Industry News
By Robert M. Hausman

After a very quiet summer and lackluster autumn sales season, firearms industry sales became electrified in late October when it became evident that the Democrats would win the White House on Election Day.

Coming just six months after a landmark Supreme Court ruling confirming that the Second Amendment affirms and protects a fundamental individual civil right to keep and bear arms (which probably initially caused many gun owners to lapse into complacency thinking that the gun rights battle had been “won”), America is now faced with an incoming administration that the NRA calls “the most anti-gun in history”.

Far too many red flags have now been raised even for those who were supporters of Barack Obama during the campaign having relied on his vague statements of support for Americans right to keep and bear arms without ever going into specifics.

For those who could bypass the sophisticated, well-financed marketing campaign that delivered the Oval Office to Obama and had taken the time to do some research, they would have discovered that President-elect Obama is on record as supporting gun registration, permanent renewal of the federal ban on so-called “assault weapons”, adding an exorbitant increase to the federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition, undoing “shall issue” concealed carry legislation in the states and banning handgun ownership outright. Vice president-elect, Delaware Senator Joe Biden, a veteran gun-banner, is the actual author of the original federal “assault weapons” ban legislation.

Obama’s staff appointments in recent weeks have further driven gun and ammo sales. Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff who was the former point man for the Clinton Administration on gun control issues and Eric Holder, his nominee for U.S. Attorney General, also a former Clinton Administration official, formerly used the power of the U.S. State Department’s import regulation authority to stifle the imports of firearms and ammunition for American shooters and collectors. Holder also signed an amicus brief in support of the Washington, D.C. gun ban.

The more the Democrats talk about “change” the more things actually stay the same - or actually regress. By bringing back anti-gun stalwarts from the Clinton Administration, there can be no doubt of what the new administration has in store for America’s gun owners. And that is why firearms sales, particularly tactical models, have spiked. Mail order ammunition marketers who sell in case lots also report sales have gone through the roof as Americans begin to hoard ammo in anticipation of surplus ammo import bans and the imposition of high ammo taxes on domestic products from the new Administration.

ATF Announces the Release of the e-Form 4473

The ATF has released an electronic ATF Form 4473 (5300.9), Firearms Transaction Record Part I, Over-the-Counter, in response to requests from the firearms industry. FFLs may download the e-Form 4473 from the ATF Web site at www.atf.gov/applications/e4473/.

The e-Form 4473 is an automated software program designed to reduce errors and identify omissions through the use of prompts in the accurate completion of the form. Through the use of pop-ups and warnings, FFLs are alerted to possible prohibited transactions, helping to ensure that firearms are kept out of the hands of prohibited persons.

The most prominent benefits of using e-Form 4473 are its ability to identify the omission of required information and assistance in preventing the transfer of a firearm(s) to prohibited persons. Though the information is entered into a computer, the information will be printed onto paper, and will replicate an ATF Form 4473, which is reviewed and certified by both the seller and purchaser. Using these techniques, the e-Form 4473 helps minimize errors and omissions, and alerts the FFL to possible prohibited sales (i.e. felons, underage purchasers, etc., or answers which indicate possible prohibited purchasers).

The software is compatible with most personal computers or Macintosh workstations and can be integrated into many Point-of-Sale (POS) systems. No fee is required to download the form. Once downloaded, it is not tied to any ATF computer system, and no information on e-Form 4473 is transmitted to ATF.

Once FFLs have accessed the ATF e-Form 4473 website they will be able to:
  • reference the list of System Requirements and Supporting Software
  • access links to download the supportive software
  • access the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) section
  • obtain support via email e4473@atf.gov
  • download and install the ATF e-Form 4473 program on their computers. (While you may get a message that states that the time it takes to download the application is rather lengthy. The actual download will only take 3-5 minutes.)
  • download copies of the e-Form 4473 User’s Manual, Seller’s Quick Reference Guide, and the Buyer’s Quick Reference Guide.

ATF Ruling 2008-3:

ATF Ruling 2008-03 allows FFLs to use any electronic 4473 (ATF’s or any commercial software product) provided it meets some basic criteria as outlined in the ruling. Under this ruling, if a licensee meets the basic criteria, a licensee will not have to request a variance to use any electronic 4473. The FFL must still comply with all law and regulation requirements. (http://www.atf.gov/firearms/rules/index.htm).

ATF will continue to seek and welcome feedback from users on further enhancing its electronic forms.

Sensation Over Palm Pistol Results in Loss of FDA Classification

The recent flurry of media attention on a new and unique, but as yet not on the market firearm product to be called the “Palm Pistol” has resulted in the Food and Drug Administration withdrawing and canceling its classification of the firearm as a “Class I Medical Device” as such is defined in the federal Food, Drugs and Cosmetic Act. The brief six day period (from December 2 to 8) when the pistol was registered with the FDA, was probably the first time ever that a firearm was listed as a medical device.

The single shot 9mm pistol is intended to be marketed by Constitution Arms, a New Jersey firm headed by Matthew Carmel who is in the process of gathering investors and hopes to have the unique single-shot design in production by the year 2010. The pistol is an ergonomically novel double-action only defensive firearm that uses the thumb for firing pin release instead of the index finger. Being somewhat oval in shape, with trigger releases at its top and bottom ends, and a protruding barrel, the device does not look anything like a firearm. However, Carmel has a letter from the ATF Firearms Technology Branch stating that his invention does not meet the definition of an Any Other Weapon, and thus could be sold subject to the same regulations as any common handgun.

Despite the declassification of his design as a medical device by the FDA, which may be appealed, Carmel says he is still moving ahead with his plans to design and produce the Palm Pistol. One major group to which the pistol is intended to be marketed is to handicapped individuals with limited ability to use their hands as the device may readily be used by those with limited finger and hand mobility.

Carmel had hoped to obtain a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Durable Medical Equipment (DME) coding for the Palm Pistol. Among the conditions to be met to obtain this coding is that the device “primarily be used to serve a medical purpose” and is “suitable for use in the home.” Carmel’s argument says that his device meets this definition.

Carmel believes his pistol meets this definition as the medical purpose served is the extension of life expectancy - i.e. “all living individuals are subject to the ‘injury’ of shortened life expectancy due to loss of life from criminal assault and it (the pistol) most assuredly is appropriate for use in the home. An additional function of the device is prevention of sudden onset death” (such as from a criminal attack) “analogous to the benefits offered by on-body alarm systems which permit independent unassisted living without the need for Certified Nursing Assistants.”

Carmel added, “If we are successful in obtaining DME coding, it is possible the medically-prescribed purchase of the Palm Pistol will be reimbursable by Medicare or private health insurances companies for qualified insured’s!”

The declassification of the pistol by the FDA has put a halt to Carmel’s efforts to obtain DME coding.

More details on the design and additional information can be found on line at www.palmpistol.com.

The author publishes two of the small arms industry’s most widely read trade newsletters. The International Firearms Trade covers the world firearms scene, and The New Firearms Business covers the domestic market. Visit www.FirearmsGroup.com. He may be reached at: FirearmsB@aol.com.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V12N6 (March 2009)
and was posted online on June 29, 2012


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