Machine Guns & Ammo

The NFA tax stamp business is complicated, but it’s not that complicated. Anyone with a college degree should be able to have a pretty solid grasp of the legal concepts involved. The next step: find a gun businesses operated by people with college degrees. That’s actually the most difficult part. When buying a gun/ammo/silencer/machine gun/ACCO-WEDGE from an FFL you’re not just buying a tangible product. Let that sink in for a minute . . .

This business is rife with dishonesty. Since the name of this blog is The Truth about Guns, there’s no reason to shy away from reality. Admittedly, I’m honest to a fault and extremely brusque about it most of the time. But part of our reality reflects the fact that the truth is ugly far more often than it’s pretty.

I have seen it all when it comes to the gun business and the gun buying public. There are dozens of dishonest ways for a dealer to take someone’s money. It’s the modern version of the proverbial thumb on the butcher’s scale. One thing I find reprehensible: dealers will use their stature as a licensee of the federal government to spout things that are patently untrue in order to rake in more cash.

Case in point: firearm transfers. I’ve heard of dealers in states without universal background checks tell their customers that they aren’t allowed to sell guns they don’t want anymore and the firearm must be consigned back to the dealer for sale. If they don’t do that, they say, it’s against the law…and nobody wants to break the law. It’s a tax on those who are too lazy to fact check.

So, we have an industry with plenty of dishonesty from those with the ability to take money from consumers selling them services they don’t legally need. When confronted with accurate data and facts, these dealers will go ballistic and deny any impropriety whatsoever.

Stupid is our business and business is good.

What you pay for as a consumer is the reputation of the seller. The reputation of the seller is a critical component that people don’t seem to think much about anymore. There are many internet retailers out there known for taking money for product listed as “in stock” when it isn’t. They keep the consumer’s money until they get a fill. I don’t have to name names, but I’m certain many of you can figure out who I am referring to because their reputation is that poor.

The really irritating part: this behavior is common on the wholesale side, too. I have one customer who wanted an item special ordered. I ordered it from a wholesaler that claimed the product in stock. After six months waiting for a Form 3 from ATF, they finally admitted they didn’t have it. They were waiting for a restock to arrive.

I told them to send me my money back and they said they’d send me some free goods to make up for the lost sale. They sent the refund which went back to my customer. They never sent me the free goods. I do this because I have a good reputation to uphold. Other dealers would make the customer wait for their product to eventually arrive.

Now, to address some of the comments that were raised about the dealer’s termination of firearm business, the protagonist in our original story said the following:

“I get home and call the local and national ATF office hoping that they have some type of solution for me. Nope. Since the transfer was never approved by the ATF (hell, the paperwork was never even mailed to them) I’m officially SOL. My options at this point are to try and get ahold of the store’s owner and ask for a refund or pursue civil litigation.”

Here’s the truth about the situation. The ATF’s NFA Branch deals with the regulatory compliance aspect of NFA items. They have nothing to do with — and barely even know — if people are still in business or not. Their job isn’t problem solving. The Form 3 goes in, the Form 3 goes out. That’s their job. Yes, they have a few specialists in the building. But dealing with this sort of thing is not in the regulation book nor does it fall within the scope of their responsibilities.

Yes, the customer paid for the product. Yes, the customer is holding an unapproved Form 4. The customer doesn’t own anything in the eyes of the ATF. A blank Form 4 without a stamp is as much good as toilet paper. Could the customer find the business owner? Possibly. My hunch is that the cost to recover is greater than the original outlay.

Our protagonist has some more sage advice, which boils down to choose a good local dealer, pay with a credit card and send in your forms quickly. Mostly good advice. Being the local dealer who has done plenty of business with lots of happy customers over the years, I can say that what you’re paying me for is a little more complex than cost of goods sold + margin = retail price. Here’s why.

A few years ago, I had someone come in that needed a transfer on a machine gun he wanted to buy online. I sat down with him and talked about the process from start to finish, told him where the critically important phases were (if anyone guessed “ALL OF IT”, you get a cookie or alcoholic beverage of your choosing) and how things typically went wrong. I answered all his questions. After he was satisfied that I knew what I was talking about and he had a working understanding of the process he asked me what I would charge him.

I looked at my watch. It was 11:30 in the morning. We sat down at 10. I made a rough calculation on how much time I’d spend getting FedEx labels and proper forms written up for the party out-of-state to get the item to me and the rest of the process. This figure would cover wading through all the legal detritus that are ATF NFA Forms, FedEx and making sure everything went according to the well thought out plan.

My size up completed, I told the fellow that he’d owe me about $350 for getting all the work done including the return labels and answering all his questions. He seemed and sounded unimpressed. He asked me rather directly how I came to that number. The conversation went something like this:

FC: I’m going to need about $350.

1: From what I’ve gathered, you’re going to do spend about 5 minutes typing out paperwork for me and mailing it to ATF. Why should I pay you $350 for 5 minutes of work?

FC: Because I’ve spent 5 years learning how to do it in 5 minutes. I work harder at working smarter. You’re partly right though, typing out Form 4’s and doing your 4473 should take me about 5 minutes all total after proofreading. There’s only one thing you’re not taking into account though.

1: What’s that?

FC: I’m charging you $350 to make sure I’m still in business between today and the time ATF approves your forms several months from now. Would you rather I charge you $50 and when you come back in 9 months, there’s a “FOR RENT” sign in my window?

1. Will you take a personal check?

This is the side of the business that people don’t want to talk about. For a bunch of folks who are constantly dreaming up worst-case scenarios, how come nobody has thought to apply it to the business side of things? I knew gun owners could be shortsighted but I didn’t think it would be this shortsighted.

As a consumer, you’re paying the dealer for their time and effort. You’re also making sure they have a business that is in business by the time forms get back. Several years ago, when forms were taking 9-12 months to return forms, there was one business near me that prided themselves on their $20 standard transfer on firearms not regulated by the NFA. They got an SOT shortly thereafter and started doing NFA transfers for $20.

