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I’ve been waiting on the paperwork for my SBR since last year. No kidding – I sent the check in at the beginning of December, 2012 and my application went pending on January 3, 2013. I’ve been calling every week or so to check status and get roughly the same answer . . .

Today’s conversation went something like this:

Me: I’d like to check the status of a Form 1.

I give them the serial number and name.

ATF: Your application went pending on January 3.

Me: Okay, but that was six months ago.  It seems to be taking a lot longer than normal.   the last time, I had approval within five and a half months of the pending date and the tax stamp in hand by six months.

ATF: We recently revised our turnaround time to 9 months.

Me: Okay, thank you for the opportunity to be royally f*cked by my government.

ATF: Our pleasure, sir.

That’s how I remember it, at least. Okay, the last part of that exchange did not take place, but I was sure thinking it.

Things are getting out of hand. Nine months to process paperwork? Add to that the fact that this is the fourth thing that I have run through the NFA branch in the last 18 months.  It shouldn’t take this long to go through the process. I get that there’s been a tremendous upswing in applications and I understand that the ATF is somewhat limited by artificial head count restrictions imposed from above. And the sequester certainly didn’t help. But nine months? Really?

Let’s review what the National Firearms Act originally intended. Namely a government agency (which ultimately became the ATF) was to be responsible for tracking the ownership of weapons and other items that fall within the definition of the NFA. Basically, this means that they need to be able to account for all NFA registered devices.

If you simply dedicated all of the NFA branch staff to maintaining the records of transfers and weapon creation rather than having them waste time verifying background check data, things could go much more quickly. After all, I need to go through a federal NICS background check to buy any gun. What the hell is the ATF doing that’s more thorough than what NICS can do? With the advent of the Gun Trust, the ATF already has a large percentage of applications that lack both photos and fingerprints, so clearly these aren’t absolutely required to get a transfer done.

The transfer time for NFA items between FFL/SOT holders is usually 30 days or less.  This is the time it takes to update the records to reflect the change in ownership along with the inevitable waiting period in the queue. There is no legitimate reason why this turn time isn’t offered to the rest of the law abiding public.

I’ve written my Senators and Representative and urge that you do the same. Granted, this may not be the best time to push liberalizing gun laws, but if nothing else it may be something that the pro-gun crowd can use as leverage the next time the anti-gun special interests try to ram more “common sense” legislation down our throats.

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  1. It’s defacto gun control. They failed at AWB, so since they’re not mandated to act on NFA they’ll go as slow as possible.

    • Pretty much got that right, meanwhile the NSA taps your phones, reads your emails and every other thing they can think of that violates the 4th amendment, all in the name of “security”.

    • NFA for short barreled anything, silencers and Any Other Weapons needs to go. Shouldn’t have to pay a tax or have a background check or register parts that don’t go bang.

        • Only safety equipment I know of that people fear on such a wide scale.

          Oh besides firefighter respirators. That first blast in the face gets just about everyone.

    • The Second Amendment does not specify any specific weapon as something the Government can regulate or restrict it says SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED therefore we should not have to put up with any Government BS for any weapon we want to own, if they have it we should be free to have it too without any of their BS, Fees or Paperwork, If our Government can give Tanks, F-16’s and cargo ships full of automatic weapons and ammo to our enemies without having to even ask us then why do we have to ask them for permission to own anything.

  2. “The transfer time for NFA items between FFL/SOT holders is usually 30 days or less. ”

    Sure isn’t. My form 3 transfers are taking three months or more nowadays.

    • What makes me sad: in an era when I get transaction confirmation emails within 30 seconds when I buy something from Amazon, 30 days is seen as an acceptable target turnaround time.

      • The difference is Amazon actually wants you to have the item, enjoy it, and be happy. That way, you’ll go back and give them more of your money instead of other people. The government wants to prevent you from having these items, and ultimately if you refuse to give them your money, they’ll send men with similar items to take you and put you in a cage.

    • I’m on 2.5 months for a Form 3 dealer to dealer…if it ever gets approved I THEN get to start my ridiculous wait so I can take it home from MY dealer. This sucks.

