As your agency grapples with increasing workloads and the need to uphold public safety, outdated systems hinder efficiency and create vulnerabilities. Modernizing firearm licensing and tracking with dedicated regulatory software offers a powerful solution to streamlining your agency’s processes, enhancing data security and empowering your staff to better serve constituents.

“Guns are obviously a very important and potentially dangerous thing to be selling/buying and authorizing the purchase of,” says GL Solutions’ Vice President for Business Solutions Sam Hardin. “Having the best available tools in tech to support the efficient flow of information is crucial. So much so, that it could unfortunately mean life or death in some cases. The software system needs to be easy to use, efficient and accurate or else there could be major ramifications.”

We explore the need for modernization, identify common pain points in the licensing process, outline a five-step process for modernization, and discuss key considerations for implementing regulatory software.

Why You Need to Modernize

Modernizing your licensing and tracking systems becomes imperative as regulations evolve and public demand for transparency increases. Manual processes lead to errors and delays in application processing. Data silos make it difficult to track firearm ownership history and perform background checks effectively. Outdated technology also creates security risks, leaving sensitive information vulnerable to breaches.

“One of the primary challenges in the firearm permitting process revolves around expediting the authorization process for dealers to maintain operational efficiency. A phone-based process, while essential, can cause delays that frustrate buyers and potentially disrupt dealer operations,” explains Marcy Merlot, Senior Workflow Architect at GL Solutions. She adds, “In contrast, an online authorization system provides immediate approvals, facilitating seamless and efficient business transactions.”

Modernizing your firearm licensing and tracking systems offers numerous benefits that directly impact your organization’s efficiency, compliance and overall effectiveness.

  • Improved Accuracy and Data Integrity: Modern software systems minimize human error, ensuring more accurate record-keeping and reducing the risk of compliance violations.
  • Enhanced Efficiency: Automated processes dramatically reduce processing times, allowing your staff to focus on more critical tasks and improving overall productivity.
  • Better Compliance Management: Advanced software provides real-time updates on regulatory changes, helping you stay ahead of compliance requirements and avoid costly penalties.
  • Increased Transparency: Digital systems offer improved tracking and reporting capabilities, enhancing accountability and facilitating more effective audits.
  • Improved Public Safety: Faster, more accurate background checks and improved information sharing between agencies contribute to enhanced public safety measures.
  • Cost Savings: While initial implementation may require investment, long-term savings in manpower, storage and error correction often outweigh the upfront costs.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making: Modern systems provide robust analytics and reporting tools, empowering you to make informed decisions based on accurate, up-to-date data.
  • Scalability: As regulations and workloads evolve, modern software systems adapt more easily to changing requirements and increasing demands.

Merlot boils down the benefits of modernizing into one simple point: to access a comprehensive firearm history swiftly from a centralized database. “This enables rapid identification of previous owners and the establishment dates of firearm possession, crucial in cases of misuse. For individuals, view a consolidated record of all firearm transactions, including purchases, sales, and the number of firearms owned. Additionally, this record integrates court-related firearm activities, ensuring firearms are only in the hands of those authorized to possess them,” she explains.

Pain Points in Firearm Licensing

Before embarking on modernization efforts, however, identifying common pain points in your current firearm licensing processes helps target areas for improvement. Legacy systems often create roadblocks and complications for your staff and applicants.

Hardin points out, “Firearm permitting can be sort of complicated. Especially if the state has elected to act as the Point of Contact (POC) for all firearm transactions – background checks. POCs refer to states in which Federal Firearm Licensed sellers report to the state to confirm buyers’ eligibility to buy a firearm. The state will review and compile many different data repositories, including FBI, NICS, mental health databases, local and federal criminal databases…and more, to determine a buyer’s eligibility to purchase a firearm.”

While most states are non-POC in which the FBI runs firearm background checks to confirm sellers’ eligibility, the POC states bear more of the onus at the state level.

Several additional specific pain points in firearm permitting at the state level include:

  • Manual Data Entry: Time-consuming manual data entry increases the risk of errors and delays in processing applications.
  • Outdated Technology: Legacy systems often lack compatibility with modern security standards and struggle to integrate with other necessary tools.
  • Limited Accessibility: Paper-based systems or outdated software may restrict access to critical information, hindering collaboration and efficiency.
  • Slow Processing Times: Manual reviews and approvals often result in significant backlogs and frustrated applicants.
  • Inconsistent Enforcement: Lack of standardized processes across jurisdictions can lead to inconsistent application of regulations.
  • Poor Data Sharing: Siloed systems impede information sharing between agencies, potentially compromising public safety efforts.
  • Inadequate Reporting Capabilities: Outdated systems often lack robust reporting tools, making it difficult to track trends, identify issues, and make data-driven decisions.
  • Security Vulnerabilities: Older systems lack modern security features, putting sensitive data at risk of breaches or unauthorized access.