Everyone thought this was the greatest thing since squeeze mayonnaise. My business fell off and everyone went over to large internet dealers of guns and NFA devices and bought things there and used my comparatively inexpensive competition for the transfer. It worked phenomenally well — until it didn’t.

As I said earlier, you can find a college graduate in nearly every industry. The retail gun industry is typically not on that list. One thing that dealers (including myself) have learned over the years: doing $20 transfers is not a sustainable business model, much less $20 transfers that encompass NFA items.

Conventional wisdom can be ignored from time to time under the proper circumstances. But this is not something I will argue about because the amount of money brought in versus the amount of liability is disproportionate.

Our exemplar enterprise had a difficult time keeping their head above water as a result. But how was such a thing possible? It was a strange case of everyone loving the business on Facebook, with rave reviews and referrals coupled with a store full of people spending money every day of the week.

After all, how could you not like a business that would transfer in a gun from Buds for $20? If they didn’t have the gun, they’d order it themselves and charge you a $20 markup for the service. Nothing seemed to add up in terms of a long-term business model.

Several months later, after it all went completely sideways and into the ditch, I got a call from someone asking for a quote for a transfer. We got to talking about life, liberty and the pursuit of more guns the wife shouldn’t know about.

The potential customer was an attorney who worked for a local law firm. I was familiar with the name partner; I’d attended high school with both his kids and served on student council with his daughter. (How small a town that Baton Rouge can be always amuses me.)

The customer wanted some products I had that were in stock and we closed the deal. I wrapped up all the paperwork on the phone and sent it over to his law office. Just before we got off the phone he told me his last transaction had been a nightmare. I asked him how bad could it be – there’s not much to screw up in terms of getting a 4473 done right the first time and making sure the serial numbers are straight.

As it turns out, he’d visited my $20 competition just up the road and ordered a bunch of silencers from large internet dealers. By the time the forms had cleared at ATF for transfer to his local designee, the dealer was already on the rocks with ATF.

I don’t know 100 percent of the details. From what I’ve been able to figure out from the public domain, the county courthouse public records portal and the subsequent lawsuits, there was plenty of taking money and not much delivering. Firearms were sold on consignment with the owners of the firearms not getting any of the sale proceeds.

Talking to a few of ATF’s local industry operations people confirmed how broken their business model really was. Not even a Greek accountant could have saved this store. Because of their $20-one-size-fits-all business model, they couldn’t pay the rent and started effectively robbing Peter to pay Paul. The local IOI’s were winding down the operation due to people going to the local sheriff and filing criminal charges of theft and fraud as well as poor bookkeeping on top of a civil claim.

Their entire inventory was cataloged and seized as evidence in the criminal theft/fraud/conspiracy case – so now, nobody has the guns they paid for, nobody has the proceeds from the gun that they don’t own anymore, and all the NFA devices in limbo are in a regulatory purgatory only Sartre could understand.

Speaking of Sarte, on the topic of irony and critical thinking, I got him his product and his stamp in short order. He managed to take delivery of a purchase of in stock merchandise from a my business complete with tax stamp before he got to file a Form 4 on the first product he had purchased six months before from the folks that can’t run a business properly.

One popular alternative to running the risk of a dealer gone rogue (or Brazil): pay for items with a credit card. It’s a great idea in theory, but in practice we see quite the opposite.

Most merchant processors have a requirement in the terms of use about time-frame of delivery. In a nutshell, it says that as the merchant, we can only charge when product is ready to be delivered. In the case of a custom product, we can only take a deposit or have the product delivered in a window of X days.

The National Firearms Act of 1934 — where dealers have to wait for permission from the ATF to release an NFA item — creates a fugue state. Someone can come in and pay for an NFA product. We file forms with ATF and take their money via credit card. They do not take delivery of said product because ATF has not issued a stamp. However, the customer has paid for it.

In the view of the merchant processor and the issuing bank, the merchant has taken the customer’s money and not delivered product. This is a breach of the contract and the customer will be refunded. Not should be refunded – will be refunded. The issuing bank and processor will then yank money out of my account and return it to the customer.

The merchant processors have no idea of how long it takes to get a Form 4 cleared. So now I’ve done the regulatory work but I can’t resell the merchandise as it’s under transfer. And somehow the business is not allowed to get paid for the work performed or the merchandise in limbo.

I call shenanigans.

This is why many gun dealers shy away from credit card transactions. The idea of doing work and not being paid for it is a broken business model and I will avoid it whenever possible, as will many other dealers. We have enough things to worry about from a regulatory compliance standpoint. Add a“well did we get paid?” to that list? No thanks.

Some of this delay is on the customer. If your dealer gives you forms – TURN THEM IN. The sooner ATF gets paper, the sooner you can get the product. I have had people FORGET to turn in forms for YEARS. They then call me up and complain about how ATF is taking forever to get them a stamp. I’ll call ATF and they will report no record of forms being received. I’ll tell the customer to prove they paid the tax. Awkward conversation ensues and they finally admit they didn’t send in anything and I give them the evil eye.

I thought the gun culture was proud of “personal responsibility” – wouldn’t this be hypocritical behavior? While we’re on the subject, here’s a question from reddit about an NFA deal gone south. The short version: he bought a suppressor from a dealer, never turned in the paperwork and moved across town.

“So if those guys went out of business, they presumably had to give up their FFL/SOT, so OPs money aside for them to still hold onto the suppressor is a big no-no right? They also couldn’t resell it then without that, and since it doesn’t belong to them (no transfer took place and still belongs to the now defunct business I imagine) what happens? They destroy it and it sucks to be OP? I am a complete NFA n00b.“

This is a complicated question. As with all complicated questions, the correct answer is: IT DEPENDS. For starters, “So if those guys went out of business, they presumably had to give up their FFL/SOT, so OPs money aside for them to still hold onto the suppressor is a big no-no right?”

A Public Service Announcement for gun owners: I have no idea what this means. For the love of all that is holy, for one to ask a correct question, have a correct premise and clear objectives. Remember what I said about college graduates not being in the firearm industry? A few customers should head down to the junior college too in FC’s America. I digress…

Focusing on the question and the objectives that are clear, the product would still be on the books of the business and someone would still own it. Who/what is a question that requires further research. The only way for the product to be destroyed is if it was willfully destroyed by the owner. ATF wouldn’t be involved at that level.

