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.