5 Steps to Modernizing Firearm Licensing

Transitioning to a modern regulatory software solution requires careful planning and execution. Use this simple roadmap to guide you through the five-step agency transformation process:

Step 1: Diagnose Your Weaknesses

Conduct a thorough review: Launch a comprehensive review of your existing firearms licensing and tracking system. Identify bottlenecks causing long wait times for applicants. Look for inconsistencies or gaps in data collection that hinder transparency.

Gather stakeholder feedback: Don’t work in a silo. Solicit feedback from applicants, law enforcement, and gun dealers. What aspects of the system cause them the most difficulty? What information do they find most valuable?

Step 2: Standardize for Efficiency

Develop clear guidelines: Craft clear, consistent guidelines for every step of the firearms licensing process. This includes eligibility criteria, application procedures, and background check protocols. Everyone involved should be on the same page.

Streamline workflows: Identify and eliminate unnecessary steps in the licensing process. Switch to automated background checks, for example.

Step 3: Move Services Online

Develop an online portal: People expect convenient access to government services. Create a user-friendly online portal for firearms license applications, renewals and status checks. This empowers applicants to track progress and reduces administrative burden.

Offer secure online payments: Integrate secure online payment options. This eliminates the need for paper checks and money orders, simplifying the process.

Step 4: Integrate for a Holistic View

Consolidate disparate tools: Chances are, your agency uses various digital tools for different aspects of firearms management. Inventory these tools and identify opportunities for integration.

Create a central platform: Develop or adopt a central platform that integrates all your firearms data. This allows for seamless data sharing across departments, fostering a holistic view of licensing, registration, and background check information.

Step 5: Leverage Data for Continuous Improvement

Analyze trends: Don’t let modernization be a one-time event. Use your new data collection and analysis capabilities to identify trends in the productivity of your staff.

Develop targeted interventions: Based on data insights, develop targeted interventions to address specific areas of concern. This could involve allocating resources for mental health support or implementing stricter regulations in high-risk areas.

Regulatory Software Implementation Considerations

As you prepare to implement new regulatory software for firearm licensing and tracking, there are multiple considerations to keep in mind.

Hardin explains, “If the state you are working with is a POC state, the most important thing to consider when implementing a firearm licensing and permitting software solutions, is if it can support multiple sensitive data sources being imported into the system securely.”

“Also, maybe the same level of importance, can the software system adhere to and comply with the Criminal Justice Information Servies (FBI) standards to intake sensitive data relating background checks and individuals’ personal information? That is a big lift that requires a ton of auditing and separate VPN tunnels for secure access. However, it is an absolute must,” he adds.

Following are several other considerations when implementing firearm licensing and permitting software:

  • Data Security and Privacy: Ensure the chosen solution meets or exceeds industry standards for data protection and complies with relevant privacy regulations.
  • Scalability: Select a software solution that grows with your organization and adapts to changing regulatory requirements.
  • User Experience: Prioritize intuitive interfaces and workflows to minimize training needs and maximize adoption.
  • Integration Capabilities: Confirm that the platform integrates seamlessly with existing tools and databases to avoid creating new data silos.
  • Customization Options: Look for software solutions that offer flexibility to tailor the system to your specific needs and processes.
  • Compliance Updates: Choose a regulatory software solution that provides regular updates to keep pace with evolving regulations.
  • Reporting and Analytics: Ensure the system offers robust reporting tools to support data-driven decision-making.
  • Training and Documentation: Develop step-by-step business process guides to support ongoing system use.
  • Performance Metrics: Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of your modernization efforts.
  • Pilot Testing: Consider implementing the new system in phases or running a pilot program before full deployment.

In addition to these factors, Hardin cautions that “any software system that supports firearm licensing is involved de facto in the mix of the overall firearms conversation in this country”. “Depending on the side of the aisle, the system can either be seen as a hindrance or supportive of firearms ending up in the publics hands,” he says.

Modernize Your Firearm Permitting Process with GL Suite

Modernizing firearm licensing and tracking with regulatory software is a strategic investment that enhances efficiency, strengthens data security, and ultimately fosters a safer community. GL Suite offers a comprehensive software solution to modernize your regulatory operations, making them more efficient, secure and user-friendly. Our platform provides a seamless transition from outdated systems to cutting-edge technology, ensuring your agency stays ahead of regulatory demands and technological advancements. Contact us to learn more about how our regulatory software transforms government agencies into true models of modernization.

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