Today at the National Shooting Sports Foundation Import/Export Conference, Steve Albro, Chief of ATF’s Firearms/Explosives Services Division informed the attendees that that the elongated NFA approval process (Forms 1s and Forms 4s that are currently taking 6-8 months for approval) could be coming to an end!
He started out by explaining, as I have previously discussed, that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF or BATFE) hired 12 temporary “research assistants” and one temporary supervisor. He explained that the role of the temporary assistants is not to approve applications; but rather, to ensure that the applications have been correctly submitted, so that the examiners can stream line the approval process. Since 2011, the amount of received applications has surpassed the number of approved applications in every monthly period. He attributed this to the increased demand in the silencer/suppressor market, as more states have legalized the ownership and use of silencers/suppressors. He also stated that since 2011, every month has been a million dollar plus month in tax revenue received because of NFA applications.
However, in April of 2012, this trend changed. While every month continues to be a million dollar revenue month, they have been successful in approving more applications every month than received. This is attributed to the new temporary help. Since April of 2012, the backlog of applications was reduced by approximately 10,000 (~43,000 to ~34,000). While the examiners, prior to the temporary help, were approving 8,800 transfers per month, they are now approving in excess of 14,000 transfers a month. This is a huge accomplishment for an agency/ department that is under a hiring freeze.
He also explained that they are asking Congress to allow them to use some or all of the revenue collected to hire additional, permanent, help and to help fund an update to their antiquated systems. Currently, all money collected under the NFA is deposited into the Treasury’s account, where ATF has no access to it and no right to its use.
The other interesting tidbit that he disclosed when asked is that where an Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) submits a Form 1 or Form 4, that application is placed into a special folder for quicker processing, as the background of the FFL holder has already been vetted. So, for instance, if an 07 manufacturer FFL submits a Form 1 to make a destructive device that application would be processed swifter than if submitted by an individual. While it is rare that an FFL would be submitting a Form 1 or Form 4, it does occur and the NFA Branch already has a procedure in place to handle its processing.
As other pertinent information becomes available at the conference, I will make sure to keep everyone apprised.