Form 1 and Form 4 Examiner Wait Times – Think Twice Before Complaining

With Form 1 and Form 4 wait times generally exceeding 6 months, many individuals complain about the Examiners taking too long to approve the forms. However, before complaining, and possibly offending the Examiners, make sure that you understand the current workload that they are under and that some are working 7 days a week.

Steve Albro, Chief of ATF’s Firearms/Explosives Services Division, previously commented that since 2011, until approximately April 2012 when the research assistants were hired, more applications were received than were processed. He attributed the increased demand on silencers/suppressor sales in states that previously prohibited the ownership of silencers/suppressors. Moreover, every month has been a million dollar plus month in revenue, since 2011. Just taking the figure of $1 million dollars and assuming all of those were $200 tax stamps (aka excluding AOW applications) that would result in 5000 applications a MONTH. Divided by the 10 examiners, that would result in each receiving 500 new applications per month. This number does not take into consideration the amount of dealer-to-dealer (SOT to SOT) transfers, as no tax would be due. Accordingly, you can easily double this number when you factor in the transfer from the manufacture or dealer to your dealer, before the transfer to you can occur.

While research examiners will need time to get up to speed, it seems, based on internet posts reflecting applications being kicked back for errors, that these research assistants have been fully vetting the pending forms, prior to the Examiners receiving them. This is a huge benefit to all, as this review will streamline the process and reduce the wait times, as the Examiners will not have to send the incorrect form back to the applicant and wait for a response. Since it is being dealt with during the pending or wait period, the applicant’s overall application approval period should be unaffected, if there are errors in the application.

So, you may be asking what spurred this blog article with information that I have previously blogged about. Well, I had a Form 4 pending for approximately 6 months and just received it back. Most would be excited about the approval and would pay little attention to the date of approval; however, I did. My Form 4 was approved August 12, 2012, by Nickie Dudash. So, you are probably saying, so what? August 12, 2012, if you look on a calendar, was a Sunday.

So, before you criticize or chastise the Examiners, be cognizant of the demands that they are under and that they are not shirking their duties. While entrepreneurs don’t mind working weekends and holidays, Government employees are rarely seen working anytime other than between 9am – 5pm (and usually, those time periods are truncated even more). So maybe next time that you submit a Form 1 or Form 4, submit a small note thanking them for their time and dedication. Let them know that it doesn’t go unnoticed and that they are appreciated. I know I will be sending a letter to NFA Branch Chief Edward Saavedra acknowledging Nickie’s outstanding service.

5 thoughts on “Form 1 and Form 4 Examiner Wait Times – Think Twice Before Complaining

  1. That’s great news it’s good to know that the additional personnel are having a positive effect on the process, I don’t think many people place fault on the examiners we all know that they have a tremendous workload. My issue is not with the individuals at the BATFE but with the administration of the department and the overall process. It is in my opinion unacceptable, the BATFE is a government agency that has a job to do, they are employees of the citizens and should be servicing our needs effectively and efficiently, the current process is anything but. It’s broken, there is no reason why a citizen should have to wait 6 months on a government agency to service them. The process needs an overhaul, the way things are have a negative impact on the industries economic growth and on the individual citizens that are required to obtain the ATF’s sign off and approval. So while I won’t complain about the individual employees I will continue to express my dissatisfaction with the agency to my congressional representatives until something is done to fix the process and properly service it’s customers.


  2. All good points….and my hat’s off to the workers, who are (whether they know it or not) lucky to get overtime in this economy. Nuff said, don’t get me started.

    Unfortunately this has become a politicized service with what might be a closing door, or at least more restricted door, for those who are forced to wait until after the presidential election. Rightly or wrongly this service is becomming viewed as ‘get it now or never’, which emphasizes time.

    My question is; If Obama wins, and he seeks to implement massively restrictive gun laws, will those applications already postmarked (prior to any implementation) be protected?…Or will new laws retro them vulnerable to the restrictive legal process? In other words…Is there an advantage to submitting requests before the election should there be an Obama victory?


    1. There is no way to know because there is no legislation currently pending which would limit NFA firearm applications. I’ve always been of the opinion, regardless of who is in the White House, to submit your forms as soon as possible. There is no incentive to wait.


  3. I have been tracking suppressor approval times including my own and have to say I do not buy the “We are over worked BS” it is clear the BATFE examiners are sitting on approvals and making individuals wait any where from 8-10 months before approving a tax stamp. It does not take this long to complete a background check and verify state laws of the applicant. This tactic is totally unacceptable yet no one will speak up out of fear that their application will be denied out of spite. Clearly this tactic is a directive from management and politically driven. So I say BS!!!!


  4. Are you kidding? I don’t care how hard they are working quite frankly. Spending $1000 and having to wait a YEAR while the government decides whether or not I can have it (infringement) it NONSENSE. So stop trying to take the heat off of them. The ATF needs to be abolished anyway. Yeah, I’m one of those types. You know, the ones actually concerned with freedom. See most people get caught up with arguing the symptoms. And that’s what the government wants because it distracts people from the real problem. Which is the government.


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