent 

violations of the law without unduly burdening licensees or handgun 

purchasers. Furthermore, ATF's statutory authority to issue regulations 

to implement the GCA is clear. See 18 U.S.C. 926(a).



Revisions Made in Response to Comments



    After carefully considering the comments received following the 

publication of the NPRM, ATF has decided that certain revisions should 

be made to the written notification and sign required by the 

regulations. These modifications are discussed in more detail below.

    In reference to the first paragraph of the proposed notice and 

sign, forty-seven (47) commenters suggested that the language was vague 

and that the sign Federal firearms licensees would be required to post, 

as well as the written notification, should accurately explain the 

exceptions included in the YHSA that would allow the lawful transfer 

to, or possession by, an individual under the age of 18 years. For 

example, the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute 

(SAAMI) suggested that this item should ``include a thorough, accurate 

and objective explanation of these circumstances and/or include the 

language of the statute itself.'' The National Rifle Association (NRA) 

commented that ``[a]t the very least, the entire text of the law should 

be given, especially outlining the full text of these exceptions * * 

*''

    ATF recognizes that there are exceptions listed in the YHSA that 

allow persons under 18 years of age to receive and possess a handgun, 

and the proposed language referred to these limited circumstances. 

However, ATF believes that a detailed discussion of the exceptions 

would have been too long to include in the notice and sign. 

Nonetheless, ATF agrees with the respondents who suggested that the 

proposed language of the notice and sign might raise questions in the 

minds of purchasers as to when it was lawful for a juvenile to possess 

a handgun.

    Accordingly, ATF is adopting the suggestion of those commenters who 

advocated that the written notification set forth the entire language 

of the statute. The final rule provides that the required written 

notification (ATF I 5300.2) will include the complete language of the 

statutory provision appearing at 18 U.S.C. section 922(x), including 

the exceptions. Owing to the length of this statutory language, the 

sign will merely refer the purchaser to the ATF I 5300.2 for the 

complete provisions of the law. The sign will also advise the public 

that a copy of this publication may be obtained from the licensee 

posting the sign or from the ATF Distribution Center.

    In reference to the second provision of the notice and sign, forty-

three (43) of the respondents again stated that the language was vague 

and that the sign and written notification should more specifically set 

forth the exceptions included in the YHSA that would allow the lawful 

possession of a handgun by a juvenile in certain limited circumstances. 

In addition, four (4) respondents stated that the reference to the 

maximum penalty provided by law for a violation of section 922(x) was 

misleading, since the maximum penalty only applied in limited 

circumstances.

    As previously noted, the final rule provides that the written 

notification will contain the entire language of section 922(x), so 

that interested handgun purchasers may read for themselves the 

exceptions outlined in the statute. ATF has also included in the 

written notification the full text of the penalty provision set forth 

in 18 U.S.C. 924(a)(6) for violations of section 922(x). Again, the 

sign will refer the purchaser to the complete language of the law as 

outlined in the written notification. We believe that this will ensure 

that purchasers of handguns receive complete and accurate information 

as to the statutory penalties imposed on violations of section 922(x).

    The NRA noted that the proposed regulations do not mention the 

statutory restrictions on the transfer to juveniles and use by 

juveniles of ammunition that is suitable only in a handgun. As noted 

previously, the entire provisions of the law will be set forth in the 

written notification. This includes the statutory provisions regarding 

handgun ammunition.

    In reference to the third provision of the proposed regulations, 

seventeen (17) respondents opposed the inclusion of the language that 

``handguns are a leading contributor to juvenile violence and 

fatalities.'' Another fifteen (15) stated that this provision should be 

deleted entirely. Many commenters suggested that the entire statement 

offered value judgments, and argued that it was the perpetrators of the 

shooting, not the handguns used in the shooting, that contributed to 

juvenile violence and fatalities.

