ATF Hires Wave of New Employees for NFA Branch, Wait Times Expected to Decrease


Wait times for NFA paperwork are getting ridiculous. When I applied for my first tax stamp, the wait time from submission to reciept was almost exactly 7 months. A year later, the wait time was the same for my SBR. But now, reports are coming in that the forms submitted today will be approved in approximately 15 months from the date of receipt. In short, there’s nothing short about it. And thanks to the way the NFA branch was funded, there were no new hires coming on board at the time. A while back we posted an update about some new hirings at the NFA branch that was giving us some hope that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and tonight we have more good news. . .

We had initially reported that eight new examiners were being hired (nine total, minus one to replace Sarah Jones), but it looks like that number has increased to 15. There are also reportedly eight specialists coming on board, and two section chiefs.

There’s some mixed results of this hiring. The new examiners will definitely add more bandwidth to the system and allow them to process a higher volume of the 60,000+ applications that are piled up, but they will be inexperienced and therefore it will take some time for them to be trained and “ramp up” to meet the demand.

At the end of the day, what this means is that the ATF is seeing the increase in NFA applications and assigning headcount to address the backlog, but it will still be many months before they even make a dent in the waiting period. The ATF is currently fighting a losing battle, as more and more people send in their paperwork for NFA items and the same tired set of examiners are expected to do more and more work. With the new wave of examiners hopefully the tide will turn and they’ll start to make progress, but it will still be some time before they make progress. I’d expect that applications submitted today will still take a long time, but starting sometime in Q2 of next year we should see progress.


  1. avatar ST says:

    Anyone wanna bet that the wait times will mysteriously drop once Obama is out of office?

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Not if he’s replaced by Hillary.

      1. avatar Blue says:

        People need to take beating this Wicked Witch of the East very seriously.

        1. avatar neiowa says:

          Hardly the dimocraps rejected that old witch in 08. She is dead. dem nominee will be Chris Christie.

    2. I’ll take that bet. I can’t believe we are clamoring at the trough for a 6 month wait to pay to give up our privacy to get permission to do what we had a right to do via birth. Stop rooting for federal hires at the ATF and start cheering for Liberty!!!

      1. avatar John in Ohio says:

        Yep. Wait times should be zero since the restrictions ought not be there in the first place.

  2. avatar BDub says:

    A right delayed….

    I’m tempted to put in for a suppressor and an SBR, just so I can contribute to the mountain of paperwork that surely will be that agency’s doom in court one day.

    Seriously, is their any justification for why this process couldn’t work as fast as an instant background check?

    1. There is no right to possess NFA firearms.

      1. avatar chuck (slave to nj) says:

        Where does it say that in the 2A? Because its definitley not a stretch to believe NFA items qualify as arms.

      2. avatar pwrserge says:

        So SBRs are not in common use for lawful purposes? (Heller test.) Please go tell the Army that their M4s constitute “unusual” weapons. (Also happens to pass the Miller test.)

        1. avatar Jay1987 says:

          Army, Airforce, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, National Guards ( Air and Army), Reserves, FBI, CIA, ATF, DEA, NSA, Secret Service, State Police, County Sheriffs, City Cops, EPA, IRS, DHS, CBP, and ICE…Boy for being un common a lot of folks use em…

      3. avatar Howdy says:

        The best way to solve the problem is get rid of the ATF and repeal any NFA anything.
        It’s a win/win.

        Smaller government
        Fewer government salaries to be paid
        Less government intrusion into American’s lives
        Boosts in the economy because no more tax stamps
        More sales in threaded barrels, silencers/suppressors, short barrels
        More competition in the market
        No background checks

        Oh and it costs nothing to implement.

        Where’s the downside for Americans?

        1. avatar John in Ohio says:

          I agree with you. The downside for Americans is that many Americans are afraid of the risks and responsibilities of freedom. Until they accept the risks that come with Liberty; they’ll not accept common sense freedom. In other words, many are downright too afraid to be free!

      4. avatar John in Ohio says:

        That’s one of the few points I disagree with you, Leonard Embody.

        1. Well, cite any court decision which says NFA weapons are protected by the 2a.
          I know of none.
          Many states ban the possession of such weapons.
          I filed a lawsuit concerning NFA weapons and lost because there is no right to possess them.
          Also, I was arrested and am currently out in bond because I dared carry a silencer which is registered to me and in a locked case.
          Others have been arrested for illegal possession. It is not a right if possession is illegal.
          So, no NFA weapons are not included in the 2a.

        2. avatar John in Ohio says:

          Well, we won’t get into Judicial Review and the usurpation of power by the Supreme Court here on a TTAG comments section. NFA is an infringement on the right to keep and bear arms; a clear one at that. I have followed some of your battles. We’ll have to agree to disagree about NFA and the 2A.

