ATF eForms Plagued by “Severe Performance Issues”

ATF (courtesy

I’m clearing out my inbox this AM. (If I failed to reply to an important email please send it again.) I found this little gem from a regular reader. It’s dated the 24th of January – an eon in Internet time – but timely nonetheless. In the sense that the antis are still rabbiting on about Universal Background Checks. You know, creating a national database of all gun purchases and transfers; ’cause that’s the only way that system would work. Of course, it wouldn’t work. Exactly . . .

Good morning:

Pardon this Interruption!!!

ATF eForms has been experiencing some severe performance issues for the past week.  Some of the symptoms the users are experiencing include slow response times, inability to finalize and submit forms, screen not displaying, inability to view PDF’s, and the system abruptly returning the user back to the home screen. While some users report that they are able to successfully submit forms, others are reporting that they are not . . .

While our technology staff has been actively engaged in trying to resolve the issues, up to this point our efforts have not been successful.  We apologize for your inconvenience and your frustration.

We are hoping that we will be able to bring the eForms system back to its full operating capacity soon.  Once the operations have been restored and you find that you have form 1’s and form 4’s in your draft account that you cannot get submitted and you have paid your tax using, please notify us using “Ask the Experts – NFA” and include the confirmation information that you received from (that includes the Tracking ID).  Refunds are normally processed within 10 business day.

We are not taking this lightly. We assure you that we are doing all that can be done to come to resolve the issues.  We request your patience and understanding while we work this out.

Thank you.


Lenora (Lee) Alston-Williams
Industry Liasion Analyst – IT
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives
Office of Enforcement Programs and Services
Firearms and Explosives Services Division
99 New York Avenue, N.E. (6.E-333)
Washington, DC 20226


  1. avatar MW says:

    I have successfully submitted a form 1 and my dealer a form 4 using the system in the last 30 days.

  2. avatar BTinAfghan says:

    Once again government fails where private sector excels.

    1. avatar Pascal says:

      One of the issue is people like myself in IT would never want or care to work for the .gov. There is too much BS. Even those who do apply, it could take up to three months for them to get back to you. Then you have to work for a union and training is nonexistent. In many cases, you become an expert in using legacy software — who wants that? Because of this, and other issues, many good, knowledgeable people want nothing to do with .gov. Thus, you will always have crappy .gov IT.

      1. avatar Jeff says:

        so you’re saying you don’t want to program .gov stuff to run on Perl and aging installations of Solaris/AIX/HP-UX? geez what’s wrong with you?

        breaking news: Obamacare site just rolled out with additional functionality for Gopher!

        1. avatar KCK says:

          You must be old like me to slip that one by us.

  3. avatar Excedrine says:

    Oh, of course it’s having “performance issues” and wait times are going to up all over again. No. Can’t have any kind of convenience with a rogue and Unconstitutional agency that plays by nobody’s rules (not even its own).

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      NFA Branch are generally, generally pretty good people. I realize they work for an “evil government agency” or whatever, but the folks in the trenches there seem to try to do a good job for us within the bounds of the rules as they’re written.

      1. avatar Excedrine says:

        Good people generally, perhaps.. until they aren’t.

  4. avatar jirdesteva says:

    The govment screwed up a web site again. NNNOOOOOOOOOOO impossible it can’t possibly happen to the govment. The people running this are related to the same people who made the healthcare site.

    1. avatar Steve Costa says:

      All inbreeders are related.

      1. avatar jirdesteva says:

        Yeah, all a$$holes are relative was my thought exactly.

  5. avatar CarlosT says:

    Feature, not bug. Oh, people can’t complete their NFA paperwork? We’re really concerned. We get it fixed right away!

  6. avatar William Burke says:

    It is the considered opinion of many IT people that is not designed to work at all, but to mine data.

    1. avatar CarlosT says:

      There would be nothing preventing it from doing both. In fact, it would be better for mining data if it did work.

      Facebook is a huge data mining operation and it gets to do so because people actually use it. If people could actually use there would be that much more data available.

      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        Facebook: If you can’t identify the product being sold, you are the product being sold.

    2. avatar Model 31 says:

      Its best use will be in the form of a voter outreach database.

  7. avatar crashbbear says:

    methinks this requires tin foil hat wearing examination…well, that would be a fun read anyway.

