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With support from Dead Air Armament and GEMTECH, Silencer Shop created software that digitizes all ATF Form 4 information into a single barcode. Instead of NFA inspectors having to manually enter everything on a physical Form 4 into their database, now a simple scan of the barcode ingests the information instantly. Today, we got news that the system was approved by the ATF and goes into effect immediately!

Bottom line: the new norm for Form 4 wait times — if your Form 4 has a Silencer Shop barcode (more on this later) — should be in the three to four week range. At this point, the delay will no longer be at the ATF but at the FBI, which processes the fingerprints and background check. What used to require a few minutes of manual data entry for every single Form 4 received — sometimes resulting in typos, which mean further delays — will now be done almost instantly.

I have it on good authority that the ATF will be creating two queues, as it were: one for standard Form 4s and one for barcoded Form 4s. While standard Form 4 wait times are expected to start coming down and may eventually, at the current NFA sales rate, be as short as three to four months, that’s still a far cry from the three to four weeks expected for F4s with the barcode.

Are you a silencer retailer but not a Powered by Silencer Shop partner? Fear not! Any dealer in the U.S. can use, free of charge, Silencer Shop’s Form 4 Generator to create and print a Form 4 with a scannable barcode on it.

Kudos to Silencer Shop for figuring out a way to work within the existing system while still massively boosting Form 4 processing efficiency! While we all wait and hope for the Hearing Protection Act or similar legislation to pass, it’s good to see resources still going towards improving the current system in creative ways that avoid bureaucracy. Form 4 approvals in 3-4 weeks? Sign me up!

In fact, the ATF received my barcoded Form 4 for a Liberty Goliath on August 15th. The timer has started. Within a week or so, RF will be submitting a Form 4 on a Q El Camino. We’ll keep you apprised of the progress.

For more information, see Silencer Shop’s blog post here.

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  1. if these time lines are accurate, i could get a Form 4 started today, and i would be done faster than the one i started in February. Why not run Form 1 like this too? the differences are negligible

  2. I find this dubious.

    Maybe the government just hires morons that can’t type but I can enter, and triple check, all the information on a Form 4 in under two minutes.

    I really doubt that “manual data entry” is the bottleneck at the ATF causing Tax Stamps to be nearly a year from application to approval. I just don’t buy it.

    • They were getting as many as 19k Form 4s every month in the months leading up to 41F going into effect. Two minutes times 18 thousand is a lot of man hours! And there are, what, maybe 20 NFA examiners total? I forget the number, but it isn’t a lot of people. At any rate, compare multiple minutes of data entry on tens of thousands of forms each month to scanning a barcode and being done with it.

      • 2 minutes each = 30 forms an hour.

        30 forms an hour x 8 hours/day = 240 forms a day

        240 forms a day = 4,800 @ (only) 20 days a month.

        So, 20 examiners should be able to clear about 100,000 forms a month.

        Or better yet, just fire them all and pretend the Constitution means something.

        • Thanks for doing the numbers. Don’t forget to figure in lunch, leave, holidays, breaks, fire drills, time at the coffee pot, solitaire, internet porn, etc. Still, assuming 50% efficiency, any backlogs should get caught up quickly. So, if, as someone notes below, backlogs are the hold up, we can assume our employees are operating at less than 18% efficiency (based on 100,000/month being 100% efficient). Just dandy.

        • According to the ASA “There are more than 45,000 Form 4 Applications in backlog at the NFA Branch.” and “With only 25 full time examiners manually approving forms, transferees are experiencing 4 to 9 month wait times.”

          Now, I don’t expect these people to be machines so let’s figure they each do 15 applications an hour on average. Also, give them an hour for lunch.

          15 x 7 = 105/day/person

          105 x 25 reviewers = 2625 applications per day.

          2625 applications per day x 5 days in a week = 13,125 applications per week.

          Times 4 weeks in a month = 52,500 applications per month.

          Now, figure it’s government work and cut that number in half 52,500/2 = 26,250. That’s still 315,000/year on the nose.

          Yet further, says that 2016 was “An all-time record of 130,017 Form 4s for NFA purchases from a Class 3 dealer were processed”.

          A 50 week work year for one person is 120,000 minutes. 25 people then work something on the order of 3 million minutes. 3,000,000/130,017 = 23.07 minutes per application. That would mean, were we to believe that data entry is the problem, that what takes me two minutes takes your ATF agent more than 10 times that long. And these people have to pass a typing test which I know because I’ve applied for such government work before and taken said test.

          So, how exactly is this “bottleneck” of months occurring? The absolute best numbers (for the ATF) that I can find (via CNN money) suggest that when suppressor sales are “booming” something on the order of 220,500 are sold per year. The ATF should be able to easily process that plus another 94,500 applications per year. Yet somehow 47% of just what should be their excess capacity are languishing for months.