        3. avatar Jack says:

          @Leonard Embody, 1st it’s sad how you subjectify yourself as a slave to your government masters.
          2nd our constitution is a charter of negative rights and liberties for government. Or for you to understand, here in America if it’s not explicitly stated as illegal then it’s legal. So the fact that it’s not mentioned in the 2nd Amendment means that it’s legal and covered. But as a democrat I can understand your incapability to comprehend this. To clarify, in slave states such as the socialist/communist nations you support like Europe that have the opposite view of rights. To them Government grants you rights, liberty, and freedoms. So to them everything is illegal until there is a law legalizing it. Hope this helps.

      5. avatar John Rambo says:

        Oh look we have a federal slave here to tell us what our rights are ordained by Obama.

    2. Yes. The justification is the feds don’t want you to have these items and will do whatever they can to gum up the works to make it difficult until they can tell you NO to your face. This is tyranny and oppression via progression. If you want sny hope if this being fixed for good, start being a man of character and a champion of liberty.

      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        I wish I had the disposable income to afford to lock up a grand or so without expecting anything in return for 18 months.

        1. avatar BlinkyPete says:

          I was just thinking about that. It makes making your own SBR, rather than buying one, make a lot more sense. At least then you can enjoy your pistol or rifle while you wait.

        2. avatar Blue says:

          I know the feeling. I was looking at a CMMG SBR .300 Blackout.

        3. avatar ChainsawWieldingManiac says:

          I’ve done it repeatedly. It’s a lot easier with form 4s, because the item in question is out of sight and thus out of mind. It’s rather maddening with form 1s, because you’ve got the gun right in front of you. I’ve got way more tied up in form 4s right now, yet that AMD-65 on a form 1 is what I hope to see a stamp for in the mail every day…

    3. avatar Tom says:

      A right delayed is a right denied.

      Martin Luther King, Jr.

      Repeal the NFA!

  3. avatar Matt in FL says:

    This gives me hope, I think. It’s still beyond ridiculous that this is even an issue.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Here, have some more hope. Feel free to take all you like. I bought a TON of it from the Obama camp. Free.

      1. avatar Ing says:

        You bought it for free? Obama’s America truly is a wonderful place.

      2. avatar Rambeast says:

        He stole that hope from someone else…

      3. avatar B says:

        Hope redistribution! The white man has had hope for far too long, time to take some of it away and give it to the less fortunate people of color, even though poverty knows no race. Just disgusting.

  4. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

    15 people service all 320+ million possible people, I think it would be hilarious if all 5 million NRA members requested a tax stamp all at once…

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      Or if 5 million all at once refused to allow their right to be taxed; keeping and bearing such arms without being infringed. 😉

  5. avatar Steve says:

    My class 3 dealer told me in the spring that they were hiring several part timers to speed up the wait time. Funny how long it took for this to catch up.

  6. avatar David PA/NJ says:

    I checked, it’s not April 1st today. Weird.

    1. avatar Sixpack70 says:

      I said the same thing. I really need to get a Krink kit for Christmas, so I can enjoy it next Christmas.

  7. avatar Ike says:

    Don’t forget that the new employees have to coordinate with all the other employees, which might make wait times still longer…. (The coordination may be by the water cooler….) Then there’s time off for training, and advanced training, team building seminars, diversity training, EEO training, and more…. and there’s time off for gay pride day…(really! Did I miss anything?

    1. avatar Rambeast says:

      Sensitivity training, insurance benefits seminar, and lots of other orientation activities. Every federal holiday, vacation time, sick days…state and federal positions don’t pay top dollar, but the perks are a lazy person’s dream.

  8. avatar William Burke says:

    “Wait Times Expected to Decrease”

    Nick, you should take up stand-up comedy.

  9. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Hey, wait a cotton pickin’ minute. Didn’t TTAG post a similar article on April 1st that was an April Fool’s joke? Is this an April Fool’s joke in October?

    1. avatar Nick Leghorn says:

      Nope. It’s actually happening this time.

  10. avatar NYC2AZ says:

    The gun community doing what ‘the stimulus’ couldn’t; create actual full time jobs that cost less than $1,000,000 each.

    1. avatar dsreno says:

      And they will pay for themselves (and a bunch more) with all of the taxes they send to the coffers.

  11. avatar pwrserge says:

    My position, is that since it’s a tax issue, the second the check is cashed is the second you have met your legal obligations… Not that I’d risk club fed time on it, but the fact is that the sole premise on which they can charge you is de-facto tax evasion. (Since the NFA does not actually BAN possession of firearms.)

    1. avatar BlinkyPete says:

      Okay, but I feel inclined to tell you that I’m guessing prosecutors, judges and juries will not agree with you, so I wouldn’t go sharing that around. Frankly, if you’re going to the trouble of going through the process, just wait for the damn tax stamp. There’s no room for half measures when it comes to committing federal crimes.