      • Same, but I’m only at 3 weeks…I was hoping for a Christmas gift for myself, but from what I’m reading it might not be until, appropriately, April Fools Day

  3. It’s actually worse than you describe. Between your purchase and June, I submitted four form 4’s and one form 1. The time to pending has steadily increased. A form submitted today will take more than 70 days to go pending… then you start your wait. In other words, they tried to hide a month increase in wait time by sticking it before the pending date.

    Also note that they hired a bunch of research assistants to help the nine examiners… and since they were hired, the wait time has ballooned. WTF is going on in WV?!?!?!

  4. There is no reason that Form 3, that is dealer to dealer transfers, are not completely paperless. Our ability to now check on status of forms via a simple phonecall with the serial number and transfering parties proves a database system of items in the NFA is both there and easly used. Why the system is still run like we are in the 70’s seems a willful act of the BATFE.

    I still am waiting for the “promised” digital uploading of documents that the ASA mentoned in their 2012 meeting with BAFTE officials.

    If the numbers of NFA tracker are to be a good sample size of the NFA items transfered, the removal of Silencers from the NFA would result in nearly a 40-50% reduction of transfers. Why these safety devices are still regulated along the same lines as the rest of the items in the NFA is staggering, if it wern’t the federal gov.

    • And just wait until you need some medical assistance.
      911 OPERATOR: “911. How may I help you?”
      YOU: “Uh, I just got run over by a truck and I need an ambulance.”
      911 OPERATOR: “Ok, Sir. Are you bleeding?”
      YOU: “Yes. I’m loosing a lot of blood, and I’m feeling a little faint. Please hurry!”
      911 OPERATOR: “I understand, Sir. Have your filled out your Form B?”
      YOU: “No! I left it at home. Please send the ambulance. I think I’m going to pass out.”
      911 OPERATOR: “Sir. …… Sir! We cannot dispatch an ambulance until you verify that you have filled out and signed your Form B.”
      YOU: “Well maybe I could fill it out electronically on my smart phone?
      911 OPERATOR: “I’m sorry Sir, but we can’t accept electronic forms.”
      YOU: “[sound of air slowly draining from you lungs]”
      911 OPERATOR: “Sir. . ….Sir! Hey Madge. Tell the ambulance crew not to interrupt their lunch break, and call my friend at the funeral parlor.”
      If you like BATFE, you’re gonna just love the “Affordable Care Act!”


  5. It’s called “slow-walking” guys. Next there will be the “we regret to inform you that the application you submitted on xx-xx-xxxx has been lost (or is returned for the following reason—–). Please resubmit.” Count on it.

  6. Wrong- this is exactly the *right* time to push liberalizing gun laws. That is what the anti-gunners do.

    • +1 The best defense is a good offense. I say we knock them on their backsides and keep stomping on their necks at every opportunity. The best time to launch your counterattack is after a failed enemy assault. They failed with the 2013 AWB, time to stick our collective boots where the sun don’t shine.

  7. @Barret:
    What needs to be done is to have the States mandate a turn-around time of less than 30days for Trust/ FFL & CCW holders otherwise they will issue the Stamp themselves, bypassing the BATFE, since as you stated, we have already gone through all the back-ground checks through the States’ and Federal DOJ. This should remain a clearance of declaration of eligibility superceding any further requirements unless a court order has been issued in the resounding negative.

    • The easiest, most cost effective, logical thing to do is to make short barrels, silencers and AOW’s non NFA items. You’ve already got the part that makes the ammo go pewpewpew.

      We shouldn’t have to ask permission, be scrutinized and pay a tax for items that aren’t guns. Wait, that goes for guns too.

    • What gets me is this whole tax stamp thing via the NFA is under the auspices of Interstate Commerce Clause. However, I am waiting on paper work for a suppressor I am purchasing made by a company in my home state (1 county over) sold through a LGS. There is nothing interstate about the transaction.

  8. Quick poll of the TTAG community:

    Would you be willing to trade Manchin-Toomey for no longer having to go through the NFA procedure for SBRs, SBSs, and Suppressors?

    If not, what about a modified M-T that had the FFL holder destroy the sales record after 5 years and required a warrant or subpoena for the ATF to initiate a trace in that subset of records?

