Anyone who has known me for more than five minutes knows my displeasure at the current state of affairs at the ATF, and specifically the wait times for NFA (National Firearms Act) paperwork to be processed. Seven months for a single form to be processed is honestly too much, and the American Silencer Association agrees. They met with the ATF NFA branch and members of congress recently to discuss the current issues and try to speed up the process, and hearing them talk about what’s going on behind the scenes (as well as seeing the STACKS of NFA forms in their hallways) was very enlightening and enjoyable. Here are the cliff notes…

The ATF’s NFA branch is beta testing an electronic system for some of their NFA forms. Silencer supremo Kevin Brittingham (formerly of AAC fame) has frequently recommended e-filing to limit the length of time needed for an ATF OK to transfer a silencer from one KNOWN, LICENSED DEALER to another. Thankfully, the ATF now agrees; they’re working towards implementing office management systems circa the late 20th century.

The big news: the ATF NFA branch is pushing for the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) sign-off to go the way of the dinosaur.

The CLEO sign-off is used in many places to enact a de facto ban on NFA ownership. If the CLEO doesn’t sign off on your form you can’t get a silencer. Or machine gun. Or anything fun.

It’s doubtful if we’ll see this come to fruition given the politics involved, but it’s a glimmer of hope and an acknowledgement that the people at the NFA branch really do understand and want to make things better for law abiding citizens. [ED: in theory.]

The American Silencer Association are newbs (founded last year). They’re a promising group of individuals who understand what they need to do to get the job done. Watch this space.

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22 Responses to ATF May Ditch Local Law Enforcement Suppressor Sign-Off

  1. went to a rental range in utah. passed up the machine guns. fired them on the taxpayers dime many years ago. rented a 40 s&w glock with a can. fired it first without the can. when i put the can on i saw that it blocked the sights. surprised me when i shot better with the can in place. coolness factor was there too. people with m16’s and mp5’s were stopping to watch the can in action. if i didn’t live in california i would get one for my makarov.

  2. Wish I was dealing with the headache of the ATF processing wait times…but alas, I’m in CA. No silencers for law abiding citizens here.

  3. Interesting video. The piles of boxes of paperwork at the NFA branch are just amazing.

    Nice Reservoir Dogs walkout at the end, too.

  4. A refusal by CLEO’s to sign off on the forms is counterproductive to the ATF. It just pushes people to own NFA firearms in trusts or companies, which are more opaque to the ATF. For example, if you create a revocable inter-vivos trust (the so-called “living trust”), most are written so that you can aapoint/remove trustees at will during your lifetime, all of whom could legally possess the NFA firearm in their capacity as trustee, and ATF will only know about/be able to background check the initial trustee who submits the ATF form 1 or 4. Same for companies (substitute officers for trustees), and even then no fingerprints are required.

    My county is one where the CLEO will never do a signoff (even the Republicans), so everyone here does trusts (and the NFA trusts attorneys do fairly brisk business).

  5. The BATFE is an unconstitutional and inherently immoral, unethical organization and ought to be abolished immediately and never replaced, along with all other federal agencies and the federal government itself. All of you gun nuts who don’t seem to comprehend this: please kick yourselves in the pants for me.

    • The BATFE is an unconstitutional
      I agree with your statement, but how does it existing violate the constitution?

      • Because the Second says the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The F in ATF (which is now their primary focus) only serves to do just that.
        All of Title 18, Section 922 USC should be struck.

        • Really? I’ll bite. You are saying that not a single bit of regulation or (much as I hate this expression) common sense restrictions are allowed because the 2A says “shall not be infringed”. Discuss, or stop hiding behind the mantra of “shall not be infringed”.

        • in·fringe·ment noun \in-ˈfrinj-mənt\
          1: the act of infringing : violation
          2: an encroachment or trespass on a right or privilege.

          I’ve read the 2A of the CONUS probably thousands of times, and I’ve NEVER seen a clause regarding “common sense regulation.” The 2A is pretty blunt. “Shall not be infringed.” is pretty clear in the meaning that the government has no right to infringe (encroach or hamper) the people’s right to keep and bear arms.

          If there is any ‘arm’ out there so terrible that the people ought not be trusted with it, then no government has any business possessing it either. So as soon as the government turns in all of their rifles and starts using muskets, then we can discuss restricting the peasantry to the use of muskets.

          Until such time as the government starts playing by the rules that it lays out for the peasantry, you cannot argue reasonably that the government (eg, ATF) is not unconstitutionally infringing upon the rights of the people to keep and bear arms.

          Game. Set. Match.

  6. Alas, silencers are illegal by statute in Massachusetts, so the whole question of CLEO approval is moot.

    I believe that the politicians here are concerned that We The People will make them the politicos wear the damn things. Which, when you think about it, is not such a bad idea.

  7. The ATF and paperwork backlog reminds me of a quote from The Simpsons, it’s about the IRS, but still – Mr. Simpson, this government computer can process over nine tax returns per day. Did you really think you could fool it?

  8. As much as many of you enjoy bashing your “anti-gun” home state, I never hear you talk about moving to the many gun-loving “free” states. Maybe your liberal states offer something after all….

    • That would be me I guess…but for starters, I was born here. I didn’t ask to be born into a gun-hating state. I’ve lived in other states like WA where gun laws were not restrictive. Nowadays in CA, moving is not an option due to kids, family, career, investments, hobbies, etc. Also, no other gun-friendly state next to me provides the climate, geography (ocean, mountains, lakes, etc), job market, income, hobbies or general lifestyle I’ve come to enjoy. In the end, suppressors (and the use bullet buttons with 10 round mags – easily reversable when I cross the border) are a small price to pay when weighing everything else. I am now in Kalifornia by choice, and will continue to bitchh about my states ridiculous gun laws. If nothing else, it will at least make some of you feel better about where you reside. PS: JWM – I fight whenever/wherever I can for gun rights in CA, by contacting my elected officials and by voting (and by buying lots of “evil” firearms).

  9. it’s simple ben. we don’t run, we stand our ground and fight for our rights and the rights of those that do run.

  10. We Utahns love our guns, silencers, and our self defense laws. It was no surprise to me when I saw one of the congressmen they met with was from Utah (5:40, the state flag is visible in the background and the bee/beehive is the state symbol).

  11. The limiting factor on getting an NFA item isn’t the CLEO signoff, it’s the 7-8 month wait to get your stamp from the ATF. This will do absolutely nothing to speed that up, it only eases the process of getting to the point. In fact, by making that easier, it’ll probably increase the number of applications for tax stamps… overloading the ATF even more.

    Speaking as someone with three stamps pending, thanks a lot guys.

  12. One thing that was interesting was the note about the electronic paperwork filing. If it every comes to be, that will speed up the FFL to FFL transfers, but the narrator on the video also mentioned that NFA trusts and corporations could use the electronic as well. Only individuals who need to submit fingerprints and photographs would be unable to use it. Seems to me, yet another potential reason for the NFA trust.

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