      1. avatar pwrserge says:

        It would be an interesting case… Like I said… Not something I’d bet time on, but I’d like to see it argued.

        1. avatar BlinkyPete says:

          I’m not sure what your legal question is. The issuance of the tax stamp, and I believe your possession of it is what gives you the right (in the context of this law) to possess/build the NFA item. Their acceptance of your money has nothing to do with it.

        2. avatar pwrserge says:

          The issue is that the underlying justification for the “crime” is tax evasion. A cashed check is prema facia exculpatory evidence. Like I said… Interesting.

        3. avatar BlinkyPete says:

          I guess I just don’t get it; but I agree, it would be interesting, so long as it isn’t me.

  12. avatar Morgan Gatorsee says:

    Mailed out my application on the 17th and looked at my bank account to see the check was cashed yesterday. I thought my wait time was still around 6 months. Bummed to see this news 🙁

  13. avatar BlinkyPete says:

    So I scrolled through to try and avoid double posting, but forgive me if someone already asked this question and I missed it.

    Nick – what are your thoughts on the relation of this move to the potential changes coming to the handling of Gun Trusts. I think the official decision comes in early December, right? Could this be in anticipation of more drawn out process for more applications, since all of them will now require fingerprints and background checks, and potentially for multiple people per item?

  14. avatar Chris c says:


    It could mean the exact opposite. That they might go the other way and reduce requirements, thus more forms are filed and more examiners are going to be needed. Or is that just my wishful thinking?

    1. avatar BlinkyPete says:

      I mean, maybe I’m just being a pessimist since I have no actual experience here, but my thinking is that registering NFA items to trusts or corporations doesn’t involve going over CLEO signatures, fingerprints and background checks. When you throw those into the mix for far more transactions (apparently 39k last year) I feel like you’re going to need lots more people.

      Just my thinking.

  15. avatar jwm says:

    Wait a minute. I thought we at TTAG were against expanding government? More supervisors for how many employees? Taking my tax dollars to pay for a service I can’t use. Wrong, wrong says I.

    1. avatar akira says:

      That notion of small government does not refer to the total number of government employees, out refers to the scope of the governments power.

      The real “small government” solution to the nfa backlog would be to eliminate the nfa entirely, as it infringes on peoples rights and does not serve any public interest.

  16. avatar Danny says:

    Maybe they should amend the NFA so that you don’t need a tax stamp for SBR’s or suppressors.

    1. avatar Rambeast says:

      You take money out of the government trough. That idea won’t fly.

  17. avatar ensitue says:

    10-1 those employees will mysteriously end-up working on ObamaCare and spying on Tea Partyers

  18. avatar Southern Cross says:

    You have to remember that F-Troop are another government bureaucracy, so adding more resources will not make any improvements. Like my local favourite agency Centrelink, “never before will so much effort be devoted to doing so little”.

  19. To think these folks care about reducing wait time is hilarious.

  20. avatar B says:

    Applied for a silencer and SBR construction back in August. Silencer got cashed a while back so just waiting for it to clear through, but the SBR money order hasn’t had any status updates on the USPS website. Kind of annoyed having to use my 300BLK as a pistol. Is the office that does SBR’s slower than the silencer division? I know they are in different states, but I hear silencers get through much faster.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      It is, or was prior to this news, the exact same people. If they were filed in the same state, it’s the same examiner.

    2. avatar Andy says:

      Go get one of those SIG arm braces… Can be a shoulder thing that goes up in effect if not name AND legal until your stamp comes thru…

    3. avatar B says:

      For some reason I thought form 1 and form 4’s went to different places, like one is West Virginia and the other is Atlanta, Georgia. Got a YHM 7.62 Phantom LT on order from Silencershop. Its odd cause the check for it got cashed like a month later. Finally gave in and called the NFA office, got a sweet sweet pending status on the SBR so I’m just stuck in the normal queue. I thought about the Sig arm band thing, but honestly there’s no point. Add $60 to its price and you have a tax stamp. Texas is a relatively free state and I want want me a silenced 300BLK SBR for hog slaying and general hunting. With the suppressor attached it will be just about the same length as a 16″ AR, and should be nice and light since I will be running iron sights.

  21. avatar R T says:

    I had 2 go pending 08/17 and one 09/30. 15 months would be a serious kick to the nuts.

  22. avatar C says:

    I could almost live with the $200 if the turn around on the forms was later that day.

  23. avatar Danny D says:

    I applied (E-FORM) for my SBR 9/7/13 and got it back today! That’s 3 months and 3 days, Kids. And I was able to print it at home. I hope this speed is not a fluke. (as I have others pending).

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Very nice to hear.

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