NFATCA Report: The Slow Roll of Progress
By John Brown

Nearly six years ago we started the process of developing an agenda and beginning the process of working closely with ATF on a number of programs that would be beneficial for both the industry and the bureau. Over the last six years we have made many accomplishments and have salvaged many issues that faced the entire community. Most of you will remember the debacle surrounding the controversy over the FNC sears and the resolution was a major collaborative effort between ATF and the NFATCA. Many other issues have been joint efforts that have given both organizations the drive to continue to work together. Major issues included publishing the NFA Handbook and the initiation of the Firearms Technology Branch Handbook stand out as major representations of our efforts working together.

Unfortunately, 2009 was the year of the slow roll. At the close of the year nearly a dozen issues that the NFATCA has worked on with ATF have made little if no headway. We first lost the former Director of ATF, Michael Sullivan and the position was left vacant for nearly six months. Many of us in both ATF and the industry were anxious about his replacement. At mid year we saw a new acting Director, Kenneth Melson. The next loss was the retirement of the Assistant Director, Carson Carroll. As many of you will remember Carson was the first person that made the announcement that ATF would explore the possibility of another amnesty for the industry. That investigation and the effort to explore the potential for an amnesty is now in the hands of the acting Director and his staff. Shortly after Carson Carroll retired we got the news that Billy Hoover was promoted to the position of Assistant Director, especially good news for everyone. Almost simultaneously we received the news that the Director of Field Operations, Jim Zamillo, would be retiring in early 2010. To make a long story short, the industry lost a lot of good relationships in 2009. We maintained some good relationships already in place and saw new faces, like Billy Hoover, move into positions where they could truly make a difference. In short we did gain some personnel that are still working their way through many of the issues that the NFAFCA has presented.

The only problem with the slow roll is that most of the recommendations that the NFATCA made in 2009 almost came to a complete stall. What hasn’t landed on ATF counsel’s desk has landed on a desk where there is a vacancy. So we wait and continue to work additional issues in parallel with what seems an eternity. Everything from the definition of manufacturing to not to mark variance regulations, to better definition of small arms ammunition and the Safe Explosive Act seems to be sitting somewhere with little or no action.

In 2009 the NFATCA met with many of the other industry representatives to secure help in working these issues to make certain that we had the industry’s best interests at heart. As many of you know, we worked closely with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the F.A.I.R. Trade group and the National Rifle Association in addressing many of the issues that faced the entire industry. During 2009, as a result of all the collaborative efforts, the NFATCA brought forward nearly a dozen issues mentioned earlier. Thus, we have pronounced 2009 as the year of the slow roll. Many issues have been organized and placed formally in the hands of our working counterparts within the Bureau. Like many private organizations experiencing a loss of talent at the top of the management team, it can slow things down to a crawl. We have met with acting Director Melson and he knows the agenda all too well. Even in his position, there is a lack of support with the retirement of Carson Carroll, Jim Zamillo and who knows what other talent we may lose in 2010.

So at this point the NFATCA would like to make it clear to everyone that we are making progress; albeit slow in 2009. The often heard expression “nothing good comes easy” is certainly true in matters that pertain to the NFATCA working with the Bureau in 2009. As we move forward in 2010, we will keep everyone posted on the progress and most importantly the objectives that the NFATCA and ATF set for the coming year. We do this together as a team in an effort to promote industry/government cooperation in a world that works better when we all have the same objectives. In light of the current administration, this is the kind of cooperation we need more than ever.

The coming year will be busy for every one of us and we look forward to continued support from the entire community. Come join us and make a difference with your knowledge, expertise and much needed experience. Contact us at www.nfatca.org for more information.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V13N4 (January 2010)
and was posted online on May 11, 2012


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