How to Do a FOIA Request

I don’t have an account on The High Road, so I have no way to respond to this other than here.  It’s very important to make a distinction between asking for a document, and making a legal inquiry.  The office that handles FOIA requests can handle one type of request, but not the others.  All that needs to be asked is this:

Pursuant to the federal Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, I request access to and copies of all documents relating to the FFL Holder: Joshua Alan Sugarman 1730 Rhode Island Avenue NW #1014 Washington DC 20036 License Number: 1-54-XXX-XX-XX-00725.

That should be all you need.  Anything else:

Justification of how a 501c(3) non-profit corporation can obtain a type 1 FFL when the intent of having a type 1 FFL is to: devote time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms.

This is a legal question, not a request for documents the government has, which is what FOIA governs. It’s important to stick to that, and remember that a FOIA request isn’t The Inquisition.  The less complicated you make things for the bureaucrats who handle this stuff, the more likely the request will be successful.

9 thoughts on “How to Do a FOIA Request”

  1. Thanks for the clarification. Is there any special form you need or is it just a simple letter. Does that letter get sent to one location within the federal government or do you send it to a specific office/organization location(ATF for this example) which then responds.

  2. ATF publishes where to send FOIA requests. All it takes is the one paragraph asking for all the documents they have relating to that licensee. Their people know what they can and can’t release. They will respond back to you.

  3. I saw that FOIA request and it immediately struck me as being very poorly drafted. I hope that he waited before sending it.

    I also hope that people don’t mistake all this blog activity as a suggestion that they also file poorly drafted FOIA requests as well. The volume of identical requests gives the ATF advance warning that something significant is happening and the poor drafting lets them reject the requests while they get their ducks in a row.

    About THR, it is a pro-gun, pro-LEO blog disguised as a discussion board. The mods have made the rules increasingly more fine grained and draconian over the years in their eternal drive to keep the discussion perfectly civil and non-controversial, lest some reporter take a member’s post out of context. (Unwarranted self importance much?) They basically want the appearance of discussion without the risks that someone might say something unexpected.

  4. And don’t expect a quick response. While they need to get back to you in 20 days, for any request that may be difficult or otherwise set off red flags, expect them to simply respond within 20 days that more time is needed.

    By asking for what are essentially internal deliberative papers, I’d suspect that the THR request isn’t going to be honored any time soon. The entire thing will get bumped up to the Office of General Counsel.

  5. As far as THR, its a good forum and I’ve never found the moderators to act in anything close to a draconian manner. They have definite rules and they will enforce those rules. But they are usually pretty clear about why they made a decision and I’ve always thought their decisions made sense.

    Having witnessed the irrelevency that Glock Talk descended into, and the ability of the GOA/Ron Paul nutsnot to mention the racists and religious bigots to destroy all sorts of thoughtful conversations, I can’t say I blame them at all for their moderation.

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