SBR AR with suppressor (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

Back at SHOT Show I asked the ATF agents at their booth a simple question: once you have an approved Form 1 to make and register a NFA weapon, when are you required to engrave your manufacturing information on your new firearm? The response was somewhat surprising — the ATF agent informed me that you only need to engrave your NFA firearm if you intend to sell it. I wrote an article to that effect back in January and also immediately emailed the ATF for additional clarification. The ATF has just responded and their written response is a complete 180 degree departure from what they verbally communicated.

Here’s the email I sent the ATF with their response in bold.

To whom it may concern,

At SHOT Show this year I asked an ATF employee a question about NFA marking requirements. I was wondering at what point I needed to engrave my firearm with my information when making an NFA registered item from an existing non-NFA regulated device.

*Upon approval of the Form 1 to make and once you make you must mark the firearm with your information. That is the information you put on your form as the maker. So if you used your name you would mark your name, city, and state. If you used a trust you would mark the name of the trust, city, and state.

The ATF employee informed me that the only regulatory requirement for marking a firearm pertained to firearms that were intended for sale in interstate commerce. This regulation is the reason that homemade non-NFA firearms were legal to possess without any markings whatsoever so long as they were not sold or transferred to another person.

*Licensed Manufacturers/Importers are required to mark firearms by law. An individual who makes a firearm qualified under the Gun Control Act (GCA) for themselves is not required to mark.

According to the ATF employee the same logic applied to NFA firearms – since the markings required to identify the firearm on the registration paperwork already exist there is no need to add the markings for the NFA manufacturer (the owner). The only time those markings are required, according to the employee, is when the firearm is sold or transferred to another owner, even if the firearm is no longer in a configuration that would classify it as an NFA regulated device.

The above information is incorrect.

ALL firearms that qualify under the National Firearms Act (NFA) are required to be marked by the manufacturer/maker at the time it is made. It has nothing to do with when the firearm enters into commerce.

I have been informed that there are other conflicting opinions about this requirement beyond what your employee has told me. I would sincerely appreciate a written confirmation of the exact regulation to stop further confusion.

Thanks,

Nick Leghorn

So there’s the word straight from the horse’s mouth.

We here at TTAG strive to get you the most complete and accurate answers possible. The information provided in the first post was accurate and truthful to the response I received from the ATF in person, but I do personally apologize for not confirming that information with a second source at the ATF before publication.

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39 Responses to UPDATE: ATF Clarifies Form 1 Marking Requirements

  1. Well, that’s why NFA items are called “regulated”.

    Makes sense, with both sides of the party agreeing we need to keep track of NFA type weapons, we sort of agreed to this.

    • Most, if not all, of the people who “agreed” to the NFA in 1934 are dead… People go along with it now because of the threat of ten years in prison. It’s not really agreement if you’re coerced with force.

    • The existing markings referenced on the registration form accomplish that objective. They confirm this fact by issuing the tax stamp. Whoever wrote this email has no idea what they are talking about.

      • Dude, no. The definitions and law are clear. You can reuse the info already marked on the gun that doesn’t change (serial #, caliber) but you’re the maker of the NFA item, not the original manufacturer of the firearm, so YOUR info now has to go on it (name or trust name, city, and 2-letter state abbreviation). To be clear, pwrserge, the NFA item is not being registered to the existing manufacturer, it’s being registered to your information (name/trust name, city, state info that you must input on the Form 1). That’s why that info must go on the gun. You’re mistaken when you keep asserting that it’s registered to existing markings. IF you don’t change the caliber or serial number, you can reuse those markings, yes. But no matter what, you’re the new maker/manufacturer/registrant and this is why you had to put that info on the Form and why that same info has to be engraved on the gun when you make it. This is the law, and the bold text from the ATF in Nick’s post is accurate.

        And to be clear, the issuing of the tax stamp does NOT make your gun into an NFA item. It’s simply your permission to do so. It’s like passing a NICS test. Doesn’t mean you have to buy the gun. No commitment. Only when you reconfigure or make it in NFA configuration do you become the maker and have to put your info on it. So, no, the stamp doesn’t mean they’ve approved an NFA item with the existing markings and no more needed. Not at all. Just means you can proceed.

        • The way I read the statute, the markings required are what appears in 4a on a Form 1. I have an approved Form 1 that makes your reading suspect.

  2. What a joke of an agency, them being able to regulate what I have in my house, not harming anyone else and never sold, is frankly non of their business. How I configure my weapons, and how I mark them, is between me and my family. That should include all nfa items, if I manufacture them myself and never sell or transfer a single one.

    • Completely true and accurate statement. And the same goes for drugs or anything else…as long as a person is not using force to harm or coerce another individual then leave them the heck alone!

      I’ve tried for some time but unfortunately I can’t get the 80 or so million gun owners to unite en masse and break all NFA, GCA statutes and/or just stop paying taxes.

      One person or a small group – easy to make an example of. Millions of people? A Revolution. And not a shot has to be fired. Just stop feeding the beast. That is all.

    • Completely true and accurate statement. And the same goes for drugs or anything else…as long as a person is not using force to harm or coerce another individual then leave them the heck alone!

      I’ve tried for some time but unfortunately I can’t get the 80 or so million gun owners to unite en masse and break all NFA, GCA statutes and/or just stop paying taxes.

      One person or a small group – easy to make an example of. Millions of people? Now that’s a statement. And not a shot has to be fired. Just stop feeding the beast. That is all.

  3. I am convinced the verbal answer is the correct one reading the regulation, but dealing with the BATFE (and California DOJ as well by the way—it took years for them to issue a letter saying bullet buttons were legal on ARs) really shows the supposed experts inability to navigate and understand the labyrinthine gun laws that us common folks are held accountable to comply with. It is insane. We need federal clarity and simplicity on all firearms and ammunition laws as a mandate.