The navigation of property recovery should not be something that any prospective gun buyer goes through, but this isn’t the first story I’ve heard nor will it be the last.

Anyone in the industry that is worth his or her salt should give the straight answer whenever possible. Especially when asked a frequent question from prospective customers. That question is: what’s stopping you from taking my money and not sending me a gun and disappearing?

”Nothing.” Except his honesty, or lack thereof.

122 Responses to Gun Deals Gone Bad Part 2: The Inherent Dangers of NFA Transfers

  1. Only buy from gun dealers who graduated college. Gun buyers should attend college. Because college teaches people how to run a business with integrity. OK…

    • It’s firearms concierge. He doesn’t audition for your business, you’re supposed to grovel for his.

      With that said, it is possible to make money on $20 transfers, you just have to have the right business model. I know the story of the FFL in question, there’s more to it than FC lets on – that is company money was being used to pay for personal expenses. That’s how/why that business went down the tubes.

      Finally, I would never pay anybody 350 to do a transfer for me, NFA or not. But then again he probably thinks everybody in Louisiana is a slack jawed yokel.

        • I’d say so, too. My guy charges $18. Every time I go there to do a transfer I buy something off the shelf. Last time it was ammo for an old small-caliber pocket pistol that I have no desire to load for. Once it was an antique target pistol. Had I not been in his shop, I’d never have known that he had it. At $18 I’m dead sure he makes money. He works for a five minutes, but has virtually zero incremental cost of production. No money invested in inventory, no imputed cost for floor space or displays, etc. At $18 per transfer, he’s making over $200 an hour.

        • At $18 he probably makes money on the (probably) non-NFA transfers he does. To be fair to FC; he didn’t indicate that he saw a huge problem with the $20 transfers until the same shop decided to start doing them for NFA transfers as well. Regulatory compliance (not to mention storage costs and the like) is just a whole lot more cumbersome for NFA items. Maybe not $330 more cumbersome, but still.

    • As a millenial with no college education, I take offense to fc. mr. fc, there are many other ways to learn than a college education. I believe I have said this before on this blog. Read books (lots of them) and learn a trade (I.e. electrician). For me it has worked out to a mostly free education (by reading books) and a more than 100k a year job (by learning a valuable trade) Others business models may not work, but their lack of college degrees probably has little to do with it. elitist much.

      • Since we’re all patting ourselves on the backs here, let me chime in (who knows, maybe it saves some kid a massive debt some day). I never got my degree, learned my trade myself (mostly before even trying to get a degree, in fact), and that had worked out to a nice six figure job, and a career where companies ask me whether I’d like to work for them, not the other way around.

        Furthermore based on what I’ve seen around, most people who do have degrees these days would be better off in trade schools, and many lucrative career paths – including my own – don’t really have any de facto requirements that a properly implemented trade school would not impart. Indeed, many college programs are trade schools in all but name (and time, and amount of money they take from you).

        I think this extreme snobbery around degrees comes party from self-validating one’s really expensive choices, and partly because the society as a whole has had this strange segregation into “good” and “bad” jobs that is very arbitrary. I can’t for the life of me understand why, say, a qualified welder who earns twice as much as an office clerk, and genuinely enjoys their job, is dismissed as unsuccessful compared to that same clerk. Especially when a lot of office jobs today are fundamentally not any different in nature, and don’t require any superior intellectual capabilities or anything like that – they’re also trades, they just involve less physical activity, but so what?

        • Ok – since you have divulged all this info – what does int19h represent?

          Are we talking about bootstrap loaders or what?

        • Back in DOS days, it was an assembly opcode to trigger BIOS interrupt handler 19h, aka load-boot-sector-and-jump (effectively, ultra-fast hot reboot skipping all the usual startup checks). A fun way to troll clueless teachers in programming classes in school when they try to run your program to grade it. If you fail the assignment because the teacher knows how the trick works, it’s a good teacher with something to learn from. ~

      • I’m glad I live in a state devoid of blood-sucking unions (except teachers and state employees, which is another issue) and can still hire independent electricians for a reasonable $65/hour.

    • I guess RF owns stock in this college professor’s gun shop. Booooo! No more advertisements for ego-inflated poindexters. There are plenty of savvy non-degreed business owners out there. Plenty of college-educated crooks as well. ” Let me tell you why you want smart guy like me to ……….”

      • I’ve met college educated gun gurus at our local high overhead gun palace. You get nice imported hardwood floors, real deer heads on the wall, a snack bar, and a big mark-up on firearms to pay for it all. I deal with a guy that’s been in the business for 40 years. You won’t get any snacks at his store, he doesn’t wear a Brooks Brothers shirt with an embroidered name tag – but he also doesn’t cheat you on trades, and his prices are extremely reasonable.

    • Unfortunately, there are a ton of dishonorable people in the world. And there is nothing magic about firearms business activities that somehow prevents dishonorable people from participating.

      There is a reason for the admonition, “Buyer beware.” Firearms Concierge is reminding us of that … especially with respect to the purchase and acquisition process for NFA goodies. To be totally honest, I never even thought about the scenario of your FFL going belly-up before Fedzilla returns your tax stamp … which is necessary before you can take possession of your NFA goodie.

      • I don’t doubt anything your saying, but having read this whole article, firearmconcierge might be in the business of stupid but my gun buying and selling friends are not.

  2. My preferred FFL charges $20 for a standard transfer as a wait for it, part of his business. He also buys, sells, and consigns guns profitably. On top of that, he isn’t an arrogant prick.

  3. Holy crap!!

    $350 for a transfer?!?

    That’s why I got my own FFL/SOT. Do you charge retail plus 30% on your NFA items too?

