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A few days ago we reported on the assertion by the ATF and a couple of FFL holders that one of the reasons the ATF’s new NFA paperwork processing system is almost completely unusable at times is that Austin’s Silencer Shop is killing it by automating the uploading all of their paperwork in a very short time frame. The Silencer Shop disagreed, saying that they have timed their activities to have the least impact possible on the rickety system and actually free up resources for other FFL/SOTs to do their business. The ATF, however, still seems dead-set on putting the kibosh on batch processing, and is about to break out the rulers and start smacking some wrists . . .

According to our sources, the ATF is in the process of drafting a “cease and desist” letter to all users of the eForms system demanding that they immediately stop any batch uploading procedures. The reported punishment for anyone using such a process would be an immediate revocation of their ability to use the system. That would mean the Silencer Shop’s practice of offering their batch uploading services to other shops might not only get the Silencer Shop booted from the eForms filing system but any participating shops as well.

The news isn’t all doom and gloom, though. The ATF has reportedly secured new funding to scrap their (brand new, very expensive) eForms system and replace it with another brand new one that actually might work. They’re reportedly reaching out to people in the industry for help this time, so hopes are high that a new, re-designed system might actually work and shave time off of form processing.

That’s the scuttlebutt from our reliable sources, anyway. Whether or not any of this comes true is a completely different story. This is the ATF we’re talking about, which isn’t exactly the most transparent agency of the U.S. Government.

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  1. “New & Improved!” SSDD just different packaging. We’re from the government and we’re here to help…

  2. I don’t get it as someone who’s designed and built websites tied to legacy back end systems since 1996 this sh!t ain’t rocket science – what is up with the Federal Gov’t that they can’t build these things right?

    • “Always keep ’em wanting more”


      “There’s a sucker born every minute”

      both come to mind.

    • Pretty much spot on question. Shortest answer is: The software is built by a bureaucracy, lax (if any) software development processes are in place or enforced, and politics-driven. The accomplishment is _something_ got deployed to prod.

      It’d be interesting to know if this system had an independent (and meaningful) security audit.

      • Lowest bidder until you factor in a Government contract, which aren’t always the lowest you could get…

        • Actually, if it’s done through an RFP (rather than single sourced), it’ll be scored and the winner has the best score (weight of the sections are usually specified in the request). Cost as well as Technical is included in the sections. One can wonder about who does the scoring, their biases, and actual skills/knowledge.

      • Lowest bidder? I’ll code it for half as much and it will work twice as well.

        0 x 2 = 0…..

      • You won’t find a government website that has ever cost “us” anything less than $18M… and that’s just for the rudimentary sites of yore for making static information available to the public.

      • The answer is actually closer to “bureaucracy in action”. Without knowing the contractor or team that built the site, it’s hard to say whether the problem lies with the contractor skill set, management decisions, internal regulations or legal constraints.

        It’s easy to look at the problem from the outside and say “Bah! Bunch of incompetent coders made a site from the 1990s.” But if you don’t know the requirements, don’t know the resources and don’t know the management environment (both contractor and client) then it’s nigh impossible to make a fair assessment.

        • Having seen that sausage being made, it really isn’t an unreasonable assumption. That world is very different.

  3. Perhaps I’m talking apples and oranges, but seemed to handle the holiday season rush with nary a glitch. Why the hell can’t the new system be more like that?

    • The ATF doesn’t have to satisfy their customers to keep em coming back.

    • Heck, if Amazon or Google made the site it could fill in your info automatically! Obamacare Prime members get free 2 day shipping for drugs and streaming videos showing how to perform the surgery.

    • Amazon is probably not operating under government contracting regulations, internal IT procurement procedures and legal restrictions on how to compartmentalize customers’ data. Amazon also built an entire business out of server farms. They literally will lease space in their server farm to you. They have multiple, multimillion dollar warehouses of servers.

      You’re comparing a federal agency to a company that does IT for a living.

    • They would probably get the best result if they just asked a bunch of programmers who are also gun owners and own (or are interested in acquiring) NFA items to sign up and do this for them. Then you’ll get a system that would actually work very well and cut down processing time as much as humanely possible.

      Heck, I’d volunteer for that, no charge, if that allows me to get another suppressor in two weeks rather than a year.

  4. It seems like the easier solution would be to make suppressors and SBRs/SBSs not subject to all that crap.

    How about a NICS check followed by a $200 check to the ATF and that’s it?

    • How about a NCIS check followed by a check to ATF for ZERO?

      Better still, skip the NCIS check. The gun is already owned.

      • Baby steps… you first get rid of the paperwork, then work on the $200 tax.

