Recently the American Silencer Association, met with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (ATF or BATFE), as well as Congressional Leaders, to discuss issues relating to the silencer/suppressor industry, including the current 6-8 month wait for an approved Form 4 (or a Form 1 if you are manufacturing it yourself). During this meeting, the issue of electronic form, or E-Form, submission was discussed in relation to Form 1 and Form 4 applications.
As reflected in the video of the meeting with ATF, starting at approximately 2 minutes, 45 seconds, while the ATF is working on the removal of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) signature requirement, eForm 1 and 4’s should be available in the near future but limited to non-individual applications. As explained at approximate 3 minutes, 4 seconds, since individual applications, unlike trust applications, require submission of fingerprint cards and photographs, individual applications will not be able to be filed electronically. As they state, “This marks the single largest technological jump in the way forms are processed since the NFA’s [National Firearms Act] inception in 1934.”
The ATF has already started using eForms for such forms as the 4473 and Form 6 for Importation, as well as allowing Manufacturers and Exporters to file their Annual manufacturing and Exportation Report, 5300.11, via email. The ability to eFile Forms will allow the process to be streamlined, prevent or at least limit user input errors (on the Examiner end), and allow for easier delegation of Forms between Examiners and Clerical Staff. Also, the days of Forms accidentally finding their way to the shredder should become, for Trust transfers, a thing of the past (but perhaps replaced by disk failures).
This is an extremely welcomed improvement, which will likely include some form of electronic payment application, so that the payment can be processed immediately and the application placed into pending status in a much quicker period of time. As new developments arise with regards to the new eForms, I will make sure to keep everyone up-to-date.