          How exactly is this possible? It’s possible because “data entry” isn’t the bottleneck. Something else is.

          Again, I don’t buy the excuse.

        • I don’t buy two minutes. They claim it takes a longer than that.

          There isn’t a lot of other stuff going on with the applications. The FBI does the background check stuff and the ATF enters the info into the registry. If the background check is good, the ATF approves the form and registers the item.

          Just look at Form 3s right now. If a dealer mails a paper one in (even if they overnight it) it takes a month to get the approval. If they e-file it’s anywhere from 4 hours to 72 hours. Even with Form 1s and Form 4s (when e-filed 4s existed), e-filing was markedly faster and there isn’t even a separate “queue” for those. Now they’re apparently going to have a separate inbox and separate examiner(s) to process barcoded forms and the assertion is that the 3-4 weeks it takes the FBI to complete their part of the deal will become the limiting factor.

          Anyway, this is all a bit too much mental masturbation for me, as you and I have no real clue exactly how the NFA branch processes these applications. This whole conversation here in the comments is mostly wild speculation. The only thing I know for a fact is that the parties intimately involved in this are saying this new system is going to cut down approval times in a massive way (call it a month), and I sure as shit hope it pans out.

        • “Anyway, this is all a bit too much mental masturbation for me, as you and I have no real clue exactly how the NFA branch processes these applications.”

          That’s true but what I do know is that the FBI processes a background check for me to buy an actual firearm in a matter of seconds. That’s all I really do need to know to determine that there’s tomfuckery going on at the NFA branch.*

          *Provided they’re not still using typewriters and pnumo tubes or something a la John Wick. Which, after 8 years of Obama they honestly might be.

        • “I don’t buy two minutes. They claim it takes a longer than that.”

          Indeed, if they’re saying that the barcode will cut the processing time to just a few weeks, then it appears they are claiming it takes three to six months to do the data entry…

          Why, it’s almost like the whole system is just bureaucratic bullshit and busy work for government employees.

      • If there was no processing time there’d be no backlog. Kind of a chicken and egg thing, except it’s fairly clear that the processing time came first and the backlog was born of it 😉

    • Something tells me it takes way longer to review 30 page trusts and do background checks on 4 people for a single form 4, compared to the time to re-type the form 4 data in.
      Now if they could have actually used those thousands of man hours for the gov’t to make eforms and just paid a private company a third of the cost to do the same thing, this wouldn’t even be needed.

  3. “I have it on good authority that the ATF will be creating two queues.”

    Starting when, and who’s the source?

    • That requires changes to Federal law, which the American Suppressor Association has been working on since 2011, finally getting the Hearing Protection Act written into a piece of legislature in 2015. It’s still pending and hasn’t yet made it to a vote. In the meantime, knocking wait times down from 9 months to 1 month would be huge.

  4. Et tu, Jeremy? You used to be a lone voice of sanity on the staff, and now even you are using bullshit “BREAKING” headlines for far-from-urgent, nowhere-near-breaking stories? Please tell us it’s just a momentary lapse, brought on by the excitement of the prospect (certain to never be realized, but still fun to kid ourselves about for a short while) of much-shortened NFA wait times.

    • Dan is way more sane than me. Nick is also very even-keeled, despite vicious internet rumors.

      This seemed like a big deal to me. The vast majority of people who don’t buy NFA items say it’s because of the wait. Sure, a $200 tax sucks but most people say something like “I can’t come to terms with shelling out a thousand dollars for something I won’t be able to pick up for a year” and state that if they could pay the money and get the thing without the wait they’d own multiple NFA toys. There’s a smaller number of people who don’t want to be on a federal registry, which I understand and don’t argue with, but for most people it’s just the frustrating wait. Going from 9+ months down to 1 month would be a huge deal if it pans out! I do think it’s breaking news. Certainly seemed like it to me. Worth publishing as soon as it came in, basically, rather than putting it in the next open spot on the schedule (which would have been like 24 hours from when this posted) …though maybe it’s sort of niche breaking news if only a minority of TTAG’s readers care about suppressors and the prospect of buying them? Not sure how the data breaks down there…

      • The wait while a PITA is not what is stopping me. My beef is with the the extra documentation required by 41F. Why are those requirements still on the books? I know , I know the current clown in the White House did get a reasonable appt to SCOTUS and since that is the only reason I voted for him, anything else is gravy. Grrrr

      • Hey Jeremy, how is the wait going on the Goliath? Should be soon right? Please give us a glimmer of hope!

  5. Love the idea that if I were to buy a new supressor next month, It might get done before the one I bought in July… but I shall have to sit back and wait to see how this plays out… and even at waiting and it does play out… I can still get it before I get my July purchase…

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