By John Brown
The NFATCA was formed in 2003 with the intent of breaking down the barriers that have held the industry back from working closely with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE). We formed this group with the intent of alleviating many of the fears that legitimate NFA dealers, collectors and manufacturers have with one of the most powerful enforcement agencies in our Federal Government. We also formed the organization with the intent of eliminating a lot of the fears that we all have by better understanding ATF regulations and the policies that affect owners, manufacturers, collectors and dealers nationwide. Most importantly our mission was to establish the right relationships with the right management personnel within ATF to allow us the opportunity to sit at a table and discuss policy and ruling issues that potentially stand in our way of making progress in building a rock solid relationship with the bureau and the public. I can say today that getting inside, establishing the right relationships, and in many cases starting a relationship that depends on trust in working with one another has been one of the many great successes that both organizations have worked diligently to create. Yet, there are still those in the industry ranks that think that the NFATCA has abandoned the cause and has flipped over to a double agent status. Unfortunately, those same people have never taken the time to spend the twenty dollars to see what we have accomplished together and read the NFA Handbook, now in its third edition.
We have found that it is truly all about the relationships and how we work together on the issues at hand. This year has had its successes and its frustrations with the many items that we set as objectives to accomplish in late 2008. For the first time in history, the two organizations sat together and developed an agenda of “Things to Accomplish.” We started out with a list of about a dozen issues that included everything from getting rid of the outdated CLEO signature to picking up the idea from the Assistant Director Carson Carroll of investigating the potential for a new amnesty for NFA weapons. That suggestion by Carson was a result of discussions that been held inside the Bureau with the NFATCA. That discussion and many of the issues that have been discussed are a result of everyone realizing that there is a benefit from all of us working together. The good news is that not only is the idea of working together benefitting both organizations but the power of working together is phenomenal. ATF is learning how to better focus energies on regulations and the NFATCA is learning how to better keep the industry understanding regulations and working together to modify regulations and move ahead with change with common goals.
The frustration that we have experienced this year is the loss of some darn good talent that dug in and was determined to work with the industry. This year the Director, Michael Sullivan, left to return to Boston and has now joined a prestigious law firm. His presence was very powerful and we will all miss him. In addition to losing Director Sullivan we have also lost the Assistant Director Carson Carroll, who dug in with the Bureau and the industry and was initiating some major changes. Carson and the former Director’s leaving have set the pace back a bit but all is not lost. Moving in are now two extremely prominent figures that have been working diligently with the industry to effect change. The newly appointed Assistant Director Billy Hoover and the newly appointed Acting Director Kenneth Melson have both welcomed the NFATCA with open arms. Mr. Hoover has a long track record with us and has been a friend of the NFATCA for a long while. We wish both the best of luck in their future endeavors.
Another tremendous loss for the industry coming in early 2009 will be the retirement of the Director of Field Operations Jim Zamillo. Jim has been working with the NFATCA to assist in our development of a “new dealer” training program. Jim will be missed among the ranks after his retirement and we also want to wish him the best.
So with all of the changes that we have had, and will see this year and next, moving the ball forward is a challenging and sometimes frustrating experience. It is, however, the job that we have chosen to uphold; working to continue to broaden the relationship and work together to create a better future for all.
On a positive note we would like to mention the tremendous successes that have occurred in 2009 as a result of working together. First, the National Firearms Act (NFA) Branch and the Firearms Technology Branch (FTB) are due many thanks for their tireless work in contributing to both the NFA Handbook and the FTB Handbook. In addition to the tremendous workload that both Branches have, the development of such a powerful resource is due to the tireless efforts of both organizations working with the NFATCA to capture the information we all need to successfully operate our businesses. The energies and the efforts of both FTB Chief John Spencer and Assistant Branch Chief Rick Vasquez are due a tremendous amount of thanks from the industry. Both are working tirelessly to clarify issues and to better work the thousands of issues that come into focus weekly from the industry. In addition we also want to recognize the efforts of NFA Branch Chief Steve Albro and Specialist Ernie Lintner for their tireless efforts in managing the thousands of transfers that are handled every month for the industry. The resources in both of these critical branches are hopefully stable for many years to come.
As with anything in life, if there is one thing that you are guaranteed, it is change. For the NFATCA, change is the one thing that we know from day to day will continue to make our efforts both challenging and frustrating. The one thing that the industry can know for sure is that there has been and will continue to be a constant within the NFATCA, its leadership. Our board is and continues to be constant in an ever changing political climate. That stability is a strength that is uncompromised and will remain so for as long as it is necessary to stand up for the industry that we represent. Our strength is in our numbers and these grow day by day, week by week. Our leadership is strong, constant, and ever vigilant in looking out for your interests. This leadership and the relationship that we have created is the only thing that is representing both ATF and Industry efforts uniformly.
Time to join the ranks of the NFATCA, wouldn’t you say? Log on today at www.nfatca.org and join us today.
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