    • Maybe… If state restrictions on all NFA items were also preempted. While I am counting down to my CCW is IL, I still can’t own a suppressor, or SBS. I would also want the machine gun registry opened back up.

    • No, the NFA should be brought up to at a minimum of standards of technology of say the 1990′-2000’s. I can file my presonal and business taxes digitally. Forms, Trust/Corp documents should be able to file digitally, hell even the stamp should be digitally issued. If you ever loose or it is destroyed they issue a cert copy, hell dealer SOT “tax stamps” are issued digitally printed out not with an actual physical stamp. The fact that the current NICS system can spit me out a number in under 15 minutes, for $5 in my state to buy a handgun and the BAFTE is gonna take 9 months and $200 of my money to have a new hearing protection device or a barrel on a shotgun/rifle that is a bit short is laughable if it wern’t the federal gov doing the job.

        • Absolutely. It out lasted its usefulness. It was created under the auspices of the gangsters of the 1920s & 1930s like Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly, Baby Face Nelson, Vernon Miller, Bonnie & Clyde and mobsters like Capone. However, they didn’t stamp there stuff anyway.

    • My counter proposal would be they reopen the machine gun registry, de-list; SBRs, SBSs, AOWs, DD firearms, and most importantly silencers, and they generally fix the paper work processes for NFA. In exchange for that we will allow them enhanced background checks in the form of opening NICs up to us to perform the checks ourselves.

    • Absolutely not!

      BCG requirements for private purchases is against the law, that’s why it isn’t done.

      Everything we have now was, at one point, not a lawful excercise of Government until We the People allowed it fir some stupid excuse or another. Now we see Iin full view the purpose of those illegal laws.

      More illegal laws is not an answer to anything.

      I will only support any law that passes one very simple litmus test:
      Does it prohibit Governments’ actions or citizens’? Does it provide infringement to Government or Citizens?

  9. Ha, that’s nothing. 9 months is still less time than in takes to get a pistol permit in NY…at least in my county. It’s also about the same amount of time that folks in IL are going to have to wait to get their concealed carry permits. A right delayed is a right denied. I don’t like the way the wind has been blowing for the last 5 years. It stinks !

    • Why? We won every major court case in the period and no new laws are on the books at the federal level. At this point, we are winning the war. We can’t get complacent, but we are still much better off than we were in 1995.

  10. The graph at hasn’t been updated since January. There’s data in the spreadsheet between then and now, but they’re not generating a new trend graph. Anyone have any idea why?

    • That is up to date. A January check cash date plus a six to seven month wait means they get their stamps in June or July.

      • Oh, hell… So, funny story. When I pull the graph up on my screen, I can see the month/year labels at the bottom, but that’s it. The legend below them is off my screen, and I didn’t scroll.

        Mea culpa.

  11. I propose that every working person in America suddently start requiring 9 months to deliver whatever product or service it is that you offer. See what happens if the entire country is run like the ATF.

  12. Really, what’s so different about the ATF’s check?
    Nine months wait for a quieting tube to be a good neighbor.

    9 months = 394462 minutes
    Last NICS check I had took 20 minutes.
    While I wait for one stupid aluminum tube I can buy 19723.1 guns.

    I wonder if I would hate government half as much as I do if only their laws made sense. I can tolerate something I dont like if it just makes sense. Nothing the gov does makes any sense.

    • Why even bother with that? I have two AR SBRs pistols (SBRs are illegal in WA). Both have a standard pistol buffer tube, with a 1.5″ cane tip at the end (it’s not a buttstock according to the ATF). It comfortably fits in the pocket below my collarbone and holds the rifle pistol at a comfortable distance from my face (I like it close).

      • >> Both have a standard pistol buffer tube, with a 1.5″ cane tip at the end (it’s not a buttstock according to the ATF).

        I’m in WA, as well, and I’ve always wondered about this kind of thing. Sure, ATF does not consider it (or the SIG “brace”) a stock, but the law that forbids SBRs here has nothing to do with ATF or its interpretations. All the terms are outlined in the law itself:

        “Rifle” means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed metallic cartridge to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger.