    • Agreed. This is just another way for the ATF to try and chill the exercise of people’s 2nd amendment rights. I don’t even see what they would charge you with. The gun is registered using existing markings and serial numbers and the tax has been paid. I don’t see this reading of the law standing up in court.

      • The part about what we do to the infringer and his entire blood line, and make a public event out of it. There are billions of dollars and feudal lordships hanging on this issue. Until the risk is intolerable, they will continue to infringe.

  4. David Goldman (Gun Trust Lawyer) clarified the marking requirements as well after you wrote the TTAG article in January Nick. In fact I think he referred to the info in your article as being bad information from the ATF agent. David is a very knowledgeable attorney and I trust the advice he gives. The Internet can be full of bad info so it’s best to check with a pro when dealing with all things NFA related.

  5. You have this with a lot of government agencies. No one really knows what the rules are.

    Just try bringing back canned sausages from France. They’ll be confiscated (and probably enjoyed by a Customs agent). So try to figure out how to do it legally because the regs say it’s legal since it’s canned.

    Customs will refer you to the USDA, the USDA will refer you to the FDA which will refer you back to Customs which will refer you to another branch of Customs who will refer you to the FDA again which will refer you back to Customs which will refer you back to the USDA. You’ll spend all day on the phone and never get an actual answer to a pretty fucking simple question.

    This is why I don’t have a tidy little import business taking advantage of the Caribbean Basin Trade Act, because it’s impossible to figure out how to do it legally without spending tens of thousands on a lawyer to find out how to ship stuff into the country and even if you do that, Customs doesn’t know the rules so they might raid your shipments and bankrupt you anyway.

    • Interesting; they don’t confiscate canned meats when returning from the Philippines. Only preserved and/or frozen meats.

  6. “So there’s the word straight from the horse’s mouth.”

    You’re an expert on guns, Nick, but not anatomy. The actual ATF orifice is 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

  7. Am I being especially obtuse today or did they contradict themselves?

    To wit:

    “*Upon approval of the Form 1 to make and once you make you must mark the firearm with your information. (rest omitted)”

    ” (first part omitted) An individual who makes a firearm qualified under the Gun Control Act (GCA) for themselves is not required to mark.”

    • Yes, yes they did. Add to that the fact that additional markings clearly violate the legislative intent of making the fireamr easily identifiable and you have yourself quite a conundrum. In any case, the chances of this being enforced are exactly zero. Once the tax stamp is issued, their ability to go after you is almost non-existent as they cannot prove criminal intent. The weapon in question has already been registered with existing markings and the tax paid.

    • The difference is GCA (non-NFA) vs. NFA.

      You can make a firearm without marking it.
      You cannot make an NFA firearm without marking it.

      I admittedly had to read that about 10 times before I figured it out, as well.

      • Ahhhh. I wondered if that little GCA had something to do with it. Admittedly, I was too laz….er, busy with work, to Google.

        Thanks!

  8. Right or wrong this is why you don’t take any word from these fools for face value and get something in writing. Even the stuff in writing is sketchy.

  9. We work for Mr. ATF as regulators.

    We regulate and steal your property – we’re damn good too! Mr. ATF’s got a soft spot for misinformed, careless, vague types. But you can’t be any geek off the street, gotta be handy with the Bic if you know what I mean, earn your keep.

  10. Seems like everyone knew this but you guys and then when everyone tried to correct you you told us all we were wrong.

    Do you know how many newbies you guys misled with your unacceptable clickbait? Total BS!

  11. 11) THOU SHALT NOT ASK THE ATF A QUESTION.

    12) THOU SHALT DEFINITELY NOT ASK THE ATF THE SAME QUESTION TWICE AND EXPECT THE SAME ANSWER, LEST YE SHALL BE DISAPPOINTED FOR EVER LASTING ETERNITY

    13) THOU REALLY SHALT NEVER EVER ASK THE ATF A QUESTION WHENCE THOU DOES NOT WANTITH TO HEAR THY ANSWER (ie – ‘Hey, ATF, are you like really sure it’s like totally cool to shoulder this brace man, uh heh heh?)

    • 13.1 You shall ignore any communication with the ATF you don’t like in favor of those you do until they publish an official answer that’s backed up by statute.

  12. So what? The batf@gs tells you one thing while the other one would gladly shoot your dog for that infraction? Same old story, don’t go to jail if you pay them $200.. Or well, um, maybe don’t. You know if they feel like following the law and junk.

  13. This is not uncommon at all. At the place I work, we will contact an IOI about a question and will get different answers from different inspectors that are completely contradictory. We have had some questions go all the way up the food chain, talk to them on the phone and get the “definitive” answer. Ask for it in writing, and it comes back totally different than what was told to us. They always like to say it’s a”gray” area. Yeah, it’s a gray area up until they put you out of business. It shouldn’t be this difficult.

  14. It’s as it has been for the last 6+ years. Everyone that had been in the NFA game for a while knew the agent was talking nonsense. If you were to ask 10 different agents you might get 11 different answers, information dissemination of the NFA branch is awful, rarely ever getting down to the field agents.

  15. So bottom line is, once your form 1 is approved, your trust or personal information must be engraved onto the NFA item?

  16. The ATF guys email is one guys opinion (and it’s probably on Hillary’s bathroom server). Info at SHOT was another guys opinions (what has HIS name).

    What does it say in published fed regulations?

  17. I bet if you emailed again you’d get a different answer. I’m not just saying that to be a ass, that has been my experience.

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