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Renewing My FFL03: Day 318


Back when I lived in Fairfax, VA, before my illustrious writing career began, I had an FFL 03 — a license to collect firearms over 50 years old. Having one is pretty awesome — anything over 50 years old can be shipped right to your door (click here for info on how to get one). And life was good. My move to Texas happened to coincide with the FFL’s expiration, so I simply sent in the $30 renewal fee and filled out the change of address form. That was over a year ago . . .

Since then, I’ve been accused of a felony by the ATF, had my paperwork “lost,” and generally been given the run-around in terms of getting re-upped. Yesterday, I sent in the third duplicate application in an attempt to get everything finally resolved. I’m generally a patient man, but this is getting ridiculous.

I don’t blame the ATF guy in charge of the application, he seems like a legitimately nice guy. I don’t blame the licensing department, as every time I’ve called or asked for help, they’ve bent over backwards to assist me. I blame Congress.

The ATF is supposed to be the entity in charge of the firearms in the United States. They run the licensing mechanism, they coordinate the importation process, and they enforce federal firearms laws. But for their mission, they are massively underfunded and understaffed.

Take the NFA branch for example. A simple form 4 should take about an hour to process, and net the government $200 in revenue. Yet the waiting line is currently about 9 months long.

From where I’m standing, the system appears to be designed to fail. As much as Democrats love to point to the Taihrt amendment that bans the CDC from publishing pro-gun control propaganda as an example of using congressional funding for political ends, it looks to me like the Democrats are doing the exact same thing to the ATF. They want it to fail, to up the body count, to do nothing to decrease gun related crimes, so that they can justify new gun control laws.

Is the ATF perfect? Nope. Should it be rolled into the FBI? Definitely. But while it exists, Congress should at the very least give it enough funding to carry out its basic missions.


  1. avatar Blehtastic says:

    Any funding they get is going to jack-booted thugs. I’d rather they not have more of those.

    1. Amen! ATF should be defended, disbanded, and all of the federal gun laws should be repealed.

      1. avatar DavidT says:

        I think you mean “defunded”, but we understand the concept you were trying to get across. And I agree whole-heartedly with you, make them go away, some of them to jail for a long time.

        1. Yes, of course … Damned spell check on the iPad got me again.

  2. avatar Accur81 says:

    It’s fine by me if the ATF is completely defunded.

  3. avatar TC says:

    If you were looking to just ship your guns to Mexico, the ATF would have had your license ready in about 15 minutes.

  4. avatar Daniel Silverman says:

    WOW almost a year!!
    That is one GodZilla Face Palm = EPIC FAIL right there

    Not on you Nick, on the government…

  5. avatar louis Ringe says:

    I had an FFL in California and renewed when I moved to Texas. I have however found, that the inspectors make up rules on some of the inspections since I came to Texas.

  6. avatar Mark N. says:

    If it was redevoted to its regulatory mission instead of it pseudo law enforcement efforts, there woujld be plent of money to fund paper pushers.

  7. avatar William says:

    Thank you for showing who you actually are shilling for, Nick: the OPPRESSORS. You’re suspect from this day forward.

    You think it’s designed to fail. Yet you support same. That’s known as unintentional self-disclosure.

    If I’ve failed to understand you, I’m sorry. Right now, I think I’ve understood you too well.

    1. avatar Jim Barrett says:


      I think that Nick’s point is that if the government is going to create a gate keeper system that one must go through to get FFLs, Form 1 and Form 4 materials, etc., then they need to at least fund it properly. Nick has said on more than one occasion that he’d be perfectly happy to see these gates go away entirely. But that’s not happening. So, since we must bear with a crappy system imposed on us, we certainly have the right to bitch when the imposed system is not even set up properly.

      1. avatar benny says:

        +1 for Jim.
        Sometimes you gotta work with the cards you were dealt. The ATF isn’t gonna go away any time soon. That being said, they need to operate the way they should or go away entirely. I was always taught half assing does less than if you didn’t do anything at all. The atf is no exception.

    2. avatar Matt in FL says:

      This will probably get deleted, but it needs to be said:

      You’re a colossal idiot.

      1. avatar Steve in MA says:

        “prick” sounds better, Matt. Idiot is too nice

    3. avatar kalel666 says:

      Lighten up, Francis.

  8. avatar APBTFan says:

    If ATF gets more funding the last thing they will spend that money on is more paper pushers to expedite renewals.

    1. avatar JMS says:

      +1. I don’t know how anybody could think otherwise.

  9. avatar JSIII says:

    I say get rid of the ATF. Fold their “mission” into the DEA and FBI. Gets rid of a lot of front office staff and brings funding to two agemcies that work a touch better than the ATF.

    1. avatar Sixpack70 says:

      It won’t happen because of the fiefdom mentality or government agencies.

  10. avatar Frank Williams says:

    That’s almost as much fun as dealing with the VA. I’ve been waiting TWO years for them to make a decision on a claim.

  11. avatar Wyatt says:

    Probably a note on your account or in your file to direct all new paperwork to the circular file.

    That’s what you get for tussling with unaccountable bureaucrats.

  12. avatar Joel says:

    Same story here, minus the felony. They lost my paperwork when I initially applied for my 03FFL and now they keep losing it as I try to update my new address.