    • Theres a certain Dallas Subguns dealer here that charges full retail for suppressors, and $100 for the NFA paperwork (i.e., it’s not even a “transfer”)

  4. Doing $20 transfers is not a sustainable business model, much less $20 transfers that encompass NFA items.

    My FFL does transfers for $10 for non NFA items and has been in the business for years. Form 4473 require a phone call and take about 5/10 minutes. That’s like $60 to $120 bucks/ hour. He advised me he wanted to support gun owners with low transfer costs. I’ve worked with him many times and trust him completely. It’s hard not to trust a guy with the US constitution tattooed on his arm.

    • There is a dimension to this that Firearms Concierge appears to be missing. Sure, $10 to transfer a non-NFA item isn’t very much money. On the other hand, 5 minutes to fill out a Form 4473 isn’t a big deal, either. What is a big deal? That HAPPY customer coming to your store repeatedly to purchase additional firearms, ammunition, and accessories.

      I liken inexpensive FFL transfers to hamburgers at a fast-food restaurant: the restaurant basically breaks even on the sale of the hamburger … and pockets a huge mark-up on the sale of the french fries and drinks that accompany the sale of the hamburger. In basic business terms, the hamburger gets your customer in the door so that you can make a profit on the additional items that they purchase. And the same can be said for inexpensive FFL transfers: it gets customers in the door for accompanying purchases.

      An FFL charging me $10 for a transfer creates an immense sense of good-will — both in the way the FFL views me and how I view the FFL. I am way, WAY, WAY more likely to engage in additional business with such an FFL. Just look at it this way. Which FFL are you going to visit first when you want to purchase a new (brand X) pistol: the FFL that charged you $50 per transfer for your last three transfers, or the FFL that charged you $15 per transfer for your last three transfers? Furthermore, who cares if that pistol cost an additional $25 at the second FFL since THEY SAVED YOU $105 ON YOUR LAST THREE TRANSFERS compared to the first FFL.

      Having said all that, I was referring to non-NFA transfers. If we are talking about an NFA transfer and your local FFL spends upwards of two to three hours explaining the process, filling out forms, etc., then I can appreciate charging $100 to $200 for that transfer.

  5. I have a home based FFL, and I do $20 transfers for non NFA items. I also don’t touch NFA as a dealer because I don’t have enough customers to make it worth the headache and costs.

    I don’t yet have enough funds for a store. So basically I’m stuck with a choice: waste money on inventory I may or may not move, or keep it to super cheap pricing on custom orders and I make little. I chose the latter for now. Maybe someday I’ll make the jump to a real store, but if I do I’ll make sure that: 1) it’s in a low competition area and 2) the prices are as reasonable as I can make them and stay open.

    • Tim U.,

      Best wishes on your future firearms business!

      Perhaps you can find a way to differentiate yourself from other FFLs in your area and relieve some of the pressure you feel for low pricing. For example there are many FFLs who express subtle resentment toward customers who do anything other than walk in the door, immediately specify the exact model they want, and plunk down cash. Heaven forbid you ask them how they are doing much less ask their opinion of a revolver versus a semi-auto pistol. If your local FFLs fall under that category, you might be stand out for simply being … friendly (Gasp!) to your customers. And that means you might be able to charge slightly more without people fretting over an extra $10 to $50 — depending on the cost of the firearm.

      Depending on your goals and your location, you could also sell ammunition and possibly offer training. Or even offer services as simple as mounting scopes and laser bore-sighting them or attaching sling studs. While mounting and bore-sighting a scope or attaching sling studs is simple, there are plenty of people who are not comfortable doing such things themselves — or who lack the tools to do it.

      In summary, be creative. Again, best wishes.

  6. I pay $12.50 for standard transfers (iowa doesn’t let me have the really fun toys or all forms of hearing protection)

    The guy runs his business out of his basement in addition to his day job. I’ve transferred a number of guns through him and never had an issue. Not sure on if he has a college degree or not, but rest assured as someone who does quite well for themselves, and is part of the unwahsed masses of the non Batchelor degree bearing, it doesn’t mean squat to me if he does or doesn’t. 🙂

    • Basement/garage FFL’s aren’t really “in the business” in my opinion. Sure, they do a $10 transfer, but come on, they have no overhead, payroll, or insurance.
      Hey, FC, thanks for another great article. Was wondering where you had been for a while. Keep up the good work.

      • I know of a group of pawn shops (3 all owned by the same guy) that have a $10 transfer for the 4473 as well. Those are three separate store fronts. I know of another gun shop (not a pawn shop) that charges $15. They’ve all been around awhile so – it works for them.

      • What?

        How is a Dealer in his garage/basement any less of a Dealer with a storefront? So you’re good with a 350-700% markup for a similar service because of cost of overhead?

  7. Interesting article. But in the end I always come around to the bigger question, how did we get here? I mean, in what universe can any of this be construed as not being an ‘infringement’? The next question is, how do we get to where we need to be? As in, there’s no such thing as an FFL because they’re not necessary and ATF has no involvement in lawful business transactions?

    • It isn’t infringement to require all sorts of restrictions on firearm sales. It is called “compelling interest” of a government; the SC says so. Once you cross the threshold of “compelling interest”, you have breached the entire set of rights (enumerated and construed) protected by the constitution. We are well down the “slippery slope”, and it is useless to talk about returning to “original intent”, or even “strict scrutiny”. Best that can happen is preventing any further erosion.

      • Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.
        If nobody floats the idea, it will never happen.
        We need the antis to be the ones hoping for slowing down our progress not the other way around.

        • Agree. Unfortunately, we have almost completely lost the culture wars, the levers of political powers are in the hands of the anti-gun gangs (remember, the Demoncrat majorities in House and Senate control legislation), the left attacks constantly – all along the line; evil never rests. Even if we could stop the slide instantly, the pro-gun movement does not have the stamina to engage in a decades-long uphill fight to overturn the restrictions that already exist, else we would have done it already. There is no happy ending to this. The statists/fascists are running the long con, we are on a long day’s journey into night.

        • And you reckon that by what? Mere counting? Actions say the minority is the majority. Numbers do not tell the story. Republican victories in 2010, 2012, 2014. And it got you what, exactly?