  8. avatar rawmade says:

    So basically an untold amount of people will have their $200+ held for up to 10 days. Thats cool.

  9. avatar MojoRonin says:

    Performance issues. Giggity

  10. avatar m11nine says:

    Even if its from the 24th its still a week ahead of NRA news..Those guys are so far behind this site its a joke.

    I think they must focus-group everything before they allow the little people of the membership to see it.

  11. avatar mark_anthony_78 says:

    What do you expect from an agency that can’t even standardize the color and font size on their jackets?

  12. avatar PvD says:

    I think that you have to look at those that are covered in the system now, not the ones who cant sign up. They are on track for the WH goals on form approval…

  13. avatar Jus Bill says:

    Has anyone heard when they plan to migrate from MS-DOS?

    1. avatar the ruester says:

      As soon as they figure out how to install Doom 2, windows 98 look out!

  14. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    We have the capability to make universal background checks work, and to make them not suck.

    FYI, there’s nothing unconstitutional about a background check. Via due process the free exercise of certain rights may be curtailed – the right to bear arms, free travel or assembly, even the right to breathe. Further, nowhere is a hassle-free purchase guaranteed, although following purchase the bearing and keeping part supposedly is.

    Anyway, a system with a functioning, accurate database is actually doable. Not like or the Keep America from Voting Act, in which if there’s a 34 year old felon named Tyrell Jackson in Mississippi, no 34 year old Tyrell Jackson may vote there – which was of course the whole idea behind that POS bit of legislation.

    Were there the drive and intent present, anyone could punch my vitals into a website and get an instant Yea or Nae. No need to know the seller or weapon specifics and no record of the transaction apart from that a Yea or Nae was issued and a passphrase known only to the seller, and that accessible only via court order.

    The purpose of that record, not even proving that a weapon actually changed hands or who sold what, would be useable only to indemnify the seller should I buy a gun, rob a bank and it be traced back to the one who sold it to me.

    Further, were someone to attempt to use that record to build a confiscation list, they’d have one Hell of a time determining what I have, from whom I got it or what they still have. For that, it’d be basically useless.

    Again, I say that we could do this, were the agenda actually a [possible] reduction in crime.

    Pity that preventing crime has naught to do with it.

    1. avatar Jeff says:

      And apropos to this article, I remember making the “compromise” offer several times (mostly as testing the waters) that maybe gun owners could be OK with UBCs if the NFA was dismantled, and SBRs, SBSes, suppressors, and FAs allowed back into private ownership with no strings attached.

      Nobody ever took the offer.. Which more or less indicates that nobody *really* thinks UBCs are actually going to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. It’s just another brick in the wall, in which the NFA is another brick that nobody has the intention of ever pulling out.

      The biggest problem the ATF has with the NFA is making the process so cumbersome that people who live in certain places, and who may be able to get away with doing so, simply build their NFA firearm and don’t tell the ATF about it. I have to admit, if I lived way out in BFE Montana or Wyoming, the thought would be tempting, but, I don’t.

      1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

        Or that the Roaring ’20s might come back, and that UBC wouldn’t be a fair trade for that.

        I doubt that dismantling NFA would bring back the Chicago Mobs, but I don’t make the rules.

        My points merely were that UBC needn’t equate to a requirement for universal registration, and that while the Powers that Be are not entirely inimical, neither are they any friends of an armed populace.

        Not pleasing. Not at all. No siree.

        1. avatar tfunk says:

          How does UBC not need registration? And how is a background check not unconstitutional?

        2. avatar Russ Bixby says:

          Read the original post.

        3. avatar Jeff says:

          “Or that the Roaring ’20s might come back, and that UBC wouldn’t be a fair trade for that.”

          So you’re saying that people who use guns to commit crimes can’t already saw off a rifle or shotgun barrel in five minutes?

          I’m talking about THE REST OF US being able to do so, or buying those types of firearms direct-from-factory, without being sent to prison because of stupid depression-era legislation.

        4. avatar Russ Bixby says:

          Not at all! I’m just guessing at the “thinking” of those who spurned the proposed deal – scrap the NFA in exchange for UBC.

          My belief is that NFA, while it helped level the playing field at the time, should’ve died after a couple years. It was like declaring martial law, and nothing which should have continued past the crisis which spawned it.

