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NFATCA Report: The National Firearms Registry and Transfer Record (NFRTR) “PAY ATTENTION”
By John Brown

In late 2006, we ran an article on the then recent investigation that the Office of the Inspector General performed on the NFRTR. In that article we asked everyone to pay close attention to the forms and the information that is contained on those forms that anyone submits to the ATF. That one article didn’t seem to hit home with a lot of people, so we are going to hit some key points on the forms and make some suggestions that will make a lot of sense to most of you.

One of the age-old issues that we all have faced is to make certain that all of the information that you complete on a new form is identical to the information on the old. While sounding like a good idea, the real problem with this strategy is not only do we pass up an opportunity to correct old problems but we increase the odds of adding new problems. Just because a form has inaccurate information doesn’t give anyone an excuse to exacerbate the problem. If something is wrong, and you know it’s wrong, then correct it. Continuing to pass along mistakes only insures that someone else will come along in a year or two and inadvertently make another mistake making a bad situation even worse. What we want to do is correct anything and everything we possibly can at every opportunity that we have. In section 4, “Description of the Firearm,” all of the information that can make a major difference in helping to correct errors in the NFRTR is contained in sections “4.a” though “4.g.” In this section we want to take every opportunity to review and correct if necessary, any and all issues pertinent to the firearm.

Section 4.a: Name and Address of Manufacturer and/ or Importer of Firearm:

In this section the requirement is relatively simple. Make certain that you review the information on the old form, or the new form, and insure that all of the information is accurate and as detailed as possible. At this stage, please make certain that you correct any errors or omissions as possible.

Section 4.b: Type of Firearm

In many of the commercial off the shelf programs, users will generally find pull down menus allowing you to select whether this firearm is one of the following categories:
  • Any other Weapon (AOW)
  • Destructive Device (DD)
  • Machine Gun
  • Short Barreled Rifle (SBR)
  • Short Barreled Shotgun (SBS)
  • Silencer

Section 4.c: Caliber, Gauge, or Size

Check to make certain that all of the information required for this section is complete.

Section 4.d: Model

Make certain that all alpha and numeric characters that represent the model are accurately recorded in this section. Insure that as much information as possible from the receiver of the NFA weapon is accurately depicted in this section.

Section 4.e: Length of Barrel

In this section, please insure that the barrel length on your Form 4 matches the exact barrel length on the firearm you are either shipping or receiving. We will address the ton of questions that you have concerning this issue in another article.

Section 4.f: Length Overall

In this section you want to make certain that you take exacting measurements on the total length on the firearm you are either shipping or receiving.

Section 4.g: Serial Number

Obviously this section is absolutely critical. Please make certain that you examine the NFA item in question and validate each alpha or numeric character and validate that the serial number matches exactly.

The most important issue here is to make certain that we pay attention to the details on any of the forms that we provide the NFA Branch. Today, nearly 40% of the forms that are being handled by the Branch still contain some sort of error or omission that requires the form to be returned for correction. We can all spend a little more time and attention to the detail and get it right the first time.

In addition to the time and attention issue, every dealer and collector in our community should pay attention to the details of the weapon itself. In this process we recommend that you look closely at exactly what is happening with this transfer. Use a little common sense and ask for help when you need it when something is in question. If it doesn’t seem to be right you are probably correct. Check it out with another dealer or consult with the NFA Branch for help.

In summary, we all want to work together to help clean up the NFRTR. The NFRTR follows the old technology adage of “garbage in, garbage out.” Fortunately, the problems with the NFRTR can be straightened out, but only with the help of the industry and ATF. Let’s all work together to make that happen.

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