        “Short-barreled rifle” means a rifle having one or more barrels less than sixteen inches in length and any weapon made from a rifle by any means of modification if such modified weapon has an overall length of less than twenty-six inches.

        I was considering getting an AR pistol to use precisely as you’ve described, but I’m afraid to run afoul of a local interpretation of the law that would disagree with ATF.

  13. Nine months is the stock answer they always give to get you to stop calling. We are currently seeing stamps from late December and are expecting early January shortly.

    The research assistants they hired were contractors. Guess who was let go under sequester BS….. they also hired new examiners, but it appears that they are now doing the job the contractors were doing and not doing final checks like they were supposed to.

    We are crossing the “Newton” boundary right about now. It wasn’t just normal guns that everyone surged on, NFA items were right there with them. It didn’t help that the rumor mongers convinced people to submit Form 1s for their normal ARs (because they were going to be NFA regulated anyday now), so they are now wading through a pile of that garbage.

    If you really want to help, join the American Silencer Association. It is the only group out there that is actively working to fix this situation.

  14. “They need to fix this…, they need adjust that…” Bullshit.

    “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    We need to stop nibbling around the edges and gut these abusive government agencies that serve no positive purpose.

    • “Eliminate the ATF”, while an admirable goal (and one most of us on TTAG would cheer for) is not practical, particularly with an anti-gun Senate and White House. Convincing them that suppressors are not the evil assassination tools that Hollywood makes them out to be, and are in fact safety devices, is reasonable. It worked here in WA with a completely Democratic legislature and governor: we went from suppressors legal to own (but not to use-huh?) to legal to own and use.

      • The ATF should be disbanded as a law enforcement agency. It should be solely paperwork. Cops can handle enforcement. The ATF is redundant and pointless and has done nothing good in its entire existence.

  15. “What the hell is the ATF doing that’s more thorough than what NICS can do? ”
    Don’t you know?
    They are digging into your medical records to verify your LAST PROCTOLOGY EXAM.

  16. I’m going into 8 months this week. The average I was told WHEN I FIRST applied. Now my gun guys, Lauer Weaponry in WI, have said the gov is stepping up/down wait times on people IN THE BIZ, so they assume citizens waiting for anything nfa will have even longer waiting times now. I was told to expect 12-15 month wait times. Fricking ridiculous and criminal.

  17. Just be glad they’ve never raised the price of the tax stamp. The original intent of the law was to make it exorbitantly expensive to attain permission for such weapons. Back in the 30s a laborer made a buck a day. If they kept adjusting for inflation that stamp would set you back $20,000.

    I’m just a glass half full guy I guess.

      • I think it was ’33 that FDR seized the gold and raised the price from $20 to $35 (with disastrous effect on the economy). Gold prices have recently crashed but it’s still getting $1288/oz. So by that measure $200 is now $7360, but if you wait a few minutes that will change.

        Even by your figure, not very many people could afford $3400 at the height of the Great Depression.

        Also, bear in mind that when the federal government adjusts a tax for inflation (which they caused by printing money and spending it) they usually over adjust.

        • I’m not sure why you’re using gold as a value. I just typed “inflation calculator” into Google, and then entered $200 and 1934 into the first 5 results. They were all basically the same, close enough that I’m comfortable with “about $3400.”

        • Matt, it’s called the ‘good suit’ analogy. Theory being that when FDR confiscated the gold, a 1 oz. coin would buy a upper echelon business suit. Today gold trades at ~$1300/oz. Again a nice mid-level business suit. Using the 1oz of gold analogy, inflation at any current time can be reasonably quantified compared to 1934. So considering a $20, 1oz gold piece in ’34, which coincides nicely with the NFA, the current “street value” of an NFA tax stamp should be ~$13,000. Def cost prohibiting. Plus those inflation calculators only use the BLS ‘official’ yearly statistics. You really think real life items like gas and milk adhere to their curve?

        • In 1934 $35 WAS an ounce of gold and vice versa up until 1971. A dollar’s value compared to other commodities varies. Some things are cheaper and others more expensive. Either way it doesn’t change the other 2 points that $3400 was exorbitantly expensive or that if the tax had been “keeping up with inflation” it would probably have exceeded the rate of inflation.

