A few years back the ATF issued a proposed change to the way they process paperwork for items regulated under the National Firearms Act. That proposal — 41P — was heavily opposed by just about everyone in the firearms industry and as a result nearly 10,000 comments were submitted during the comment period. While the government can ignore the content of these comments, they are required to read each and every last one before making their rule official. That process has taken since the comment period closed December 9th, 2013. Two years later it looks like the ATF is finally ready to make their rule official, and that means now is the time to submit your paperwork if you like in an area with a chief law enforcement officer that refuses to sign all paperwork. Here’s what’s going on . . .
Currently there are two ways to obtain things like silencers and short barreled rifles: either as an individual or as a “corporation.” Filing as an individual requires photographs, fingerprints, and a sign-off from the local law enforcement (Chief Law Enforcement Officer or CLEO). Some cops refuse to sign off on that paperwork, effectively banning these otherwise legal items from being purchased in their jurisdiction. The way around that road block: a corporation. Since a corporation doesn’t have fingers or a face or a criminal record there’s no need for any of that, and all that is required is a 4473 when the item is picked up. This enabled people with anti-gun CLEOs to continue to purchase NFA items.
The NFATCA petitioned the ATF to remove the CLEO sign-off, and offered that they might get behind the idea of requiring fingerprints and background checks for everyone on a trust in trade. This backfired — the ATF proposed instead to require that those with trusts jump through the same hoops as those filing as an individual — photos, fingerprints, and CLEO sign-offs for the lot. This gets exponentially more annoying for people who have multiple individuals attached to their trust, since every single person must go through the exact same process every time a new item is purchased.
Our one saving grace so far has been that the ATF was completely overwhelmed with comments. The date when these proposals would be finalized has slipped time and again, allowing more and more people to get in on buying NFA items in the meantime. That date slipping seems to have come to a halt, and the final date for the rules to go live remains firmly set in January of 2016.
What does that mean for gun owners? It still takes a long time to process paperwork, but the indications we have gotten are that any forms received before the new procedures go into effect will be processed according to the old rules. In other words, if you send in your NFA paperwork right now, no matter when they actually get around to processing it they will apply the current set of rules to your transaction.
If you have never purchased an NFA item but always wanted to, now is the time to do it. For those living “behind enemy lines” this may be your last chance to turn your AR-15 into a registered SBR. For detailed instructions on the paperwork involved, click here for buying a silencer and click here for building an SBR.