          Chuckie Schumer recently declared how surprised the Demoncrats were that with Repub majorities in both houses, the Demoncrats got everything they wanted in the budget and other legislation.

        • Given that they don’t have a veto-proof majority, the only thing that they can do is what the president agrees to do. And since the intersection of “things willing to do” between Republicans and Democrats has been vanishingly small in the past few years, nothing gets done.

        • Yes, my point, exactly. The original comment was that the good guys had a three vote majority that would ensure the right things would be done. My point is numbers alone tell you nothing.

          BTW, after each recent Republican victory in congress, the freshmen (who had just secured the victories) were told to sit down and shut up; business to be conducted as usual.

          Oh yes, with simple majorities in both houses, the Repubs could have “gone nuclear” and changed the rules to allow for simple majority on every piece of legislation, requiring zero Demoncrats to vote, all to draw a line in the sand. Constantly heard Repubs would suffer for “government shutdowns” but since 1994, Repubs have gained seats despite actual or almost shutdowns.

          Numbers tell you nothing.

        • The most they can do is remove the filibuster rule (but it’s a two-edged sword, because when the House has a Democratic majority again, it’ll work against them – hence why there’s so much hesitation to do it).

          They can’t remove the president’s ability to veto their simple majority votes.

        • The Demoncrats can change the rules whether the Repubs try it or not. The veto rules should not prevent principled legislation.

          BTW, during “government shutdowns” little meaningful service is actually stopped; just sounds scary to the uninformed (which is the majority of the populace).

          Bottom line: according to establishment Repubs, the country must wait until the party controls all three branches to get anything done. However, the Demoncrats get everything they want while out of power. Sounds like, “Heads you lose, Tails you lose”.

        • >> The Demoncrats can change the rules whether the Repubs try it or not. The veto rules should not prevent principled legislation.

          The veto rules are in the Constitution. Section 7:

          “Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

          Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.”

          Are you saying that “principled legislation” should override the Constitution?

        • Saying the legislation should be passed and moved to the president, regardless of veto threat. Legislation does not consist solely of that which is signed by the president. Bills are legislation, legislation sometimes leads to signed law. Either way, legislation is not predicated on the approval of the president. There is no reason to not send bills/legislation to the president for fear of veto.

        • There’s no reason to send them either. They’ve sent, what, over 40 bills to repeal ACA? And they were vetoed 40 times. Doing it once more is a waste of everyone’s time. They’re paid to do useful stuff, not bang their head against the wall for the sake of some purported symbolism. If they can’t pass that one thing, they should work on something else that they actually have a chance to pass. If they can’t think of anything else (and why is that?), well, I hear kitchen for the homeless always need extra hands, and I’m sure there are a few around DC area.

        • “Useful stuff” means whatever the Demoncrat minority (or majority in normal years) wants/allows. Actually, our representatives are not supposed to do anything…other than represent the interests of their constituents. If that means gridlock, so be it. It is the way the government was set up. The notion that “government should work” is pure fiction from progressives. The structure and history of the constitution is to keep a tight rein on what “work” the government embarks on. My take on what you propose is that government “working” is the most important thing government can do. That government is the central element in our lives. That the people somehow must have the government “working” (read “collaborating”) to rule the society. If making a government “work” is the goal, abolish all but the presidency (or just install a monarchy). Governments run by a singular mind “work” better than all other forms. If there is no point in principled legislation, there is no point to Congress; expedience trumps.

        • “Useful stuff” means useful stuff. For example, criminal justice reform. Decriminalizing drugs. Fixing VA so that veterans don’t get shafted. And so on.

          I very much doubt the voters actually want gridlock. They don’t want some specific laws to pass, and they do want other laws to be repealed, but that doesn’t imply that they don’t want any other stuff to happen at all.

          I mean, are you seriously saying that, for example, that piece of legislation to provide financial compensation to 9/11 first responders for their illnesses, which Republicans in the Congress have stalled for years (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Zadroga#Federal_law), is something that Republican voters wanted, just to show Obama how much they hate ACA?

        • There is bad legislation every year, both sides. Not talking about specific bills, but generally railing against the “go along to get along” mindset of the progressives and weak-willed Republicans. If the majority party declares as an overriding principle that there should be no deficit funding, there should be no legislation proposed for deficit spending. If the majority party declares that border security is an overriding principle, there should be legislation specifically authorizing and directing certain steps to increase border security. If the majority party cites a a core value that there should be no government funding of (pick your favorite), then no legislation should be sent to the president funding that whatever thing. If a president refuses to “work with” the opposition majority, then that president should be called to justify a veto and explain it to the represented majority of the electorate. If a president can hold the government hostage to a few favorite issues, and “bring the government to a halt”, that president should be challenged on those very issues. By challenge I do not mean just a one line statement that the president is a bad guy, but wide-spread, loud, frequent press releases pointing-out how the veto represents the crass willfulness of a president to risk the functioning of a government for a prized piece of legacy.

          But this discussion is actually based on something that is not in the constitution, the president’s budget. Congress alone has authority to consider and pass a budget. This notion that the president somehow needs to create his own political spending plan is not envisioned in the founding documents, or the constitution. Congress is supposed to legislate, and the president execute the legislation (unless vetoed). The president is not supposed to “lead” the political direction; that is why we elect representatives and senators. The president is an executive/administrator of the laws of congress and the people, not the champion of one faction or another.

  8. $350 for NFA paperwork? That’s ridiculous. Please tell me no one is actually dumb enough to pay this. I have only read a few of this guy’s articles and in every one he comes across as a grade A dick. Surprised he can actually stay in business with that type of attitude.

    • Well, a friend of mine provided an interesting business insight:

      Suppose Firearms Concierge charges $350 for an NFA transfer and his local competitor charges $50. If Firearms Concierge only gets 1/7th the business as his local competitor, he still makes the same amount of money … and more importantly he spent a lot less time earning it. In other words, it is often better to collect $350 from 1 customer than to collect $50 from 7 customers.

      • Good point. He better hope he keeps those few customers happy though. He loses one or two the guy down the street charging less with more customers has him beat.