        It’s an easier sell to the ATF if they still get their check.

    • Its all about the records. Thats it. One change that I could see happening is after your first round of paperwork and 200 dollar check, you are issued an NFA license. After that, any transfers or SBR/SBS or suppressor creation need only a NICS check and filled out card describing the item with the 200 check sent to the ATF. No more 18 month wait.

      Still a royal pain in the arse, but at least you dont have to wait a year and a half. Though it would be easier to do away with the bullshit altogether, but that wont happen anytime soon.

  5. The government generally takes the lowest bidder, who usually sucks. Then that low bidder screws them on overages and change orders and we are them left with a billion dollar website that doesnt work, all because the feds tried to save a little money on the front end.

  6. The easiest, quickest and simplest solution would be to draw a line through the terms “Short Barreled Rifle”, and “Silencer”, wherever they occur in the relevant literature. Problem solved.

  7. I’m not an FFL. What was with the batch loading process? Was it more than just building a PDF doc? If it wasn’t, props to the Silencer Shop for the work around and thinking outside the box.

  8. If its built by the same company that brought you the Obamacare website you’re in deep trouble……

    • It was really not designed to work. How may I screw up America? Let me count the ways!

  9. They should stick with what they do best. Gun running, kicking in peoples doors and ignoring constitutional rights. Paper work seems too difficult for them.

  10. This is how government does their requirements engineering. They don’t, or they hire the lowest bidder for SETA, then they figure out what v2 of the system needs from all the complaints about v1, then they spend millions more on the rewrite, rinse and repeat.

    • Bingo. What’s that phrase John Galt was fond of saying? Oh yes: “Get the Hell out of my way.”

  11. Screw the lowest bidder. I bet you could get 100 programmers to build the revised eForm site for free. Just so it helps get NFA items into more hands.

    • Except they don’t WANT to get them into more hands. That’s the whole point.

      Please stop seeing your government as well-meaning Mr. Bungles. They are out to screw us in every way possible.

  12. I bet eForms is written in Perl & Javascript, with an Oracle backend, running on a five year old AIX or Solaris server.

    • The web site/application is built using Oracle ADF… yuck!!!

      If Oracle ADF is in use then it is likely that the whole system is an all Oracle technology mash up of products. The problem is more the design and less the technology… with the exception of Oracle ADF. Oracle ADF is a proprietary web application technology spun as if it really isn’t proprietary because because it is built on standard technologies.

  13. Mark here from Silencer Shop. If there is a cease and desist letter, we haven’t been made aware of it and our sources at ATF are telling us that this article is the first they’ve ever heard of it also. Whether that’s true or not, one thing is undeniable: It’s only a rumor at this point and one we can’t get anyone to verify at that. On a separate note: It’s odd to me that with the ATF, the National Firearms Act, the concentrated effort in Washington to deny Americans their natural and civil rights, Silencer Shop is the one accused of ‘gumming up the process’.

    • I guess y’all need to stop beimg so successful that you’re bringing down a federal public facing resource.

      It’s fingerpointing and they’re clearly tryimg to cover for gross mismanagement. It ain’t hard to estimate how many forms per day need to be processed when they could count postal mail. Consider it free advertising?

    • Mark, just keep trying to make it better for everyone. I love the concept of not having to mess with paperwork anymore than I have to. I would think everyone else would agree. You have taken a painful process and made it easier for consumers and FFL’s. Keep pushing to make it better. I know I for one will give my dollars to dealers that make this process easier and quicker.

    • Well, I hope to contribute to the backlog as I am placing my order through yall at the Silencer Shop tomorrow.

      Sic semper sonitus!

  14. I just wish “people in the industry” wouldn’t go along with this crap. Here we sit praising the firearms owners in Connecticut for not following the “law” and becoming class D felons on purpose while giving their State government the bird but here we sit “abiding” by this drivel called the GCA and NFA that is just as unconstitutional!

  15. My Forms went in during October 2013. A call yesterday said that I could anticipate them around August of 2014. Holy Sh!t. Now that is service, government style.

  16. Is it sad that the software engineers here could probably put together a better system in a week than they already paid for?

  17. Me thinks the problem is not with the frontend but the backend cannot handle any sequential data submission.

    It’s not a bug! It’s a feature!

  18. Obviously, Silencer Shop knows what they’re doing.

    Just have them set it up.

    By the way, they’ve asserted that their batch uploads happen at 4 am. Hardly the time of day to “hog” all the bandwidth from everyone else.

  19. The ATF can’t do the paper versions of the application efficiently either. What a bunch of incompetent boobs but then that’s a bit redundant…………

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