ATF Leak Exposes Industry Operations Manual

ATF Agents IMG ATFHQ-IG Public Domain

MARTINSBURG, WV -( AmmoLand News has obtained a leaked copy of the 2019 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Industry Operations Manual.

The manual is the internal guide that the Industry Operations Inspectors (IOI) use when conducting federal firearms licensees (FFL) inspections. An IOI is not a special agent. They are an ATF employee assigned to carry out compliance inspections and audits of records that FFLs hold. While special agents are considered law enforcement and have the power to arrest, the IOIs work on the industry side of the Bureau.

The document is 190 pages long and gives an insight into what the IOIs look for during their FFL compliance inspections. The document lays down what the IOIs can and can’t do during their official visits. It includes when the IOI can run a NICS check on the FFL’s responsible parties. The document also covers when an IOI must refer a case to a criminal investigator. The IOIs cannot perform a criminal investigation.

The document not only goes into procedures used by IOIs during their compliance visits but it also covers the techniques that the IOIs will use during their visits to FFLs. The document also covers more mundane topics such as the ATF’s work from home policy and the use of government vehicles by the IOIs.

One of the interesting things about the IOI position is that IOIs are not allowed to carry firearms while working. This restriction even applies to those who have valid concealed carry permits. The IOIs are not even allowed to keep their guns in their cars.

The document will be an immense help to firearms dealers that are fighting against the revocation of their FFLs. Currently, FFL revocations are up by 500%. Under the current Biden administration, the ATF has targeted FFLs and has been revoking FFLs for the slightest infraction. President Biden calls these gun stores “rogue dealers.” By having a copy of the manual, these targeted FFLs can ensure that the ATF IOIs followed proper procedures during the inspections.

The IO Manual can also help in a criminal defense strategy of a gun dealer accused of criminal activity if the ATF employee improperly used their role as an IOI to collect evidence of illegal activity when they should have filled out a suspicious activity report. The manual makes it abundantly clear that IOIs are not law enforcement officers.

The ATF has stalled multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests trying to get a copy of the Industry Operations Manual, leading many in the gun community to wonder why the ATF would try to prevent the manual from being distributed to the public. Some think that the ATF did not want the IO Manual to fall into the hands of criminal defense lawyers and FFLs.

AmmoLand News has not completed a full examination of the manual. With the increased number of revocations and an administration increasingly hostile towards the gun industry, we felt the time is of the essence to get this document in the hands of FFLs and defense attorneys alike.

About John Crump

John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at

John Crump

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