    The proposed language was not intended to convey the message that 

handguns alone are responsible for juvenile violence. In fact the 

language noted that handguns were a ``contributor'' to juvenile 

violence. However, ATF agrees with the commenters who suggested that 

this provision could be clarified. For example, Sturm, Ruger & Company 

suggested that the language be modified to refer to the misuse of 

illegally possessed firearms. ATF has partially adopted this comment. 

As set forth in the final rule, this provision now states that ``The 

misuse of handguns is a leading contributor to juvenile violence and 

fatalities.''

    In reference to the fourth and final provision of the proposed 

statement, fifteen (15) of the respondents believed that it was 

unnecessary to have safety warning notices for firearms. Another twelve 

(12) stated that this provision should be deleted entirely.

    Many of the commenters noted that there is no Federal law mandating 

a specific type of storage or locking requirement for handguns. For 

example,



[[Page 37742]]



the NRA commented that ``the proposed warning concerning the safe 

storage and locking of handguns is not only superfluous, but also 

implies that there is a Federal law requiring these safety measures.''

    However, some comments supported the inclusion of a generic 

statement encouraging the safe storing and securing of firearms in 

order to prevent accidents. For example, SAAMI stated that they would 

support the ``[i]nclusion of a statement that safely storing and 

securing firearms can prevent accidents.'' On the other hand, HCI 

suggested that the notice be revised to more explicitly state what is 

meant by ``safely storing and locking handguns away from children.''

    ATF does not agree that the original proposed language implied that 

there was a Federal law requiring that handguns be stored or locked in 

a particular fashion. However, in response to the comments received on 

this issue, the final rule modifies the language of this provision to 

state that ``Safely storing and securing firearms away from children 

will help prevent the unlawful possession of handguns by juveniles, 

stop accidents, and save lives.'' This statement encourages handgun 

owners to ensure compliance with the law as well as to promote general 

gun safety.

    Finally, the order of the four provisions has been rearranged for 

purposes of clarity. The revised language of the sign and notice is 

reflected in the regulations portion of this Treasury Decision.



Regulatory Flexibility Act



    It is hereby certified under the provisions of Section 3 of the 

Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 605(b), that this final rule will 

not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 

entities. The notices and signs that are required in this document will 

be provided free of charge by the Federal Government to Federal 

firearms licensees. Licensees may choose to provide the required 

written notice in another format; however, they always have the option 

of using the notices provided by ATF. Moreover, the new requirements 

relating to the posting of signs and the distribution of notices will 

place only a minimal burden on firearms licensees. Accordingly, a 

regulatory flexibility analysis is not required.



Executive Order 12866



    It has been determined that this regulation is not a significant 

regulatory action as defined by Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, 

this regulation is not subject to the analysis required by this 

Executive Order.



Paperwork Reduction Act



    The provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. 

chapter 35, and its implementing regulations, 5 CFR part 1320, do not 

apply to this final rule because no new reporting or recordkeeping 

requirements are imposed.



List of Subjects in 27 CFR Part 178



    Administrative practice and procedure, Arms and ammunition, 

Authority delegations, Customs duties and inspections, Exports, 

Imports, Military personnel, Penalties, Reporting requirements, 

Research, Seizures and forfeitures, and Transportation.



Authority and Issuance



PART 178--[AMENDED]



    Part 178--Commerce in Firearms and Ammunition is amended as 

follows:

    Paragraph 1. The authority citation for 27 CFR Part 178 continues 

to read as follows:



    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 552(a); 18 U.S.C. 847, 921-930; 44 U.S.C. 

3504(h).



    Par. 2. Section 178.103 is added to Subpart F to read as follows:





Sec. 178.103  Posting of signs and written notification to purchasers 

of handguns.



    (a) Each licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer, or collector who 

delivers a handgun to a nonlicensee shall provide such nonlicensee with 

written notification as described in paragraph (b) of this section.

    (b) The written notification (ATF I 5300.2) required by paragraph 

(a) of this section shall state as follows:



    (1) The misuse of handguns is a leading contributor to juvenile 

violence and fatalities.