      • By charging that much money he also puts in place a barrier to entry that diminishes the chances of dealing with problem customers.

        It’s like restaurants like Chiles or TGIF etc that charge a lot of money for mediocre beer and short poured cocktails that are mostly mixers. Sure some people will sit there and complain that they are paying six pack money for a single beer at a generic restaurant, but if you charge the same price for beer that the local dive does, you also run the risk of having a restaurant full of a bunch of drunks who just came to drink the cheap beer.

        FC could probably stand to tone down some of the condecension, but honestly a lot of his stories are completely spot on. Always enjoyable to read.

    • That was on a frigging machine gun. That $350 isn’t even a rounding error on the price of most transferable MGs these days. I would assume that he charges less for a .22 can.

      • I can agree with this. If the guy is buying a $20,000 machine gun – I think $350 would be acceptable. Certainly not on any silencer or SBR/SBS.

    • I think one point everybody is missing here is that this is $350 for a NFA item that the customer is buying from someone else. I could be wrong but I suspect if buying directly from his shop, the cost of paperwork is much lower. For the consult time, paperwork wrangling, and most importantly the liability of storing a $20k+ item for 6 months or a year or more, $350 doesn’t sound like all that much money.

      • On that same note… its kinda like the difference between a $50 “gun trust” and a trust you talk to an actual attorney to draft and they stand behind it and it cost 6-10x the amount. Sure both will get you a trust (or NFA firearm) but if you have trouble, one is much more likely to be able to take care of you than the other.

        And to the .22 can comment, yeah $350 would be a bit much for that but I could see $100 for an initial purchase and $40-50 for subsequent purchases.

        • Yeah, everyone thinks they are a genius when they save a buck here and there, and the thing is, they look like one too as long as everything goes right. Yet they are the same ones bitching and moaning and calling people names on internet forums when things go south and they have nothing to fall back on because of a lifetime of being a cheapskate.

          We all knew this guy in college, he was the one who fooled around and never used protection, he thought he was a god among men (and a lot of us worshipped him like one) until one day he got that itch that never went away or worse, bought himself an 18yr commitment.

          I haven’t yet started collecting stamps, maybe $350 for a transfer is a lot of money if you are buying a $700 silencer, but in this case the guy is buying a machine gun, depending on what kind that $350 becomes a rounding not issue pretty quick. Again, some guy will always show up at the range with the registered MG that he bought after forming a trust using Quicken or one of those cookie cutter mail order things, and then paid JimBobs Beer Bait and Ammo to transfer for a case of beer, and as long as it shows up 6 months later, good for him. Now suddenly he is the expert on all things NFA transfer related and JimBob gets a bump on Arfcom as the NePlvsUltra of FFLs. Believing that is anything other than pure dumb luck though is a dangerous way of thinking though. There is more than enough evidence to the contrary.

  9. You know, you would actually create a good image with these (really informative!) stories if you just didn’t sound so damn condescending. I mean, it’s oozing from every period in that wall of text. As usual, I didn’t look at the name of the author before starting to read. And as usual, the first paragraph in, I already knew who the author was, and scrolled up to check. Yup, FC.

    You’re smart. Your customers are stupid. I get it. I’m glad I’m not your customer.

    • I’m beginning to think all of FC customers are in fact stupid. You have to be pretty stupid to be spoken down to like your an idiot while simultaneously paying outrageous prices. If FC wants smarter customers – he needs to lower the price and change his attitude, lol.

    • “You know, you would actually create a good image with these (really informative!) stories if you just didn’t sound so damn condescending.”

      You have a point, but in his defense, his years in that business have forged that very attitude.

      I suspect he’s using some creative license in his storytelling and that in person he tones that down a bit. (I *could* be wrong!).

      I’ve seen pretty much the exact same type of customers in the shops I’ve been associated with over the years. For the most part, we smile and take the abuse (and their money) and they’re none the wiser for it. And once they’re out of there…, well, the discussions get colorful.

      Occasionally, there has been a need to terminate the customer – storekeeper relationship in a direct way to the customer’s face. Not nice, but reality…

      • He had pretty much openly said here before that it’s not the way he talks to his customers, actually. But that makes it even worse, arguably. I’d rather do business with someone who’s open about their feelings to me, even if they aren’t nice, than someone who smiles to my face, and when the door closes, runs of to gossip about that idiot who just came to their store.

        • I disagree. I’d rather the guy have a smile on his face while he f’d me.

          Myself, as someone in IT, I can’t be a dick to people at work who constantly screw up their pcs, ask the same inane question 800000000 times, can’t be bothered to read simple instructions, or expect instantaneous response, so the people at home who ask me the innocent and benign computer questions end up getting my wrath reflexively. Is it right? No, but it’s reality. I’ve read above you are a programmer or in an IT field so I’m sure you can understand to some degree.

          In addition to shining a light on the oft unseen by the consumer side of the gun business, I see what FC does as much the same thing . FC is using anonymity and a slightly receptive audience to air his grievances and complaining because doing it to the customers who deserve it will put him out business.

  10. Every business has its good guys and bad guys. You can go to jail or lose a lot of money for selling land improperly, building and airbag that blows up, blah, blah blah.

    A guy once told me doctors get through school because they can memorize a lot of useless facts. After have been treated by a “practicing doctor” he’s right. Many of them are like the rest of the world, nothing special.

    This is a nice advertisement for his company though.

  11. I’ve read a few posts by this guy. I’ve owned a couple of small businesses, and sustainability is definitely important, I can agree with that precept. However, prices are determined by the market, and competition will ultimately determine if his prices are ok. You’d think an arrogant a-hole “college grad” would understand the basic foundations of capitalism… They still teach economics? Elasticity? Supply and demand?

    • They teach all of that in freshmen year of any business curriculum, yes. But please, keep insisting that you don’t need no fancy book learning, after all bill gates dropped out of college!

    • How many Class III items do you own? The man is speaking the truth. Love it or hate it, but you can’t fight it. He helps me in how I interact with my FFL. This attitude of “if it ain’t cheap, then it ain’t the will of God” is ludicrous. The fact that some reject the higher education that he’s giving to them for free, re-inforces his point that some gun owners/FFL holders aren’t the smartest cookie in the box. I don’t blame some CLEO’s for not signing off if this is with whom they are dealing.