  18. The shooting at Sandy Hook moved more short barreled rifles than normal. I sold four in 2 days. Normally they take a few months to sell one.

  19. I mailed form 4 January 1 2013, pending 2/14/13… Got my form back for correction approx 3 weeks ago (6/21/13 I believe) and sent back same day.. Still waiting.

  20. Everyone step back a moment and really look at the overall big picture. The gov’t wants to minimize, as much as possible, the ownership of NFA items. Since the extra $200 tax stamp isn’t much of an obstacle these days, the only effective deterrents left are paperwork and time. If the overall wait time to own an NFA item causes most everyone to scoff and look the other way…..guess what…. the ATF is actually doing a bang up job! And all the more reason to feel kinda proud when you finally own NFA toys.

    • The background checks, finger print cards etc. should be enough of an obstacle. I would like to hear them admit on a stand under oath in court that the purpose of the NFA is an obstacle to the 2nd Amendment instead of the charade they have been pulling for 80 years about interstate commerce.

  21. I sent my paperwork in on Dec 1, 2012 and my stamp made it back to me on July 5th. My bet is that yours will be in soon as well.

    It is a bit ridiculous that it takes that long given what they actually do (not a long process, at all). I’ll just say that it can’t be any worse than obtaining a security clearance…

  22. This is nothing more than a gun control measure, delay, delay and discourage other from applying. These checks should not take more than a week. There is an agenda to discourage law abiding gun owners from obtaining SBR’s and suppressors, however it is having the reverse effect. In an unrelated issue, in the western states, law enforcement officers and most administrations (delete Calif) still know and support the constitution. The sheriff in my county has publicly stated that they will not be enforcing any of Obama’s firearm restriction mandates. Go to almost any Western rural police department or sheriff’s office and you will find that almost the entire rank and file have purchased personal (not department owned) AR15’s. This should tell you something!

  23. The 9 month wait is fairly accurate currently. I have a customer that’s on month 8 and his should be back this week or next. It’s actually quite ridiculous however… what can you do? This wait is actually why i’m considering selling off my NFA P90 to another dealer… if it takes 3 months and i can’t get ammo for it anyways why keep it around?

    The other thing that’s a problem (which in my eyes is the big part of the issue) there are only a handful of NFA workers. Last time i looked for Kansas we’ve got one gal that approves for us along with six other states. SEVEN STATES worth of applications all riding on one workers shoulders… That’s not fair to her or us.

    Granted that link is a year old now, but the point is still valid. TEN total workers for all of the forms that flow to the NFA…. You wonder why things take so long? There’s your answer.

  24. The give this as one of the excuses as to why it takes so long: “ATF also must ensure that a proposed transfer would not violate State or local law in the transferee’s place of residence.”

    That is B.S. since we get the Sheriff to sign of on it first.

  25. Repeal

    – Remove the 68 Import Restriction and felony rules (last is state think)
    – 86 Re Open Full Auto Register
    – Remove SBR/SBS, AoW, Suppressors and Destructive Device Caliber Size so thats only full auto and abc device/ammo is regulated on goverment basic.
    – Allow states to honored Firearm Freedom Act state “only” weapons in same art as ccw !!
    – Remove the School Gun Free Zone Act 🙂
    – States can T prohibited an registert nfa device – that was another big mistake i think. Maxiumum restriction must the registered form for anti gun states as new york, california ……

    Fight !!

    • I like this guy… I know a while back there was a deal on the .gov site for getting everything but machine guns off of the nfa items list. Go figure it didn’t gain enough support.

      Hell it’ll never pass anyways even if it did. The taxes they get are far too much of a revenue stream for them.

  26. NFA TRANSFER TIMES: 9 months? I thought O’Shea and Brown had a “close” working relationship in a new era of cooperation since the opened shop? BTW, NFATCA has reduced membership prices….

  27. I Have Called The ATF on my formm 4 they said appov time is 5 mouths,, then when it is you go to the NICS check,,, They do need to get more folks,, When i get this approv, Iam done buying this sucks


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