ATF Enters into Rulemaking to Extend the Term for an Import License

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF or BATFE) entered into ruelmaking the other day to extend the term for an Import License. The Attorney General of the United States is responsible for enforcing Section 38 of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), the Gun Control Act, and the National Firearms Act.  The Attorney General has delegated these duties to the Director of the ATF, pursuant to 28 C.F.R. 0.130. Currently, one must file a Form 6–Part 1 with the ATF and obtain approval to import a firearm. The maximum duration of an import license is one year. See 27 C.F.R. 447.43(a). Furthermore, if the shipment is not completed within that one year period, another Form 6–Part 1 must be submitted and approval obtained for the unshipped balance. See 27 C.F.R. 447.43(b).

In August of 2010, The FireArms Import-Export Roundtable (FAIR) Trade Group submitted a petition to the ATF requesting that the period of validity be extended from one year to two years, because this would be beneficial to the Industry and ATF, without having any impact on public safety or compliance with the laws. FAIR stated in its Petition,

[E]xtending the period a license [permit] is valid could reduce the workload for [ATF] examiners by lowering the number of renewals submitted to ATF and reduce the uncertainty importers face when dealing with long-lead time deals. [Many licensed and/or registered importers import the same defense articles year after year. ATF processes these ‘‘renewal’’ permits.]

Renewals are a relatively common procedure—whether for items stored in a CBD [sic] or for transactions that take longer than a year to complete—that the industry must undertake at this time. Renewals of existing permits are perfunctory processes that consume the valuable resources of both the industry and the ATF. The time necessary to log, process and approve these permits does not appear to provide any additive compliance or enforcement value to the importation process.

FAIR also submitted information showing that approximately 50% of the granted Import Licenses, of the 9,000, per year, require renewal. Hence, by changing the time period from one year to two years, the ATF would have approximately 4500 less applications to review and, in essence, re-approve; thereby, reducing expense. The ATF estimates that it currently takes an an Importer’s employee approximately 30 minutes to review and complete a Form 6 –Part 1 application, where the average hourly wage of an employee is $26.50. This would result in approximately a $59,625 annual savings for Importers. Furthermore, the ATF spends approximately $28, for two hours of a data entry contractors time, having the information from each Form 6–Part 1 entered into its systems and reviewed; plus, $97.88 for four hours of an examiner’s time to review and approve each Form 6–Part 1. This equates to an approximate total annual savings of $571,320 for the ATF.

Because this change to the current regulation would greatly benefit the Industry, as well as the ATF, I am highly suggesting that you take the time and write a comment regarding this change. Remember, typically Administrative Agencies only receive negative comments, which can greatly hurt positive changes, because the agency cannot show the Congress that any individual is supporting the change. The easiest way to submit a comment is to go to the  Federal eRulemaking Portal and follow the instructions for submitting comments; or, here is a direct link. If you rather send it via US Mail, send it to: Deborah G. Szczenski, Industry, Operations Specialist, Mailstop 6N–602, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Avenue NE., Washington, DC 20226; ATTN: ATF 43P. Written comments must appear in minimum 12-point size of type (.17 inches), include the commenter’s mailing address, be signed, and may be of any length. You can also fax it to (202) 648–9741.

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