    (2) Safely storing and securing firearms away from children will 

help prevent the unlawful possession of handguns by juveniles, stop 

accidents, and save lives.

    (3) Federal law prohibits, except in certain limited 

circumstances, anyone under 18 years of age from knowingly 

possessing a handgun, or any person from transferring a handgun to a 

person under 18.

    (4) A knowing violation of the prohibition against selling, 

delivering, or otherwise transferring a handgun to a person under 

the age of 18 is, under certain circumstances, punishable by up to 

10 years in prison.



FEDERAL LAW



    The Gun Control Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, provides in 

pertinent part as follows:



18 U.S.C. 922(x)



    (x)(1) It shall be unlawful for a person to sell, deliver, or 

otherwise transfer to a person who the transferor knows or has 

reasonable cause to believe is a juvenile--

    (A) a handgun; or

    (B) ammunition that is suitable for use only in a handgun.

    (2) It shall be unlawful for any person who is a juvenile to 

knowingly possess--

    (A) a handgun; or

    (B) ammunition that is suitable for use only in a handgun.

    (3) This subsection does not apply to--

    (A) a temporary transfer of a handgun or ammunition to a 

juvenile or to the possession or use of a handgun or ammunition by a 

juvenile if the handgun and ammunition are possessed and used by the 

juvenile--

    (i) in the course of employment, in the course of ranching or 

farming related to activities at the residence of the juvenile (or 

on property used for ranching or farming at which the juvenile, with 

the permission of the property owner or lessee, is performing 

activities related to the operation of the farm or ranch), target 

practice, hunting, or a course of instruction in the safe and lawful 

use of a handgun;

    (ii) with the prior written consent of the juvenile's parent or 

guardian who is not prohibited by Federal, State, or local law from 

possessing a firearm, except--

    (I) during transportation by the juvenile of an unloaded handgun 

in a locked container directly from the place of transfer to a place 

at which an activity described in clause (i) is to take place and 

transportation by the juvenile of that handgun, unloaded and in a 

locked container, directly from the place at which such an activity 

took place to the transferor; or

    (II) with respect to ranching or farming activities as described 

in clause (i) a juvenile may possess and use a handgun or ammunition 

with the prior written approval of the juvenile's parent or legal 

guardian and at the direction of an adult who is not prohibited by 

Federal, State, or local law from possessing a firearm;

    (iii) the juvenile has the prior written consent in the 

juvenile's possession at all times when a handgun is in the 

possession of the juvenile; and

    (iv) in accordance with State and local law;

    (B) a juvenile who is a member of the Armed Forces of the United 

States or the National Guard who possesses or is armed with a 

handgun in the line of duty;

    (C) a transfer by inheritance of title (but not possession) of a 

handgun or ammunition to a juvenile; or

    (D) the possession of a handgun or ammunition by a juvenile 

taken in defense of the juvenile or other persons against an 

intruder into the residence of the juvenile or a residence in which 

the juvenile is an invited guest.

    (4) A handgun or ammunition, the possession of which is 

transferred to a juvenile in circumstances in which the transferor 

is not in violation of this subsection shall not be subject to 

permanent confiscation by the Government if its possession by the 

juvenile subsequently becomes unlawful because of the conduct of the 

juvenile, but shall be returned to the lawful owner when such 

handgun or ammunition is no longer required by the



[[Page 37743]]



Government for the purposes of investigation or prosecution.

    (5) For purposes of this subsection, the term ``juvenile'' means 

a person who is less than 18 years of age.

    (6)(A) In a prosecution of a violation of this subsection, the 

court shall require the presence of a juvenile defendant's parent or 

legal guardian at all proceedings.

    (B) The court may use the contempt power to enforce subparagraph 

(A).

    (C) The court may excuse attendance of a parent or legal 

guardian of a juvenile defendant at a proceeding in a prosecution of 

a violation of this subsection for good cause shown.



