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.