      • Hilarious, your raging chub to have someone hold your hand and fill out a form is laughable. There are country bumpkins that can handle a form 1 without your “value added” in overpaying for him to rub your shoulders while giving it to you. Newsflash, or isn’t him entering your Internet purchase into his firearm book, it’s his whipping, sorry shipping boy that’s doing it. But you are paying for his expensive toys so that makes it ok.

  12. I don’t have a college degree. After high school, I joined the Navy for 6 Years. With Navy training as a foundation, I’ve earned a good living without a degree. I also own 4 NFA weapons. The Class 3 dealers with whom I’ve dealt are also vets without college degrees. We manage pretty well with our troglodyte educations.

    I haven’t been reading TTAG very long, but “F” the author of this tripe. Sorry, at least tripe is palatable.

    • College degrees are over rated. I have 3. So what. Means nothing. Too many people like you prove the point.

      If anyone cared to inquire, the whole fascination with college degrees was a reaction to racism. How? It’s a non-biased way to require skills. Started in the 70s when they outlawed “tests” so companies simply said fuck it, college degree required. And they’ve been pumping out graduates ever since. My UG was a joke (and I didn’t realize it until law school).

      And thank you for your service. We appreciate you.

      • I’ve seen the textbooks my parents used in high school in the 1940’s.

        A high school education in the 1940’s was *more* comprehensive than an bachelor’s degree today.

        People are paying $100,000 + for a high school education.

        • Really now? My dad indicated to me that Calculus was a strictly college/university subject when he went to school; I took it in high school. In uni I studied things to a breadth and depth that was never approached in any high school.

          But, then, I liked learning things (though not doing homework, so much); both high school and university were what I made them. I graduated with plenty of people that I feel may as well have just joined the workforce straight out of high school for all the continued education did them.

          I have met plenty of people who have made as much from trade school, or even just determined on the job learning, as I have from my university. When it comes down to it, it isn’t the piece of paper that indicates preparedness for any given challenge, but the mind.

  13. $350…. Three Hundred and Fifty Dollars? As in U.S Dollars? That’s nutts.

    I have a college degree and I’d no sooner give you or anyone like you $350 dollars to put pen to paper for any transaction.
    You are an unethical business person with ignorance to put yourself out there for this community to ridicule. I thank God you don’t own the rights to a life saving AIDS medicine.

    • Should life saving medicine be free? There is a reason things cost certain amounts. Do you understand capitalism? OTOH, Is your life worth $5,000? $10,000? Or, do you support socialized Obamacare where we all have to pay for your bad life choices?
      How will FC put shoes on the baby if he gives his time and knowledge away? Life isn’t an iPhone app with ads, friend.

        • The 55x ramped-up cost on a drug that’s been out on the market for 50 years had nothing to do with economics. Just someone trying to cash in quickly on the grief of other people who can’t skip a pill, before someone else enters the market and starts selling it under a reasonable price again (since it takes time to start selling a different drug, even if it’s the same compound under a different name).

      • Ah? It’s a economics lesson you’re giving, I see.

        How will FC put shoes on this hypothetical well shoed baby you ask? By bilking people like you into believing he can do something you cannot.

        Well David rational people think at the margin and the cost of something is what you are willing to give up to get that ‘it’ you desire so much. Its a trade off; my hard earned money for his service. Well guess what the majority here agrees, the ‘it’ is not worth it. But you go ahead and spend your hard earned dollars wherever you like little buddy because you live in America. God bless you David because you reminded me tonight why I don’t comment anymore.

        • You don’t comment here because somebody disagreed with you? Chin up, buttercup, nobody is personally attacking you. I just appreciate FC view into the business side of guns. Do you get upset and not comment when somebody hates on Hi-Point too?

      • Capitalism (with a side of Karma) came through on that guy, P.

        A compounding pharmacy announced they will provide it for *one* dollar a dose for those without insurance…

        “$750-per-pill AIDS drug now has $1 competition: Pharmaceutical company offers alternative to price-hiked medication offered by controversial entrepreneur.”

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3285739/Pharmaceutical-company-offers-alternative-price-hiked-750-AIDS-medication-selling-drug-just-1-pill.html

      • I appreciate FC’s perspective, but I agree with Mick. Just read Rabbi’s comments below – pretty much covers it.

  14. Lets examine this for a bit; If he specializes in transfers of papered machine guns, then he could easily have a market. One of the cheapest transferable machine guns is a MAC-10, and based on what I’ve read they can run in the $5K range. An M16 can supposedly be in the $25K range, and if you have something rare or super collectible I’d think even higher potentially. If we look at $350, it’s less than 2-10% of the total cost of the purchase. If some one has $25K to drop on an M-16 a few more bucks for the transfer is something they won’t likely care about, and having someone who will handle as much as possible is likely more appealing. If I were to fit it into a category, it’s probably the “more money than sense” custies. It’s also possible that he doesn’t come off this way in real life and part of it is he needs someone to proof read his writing for arrogance but you never know. I certainly wouldn’t drop $350 based on this article.

  15. $350…. Three Hundred and Fifty Dollars? As in U.S Dollars? That’s nutts.

    I have a college degree and I’d no sooner give you or anyone like you $350 dollars to put pen to paper for any transaction.
    You are an unethical business person with the ignorance to put yourself out there for this community to ridicule. I thank God you don’t own the rights to a life saving AIDS medicine.

  16. That’s the longest diatribe on nada.

    $350 on a transfer? C’mon. You already made money on the sale. That’s simply unreasonable.

  17. Before I had my FFL/SOT, I did business with dealers who treated me well when it came to the cost of transfers. That’s where I bought ammo and guns. Any store that charged more never saw my face. I would laugh at $350 for a NFA transfer.

    One local store charged $50 plus 10% of the firearm cost for transfers because he said he wanted customers to buy from him not online. Funny thing though, he had dozens of guns online so other dealers could do transfers from him. Guess how much I spent in his store??