18 U.S.C. 924(a)(6)



    (6)(A)(i) A juvenile who violates section 922(x) shall be fined 

under this title, imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both, except 

that a juvenile described in clause (ii) shall be sentenced to 

probation on appropriate conditions and shall not be incarcerated 

unless the juvenile fails to comply with a condition of probation.

    (ii) A juvenile is described in this clause if--

    (I) the offense of which the juvenile is charged is possession 

of a handgun or ammunition in violation of section 922(x)(2); and

    (II) the juvenile has not been convicted in any court of an 

offense (including an offense under section 922(x) or a similar 

State law, but not including any other offense consisting of conduct 

that if engaged in by an adult would not constitute an offense) or 

adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent for conduct that if engaged in 

by an adult would constitute an offense.

    (B) A person other than a juvenile who knowingly violates 

section 922(x)--

    (i) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 1 

year, or both; and

    (ii) if the person sold, delivered, or otherwise transferred a 

handgun or ammunition to a juvenile knowing or having reasonable 

cause to know that the juvenile intended to carry or otherwise 

possess or discharge or otherwise use the handgun or ammunition in 

the commission of a crime of violence, shall be fined under this 

title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.



    (c) This written notification shall be delivered to the nonlicensee 

on ATF I 5300.2, or in the alternative, the same written notification 

may be delivered to the nonlicensee on another type of written 

notification, such as a manufacturer's or importer's brochure 

accompanying the handgun; a manufacturer's or importer's operational 

manual accompanying the handgun; or a sales receipt or invoice applied 

to the handgun package or container delivered to a nonlicensee. Any 

written notification delivered to a nonlicensee other than on ATF I 

5300.2 shall include the language set forth in paragraph (b) of this 

section in its entirety. Any written notification other than ATF I 

5300.2 shall be legible, clear, and conspicuous, and the required 

language shall appear in type size no smaller than 10-point type.

    (d) Except as provided in paragraph (f) of this section, each 

licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer who delivers a handgun to a 

nonlicensee shall display at its licensed premises (including temporary 

business locations at gun shows) a sign as described in paragraph (e) 

of this section. The sign shall be displayed where customers can 

readily see it. Licensed importers, manufacturers, and dealers will be 

provided with such signs by ATF. Replacement signs may be requested 

from the ATF Distribution Center.

    (e) The sign (ATF I 5300.1) required by paragraph (d) of this 

section shall state as follows:



    (1) The misuse of handguns is a leading contributor to juvenile 

violence and fatalities.

    (2) Safely storing and securing firearms away from children will 

help prevent the unlawful possession of handguns by juveniles, stop 

accidents, and save lives.

    (3) Federal law prohibits, except in certain limited 

circumstances, anyone under 18 years of age from knowingly 

possessing a handgun, or any person from transferring a handgun to a 

person under 18.

    (4) A knowing violation of the prohibition against selling, 

delivering, or otherwise transferring a handgun to a person under 

the age of 18 is, under certain circumstances, punishable by up to 

10 years in prison.



    Note: ATF I 5300.2 provides the complete language of the 

statutory prohibitions and exceptions provided in 18 U.S.C. 922(x) 

and the penalty provisions of 18 U.S.C. 924(a)(6). The Federal 

firearms licensee posting this sign will provide you with a copy of 

this publication upon request. Requests for additional copies of ATF 

I 5300.2 should be mailed to the ATF Distribution Center, P.O. Box 

5950, Springfield, Virginia 22150-5950.



    (f) The sign required by paragraph (d) of this section need not be 

posted on the premises of any licensed importer, manufacturer, or 

dealer whose only dispositions of handguns to nonlicensees are to 

nonlicensees who do not appear at the licensed premises and the 

dispositions otherwise comply with the provisions of this part.



    Signed: May 28, 1998.

John W. Magaw,

Director.



    Approved: June 6, 1998.

John P. Simpson,

Deputy Assistant Secretary (Regulatory, Tariff and Trade Enforcement).

[FR Doc. 98-18546 Filed 7-10-98; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4810-31-P