  13. avatar pk in AZ says:


    Them fine folks who gave us “Fast and Furious”…

    1. avatar Cornelius says:

      … and Waco, and Ruby Ridge, and numerous headaches for the law-abiding gun owners, shop owners, and manufacturers.

  14. avatar CZ-PA says:

    I really don’t see the ATF using additional funding wisely. Any additional resources would more likely be used to stomp down a little harder on the necks of responsible gun owners.

    1. avatar My Name Is Bob says:

      ^ This.

  15. avatar Stephen says:

    The core issue is that the ATF shouldn’t exist.

    I see your point with them needing better funding and staffing. But at the same time, it also sounds like it is legitimizing the false premise of its existence. It sounds like a call to expand government. Cring inducing.

  16. avatar Ralph says:

    Nick, funding for the paperpushers at ATF is like Social Security “Trust Funds.” It’s a myth. If Congress authorized more money for the people who handle the 03s and Form 4s, the dough would just be syphoned off to feed the rest of the beast.

    The Federal government is the world’s most prolific and powerful thief. It’s a crime family, and the ATF are its hitmen.

  17. avatar Hasdrubal says:

    Federal incompetence is probably universal, and not just limited to FFL and NFA papers. I know of people who work in aerospace who have been as much as three years behind on Top Secret clearance renewals with everything done on time on their end.

  18. avatar Jim D says:

    Nick, you must wonder if it has anything to do with your involvement on TTAG? Nah, they would never do that…….

    1. avatar benny says:

      HA! Hit the nail on the head there bro!

  19. avatar pat says:

    Most of the people who work at the ATF are most probably good people, but the agency really should be broken up and put into proper areas with certain job applications dropped all together.

  20. avatar Crunkleross says:

    I guess I’ll supply a counterpoint. In over 30 years I’ve never had a problem at all with the ATF, neither as a FFL or during my law enforcement days. Sometimes I can’t understand the fast talking northern gals at the NICS center, but I have ringing worn out old southern country boy ears. I really wouldn’t want to see the FBI to take over, I’d rather see them stick with criminal investigation, the BATF is mostly a tax collection agency. I do agree they could use some improvement.

  21. avatar Jim D says:

    Nick, the paperwork is on the way, they are still applying annoying little popups to the bottom of each page, if you know what I mean….;^)

  22. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    This is a perfect example of the “perfect government” fallacy. I cannot tell you how many people I know who think government is perfect and everything government does is moral, just, expedient, and competent … except when government is not moral, just, expedient, and competent.

    Can you imagine the uproar if someone registered to vote and it took 300+ days and a few hundred dollars before they could actually vote?

  23. avatar elnonio says:

    I think the error is trying to do the right thing and update an ongoing renewal, then letting them know of a move, then again trying to get them caught up.

    Best COA would have been to send a fresh application, without any reference to the prior one, once you got to Texas. Nowhere does it say that you have to renew before it lapses. You can get a license, do your 3 years, let it lapse, no requirement to keep that bound book (IIRC). Then apply for a new license, open a new, fresh bound book, and start faxing your new FFL which under normal circumstances takes about a month.

  24. avatar Tim U says:

    If you’re going to fund the ATF for the paperwork people, you need to do massive surgery to the ATF and remove everything else from their office.

    Any additional funding to the ATF won’t go to the “good guys” (or at least the not malevolent ones) in the ATF – it goes right to the jack booted thugs who like to murder people and their dogs for fun, and set fire to houses with their targets still inside. It will go to the people whose job it is to harass and intimidate gun owners, and your 9 month wait will still be 9 months. Or more.

    I fully support disbanding the ATF and rolling it into the FBI. And even then, the only thing it does is the paperwork/licensing involved FFLs/NFA items. And even then, that’s only until we can get those repealed.

    1. avatar Hal says:

      Or better yet; no more paperwork or restrictions for SBRs, Suppressors, etc. Then defund and disband the entire lousy, no-good lot of them and put them and their families on the street.

      Ruby Ridge, Waco, Fast and Furious. All this from an agency who is supposed to be regulating booze (prohibition repealed), tobacco (who the fvck cares) and firearms and explosives (the possession and ownership of all infantry-level arms are a civil right subject neither to the democratic process nor arguments grounded in social utility).

      Well screw that. I cannot think of a single aspect of their agency that should exist at all with the exception of their bomb squad that can be absorbed by another agency.

  25. avatar Mrbadnews says:

    It funny that your first post on dealing with the ATF, you mention Kevin Mitnick. Guys like Mitnick are going to be our mainline of defense against tyranny and our new heroes if the 2A gets destroyed. I don’t have that guy’s skills,.. but now I’m wishing I did.

  26. avatar JustAJ says:

    “Congress should at the very least give it enough funding to carry out its basic missions”

    I say someone should look into why they continue to fail to do their job on basic issues (like processing paperwork) yet find the time to run a multi year surveillance, do a full on raid and confiscation, yet not charge the person with any crime.

    If I went to my boss and told him I needed a raise to be able to do my job, I’d probably have to find a new job. Yet somehow, the .gov agencies just keep on getting raises in the form of more taxpayer dollars, with little to no appreciable return. If you can’t use your existing budget properly, then you don’t deserve the budget you have, let alone “more”.

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