    2. avatar Pulatso says:

      The main problem with a UBC and due process is that the same people who want a UBC to supress the 2A have no problem passing laws that ignore the 4A to do it.

      1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

        Absolutely correct, hence my last sentence.

        We are sliding down an ever-steepening incline with Government Issue pungi stakes at the bottom.

    3. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      Edit: While a background check presupposes guilt, and thus is onerous, it is still Constitutional.

      Arrest based on a general description also presupposes guilt, even though the trial process does not.

      In the case of BC, so long as one has an unambiguous and reliable means by which to prove their unencumbered status in a timely manner, the requirement of Constitutionality is met.

      1. avatar Rich Grise says:

        Please go read the Constitution
        before you do any more trolling, thanks.

    4. avatar Rich Grise says:

      “there’s nothing unconstitutional about a background check”

      Except for the inconvenient fact that The Right Of The People To Keep And Bear Arms Shall Not Be Infringed.

      1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

        Re-read what I wrote up top. While we might disagree on some fine points, I believe that you know me to be no troll.

        Not that I approve of BC – at least as implemented – but I’m forced to recognise its legality. Basically, it’s a fourth Ammendment matter and falls within the purview of reasonable search. That’s the theory, anyway, and it’s been upheld several times.

        Denying a purchase falls within the framework of curtailment of the free exercise of one or more rights through due process.

        1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

          Caveat: the final arbiter of constitutionality is, I fear, not absolute: SCOTUS.

          Their composition changes, and thus so do their positions.

          BC is about as grey as things get, and is interpreted as acceptable for now, as is (laughably) NFA.

          This could change, just like campaign finance did a couple years back.

          I’m just calling it as it is – right now.

        2. avatar Rich Grise says:

          “Not that I approve of BC – at least as implemented – but I’m forced to recognise its legality.”

          There’s where you’re wrong. A background check is NOT legal, because the 2nd Amendment expressly forbids infringement on the People’s God-given, natural, human right to keep and bear arms.

          And I don’t know if you need a dictionary, but being required to jump through Der Fuehrer’s hoops is an infringement.

  15. avatar Rich Grise says:

    Doesn’t anybody remember, the USA was supposed to have a document that prohibited this kind of infringement on our God-given, natural rights? You know, that dusty old Constitution thing?

  16. avatar MiketheHopsFarmer says:

    One of the best aspects of eForms is that its programmed for Explorer 7 only. I have to use an old laptop of mine that I never use to submit my form 1 in November. I tried to access it with my work-a-day computer and the ATF website shiat itself. Brand new web portal, but written in 4 year old software. What a fiscal waste of effort!

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      IE-specific – for any version – is e-vil, like the fru-it of the De-vil.

      There is no excuse on God’s Green for making any portal that’s not open and W3C-compliant.

      Not everyone is a thrice-cursed Gates Groupie.

      ‘Course, older revs of IE spread their legs for every unknown nobody on the ‘net, and are thus a great way for “them” to trace “us,” but that after all is the point.

    2. avatar MiketheHopsFarmer says:

      And to make it even better, no support for Chrome or Firefox. Just IE7. Your tax dollars at work, or not if you don’t have an old computer!

      1. avatar Mud says:

        Someone is tech challenged. I have done multiple form1s on efile using Chrome 25+

    3. avatar Gordy says:

      There is no excuse for writing something even OS specific (much less browser specific) other than very low level functions. The whole point of the WWW was to be OS neutral so that everyone can access the information no matter what OS or browser they are using. Even many low level functions can be written in a neutral form to allow for easy porting to something different. What a bunch of hacks!

  17. avatar KingSarc48265 says:

    It reads more like a satire of the Obamacare website issues with an NFA twist. Is this genuine? I’m happy that I got the joke if it isnt.

  18. avatar Ralph says:

    Performance issues? I think there’s a pill for that.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      If only it could help with “electile” dysfunction…

  19. avatar RickP says:

    Screwed up performance or not, a buddy got his form submitted electronically and got his stamp in three months. Mine was put in earlier using the paper method and I’m 5 months in to what is expected to be at least a 9 month wait. Crapola.

      1. avatar Mud says:

        Something like 95 days for my last Form 1 via the internets. When eforms is actually available, its a pretty simple process. even takes your credit card over the interwebs.

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