  18. At the GSA mileage rate of $.575/mi, someone would be financially equal driving 260 miles to any other FFL/SOT in the state and paying them $50 for the transfer rather rely on a scoundrel rip-off artist like yourself. I’ve used the same LOCAL SOT who is super reliable and nice and does transfers for $50. I would’ve driven half way across the state just to avoid a pissant dealer like you and I hope you go out of business with your astronomical prices. No room for arrogance and rip-offs in this community.

  19. Remember what I said about college graduates not being in the firearm industry? A few customers should head down to the junior college too in FC’s America. I digress…

    Lol. You got that everyone??? Go to college you idiots. Lol.

  20. “college degree”

    if that was the gold standard, every college ball player who cant barely sign their name and is broke after seven years in the NFL making 5 million a year, would not be realizing the outcomes that are so common.

    if someone is doing 20 buck transfers, it falls into two categories-
    Additional income related to a business that primarily sells firearms that it stocks,
    Home FFL’s who have no overhead or lease payments.

    In either case for a standard semi auto firearm, you only need the dealer to stay in business for as long as it takes to fulfill receipt of the purchased item.

    Obviously, NFA items are a totally different species, and governed by much longer term issues relating to transfer, however I would not remotely consider paying someone 350 in transfer fees considering the avg silencer is not going to actually cost that much.

    I think the article sounds to me like a long winded and fairly nonsensical case attempting to justify insane transfer fees, that those with even the slightest concept of what is involved would walk out the door after such a quote, by scare mongering about “HURRRR DURRR they might go out of business – and they dont have a college degree like I do !”

    I would not by a NFA item unless its transferred by the company I purchase it from. That said, I HAVE ZERO interest in buying any NFA items or dealing with the tax stamp approval. Given the time frames that can be involved, ANY business can be out of business or have their FFL status rescinded or revoked by the time the transfer can be consumated. No one is immune due to their degree or past business practices.

    Obviously, the length of time a FFL is in business at one location is generally a good sign, but offers no guarantee, and ANY business whether a fully stocked local shop or a basement FFL home dealer, that economically shuts down is going to be like any other bankrupt entity that has to deal with its creditors within the court process or reogranization process.

    Since no one is immune, and anyone can decide to close down, or can have their FFL taken away-
    all it would take is some high profile shooting leading to a scrutinizing of FFL records by those seeking to find a scapegoat-

    No one knows what six months from now will hold, within or without of the FFL arena. The entire article seems like nothing but a scattershot self-serving attempted justification of insane fees. Not only does it fail to make a coherent case, but most of its points are irrelevant or do not sound like much of a case.

    If you can find a constant customer base that will pay a premium or wants a ‘special’ AR CNC engraved with “Purple Parka” LLC and its flying burrito logo’ed ‘special forces’ approved semi auto wunder carbine, and is willing to pay 3x the rate for it, its their money and their choice, but trying to convince everyone that you and your community college degree are the ‘elite’ rank of FFL with tons of experience no one else has and only you can be trusted over the long term and are not evAR going out of business no matter the apocalypse etc..

    That I hope no one is buying.

  21. I guess RF owns stock in this college professor’s gun shop. Booooo! No more advertisements for ego-inflated poindexters. There are plenty of savvy non-degreed business owners out there. Plenty of college-educated crooks as well. ” Let me tell you why you want smart guy like me to ……….”

  22. Absolutely the worst contributor to TTAG. Why they let this guy keep posting is beyond me. Arrogant, condescending know-it-all. Constantly trying to justify a business model that went out years ago. “Pay me more because somehow I add value. Here’s a scary story about something that went wrong one time somewhere. Now pay me more and beg for me to do business with you.”

    The last guy in the world I’d use for any firearms-related transaction. I look forward to the day dinosaurs like this are finally extinct.

    And this from a guy with a post-graduate degree. Guess that gives me all the street cred I need.

    • I admit to being the being the dullest knife in the drawer…but I don’t understand the controversy. If I, a noob with no NFA experience (I don’t do NFA because it is TOO complicated, and leaves a paper trail not authorized the the constitution). I find a nifty-neato whizbang NFA controlled firearm (like a mint condition, original MA Duce) that I must spend my lottery winnings on. What is the problem with going to an “expert” FFL who specializes in automatic weapons, and asking that FFL to take the time and effort to make sure all the paperwork is correctly filled and correctly filed? Given my ignorance, if the FFL is reliable and has a good reputation, why would I not agree to hire his/her expertise just like any other consultant? I don’t ask HR Block to do my taxes free (even though I can do them for free). Why would I not pay the FFL a consulting fee (if you like) to make sure the transaction goes smoothly?

      • No one said FFLs should do it for free, but the normal NFA transfer fee around here, by very experienced NFA FFLs, is between $75-$100 MAX. Some are less. Paying $350 doesn’t guarantee good service any more than paying $20 guarantees bad service.

        FC has shown his bias previously, and does so again above where he says “One thing that dealers (including myself) have learned over the years: doing $20 transfers is not a sustainable business model” Really? Not around here, where they’re thriving with $20 transfer fees.

        And, did I mention the arrogant prick part? Thank God he’s part of a dying breed. Die faster, please.

  23. > Doing $20 transfers is not a sustainable business model, much less $20 transfers that encompass NFA items.

    That’s cute. I charge $20 and make a ton of money doing them. 10-15 transfers per day and it takes maybe 2 manhours . If you’re spending more than 2 minutes on an acquisition and 5 minutes on disposition, your process is garbage.

    $350 for an NFA transfer has to be a joke. There is no way any sane person would even charge half that much. I don’t know a single SOT that charges more than $100 for an incoming NFA transfer.

  24. Bingo! I didn’t bother wading through this diatribe. Suffice to say 100 comments is the goal/clickbait. Hey I’m not a GUN dealer but I’m a dealer. If I acted like FC I would be outa’ business.

  25. This guy is the epitome of everything wrong with many gun store owners. Why are articles by this ass clown even posted on here?

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