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NFATCA Report: NFATCA Works to Develop the Firearms Technology Branch Procedures Manual
By John Brown

With several hundred copies of the NFA Handbook in gun owner’s hands, the success of this project speaks volumes. For only $20 you can purchase a three ring binder that allows you quick reference to over 200 pages of NFA law and information. Such a comprehensive collection of information has never before been available in one place. Purchasers of the handbook will be kept on a list so that they can subscribe, for a nominal fee, to get the updates to the handbook as they are issued. Members of the NFATCA board are already working on revisions for the first update that will be delivered in the spring of 2008. Included will be many changes and updates as well as a comprehensive index to assist owners in quickly finding information they need on NFA procedures.

With the release of the NFA handbook, the NFATCA and the Firearms Technology Branch are off and running on the development of the Firearms Technology Branch (FTB) Procedures Manual. Many of the issues addressed in the NFA Handbook have raised questions and have made it critical that we begin the process of developing this newest manual.

Let’s be clear that the Firearms Technology Branch of ATF has been working for many years to address standard procedures and issue policy on the many issues facing dealers, manufacturers, collectors, and gun owners. For a number of years now the best firearms attorneys in the country have worked with many of the larger and smaller manufacturers in addressing issues critical to the industry. There is no question that FTB has done their homework and a lot of information is already available when you ask for it. But FTB is so busy with a host of other issues that affect all gun owners that taking on the task to develop and publish an FTB procedures manual is not on the menu anytime in the near future. So the story went for the NFA Handbook. Being short on staff and overburdened with hundreds of daily requests would make it impossible for FTB to place the required resources on a project of such magnitude. The NFATCA has teamed up with FTB to develop the plan, assimilate the resources and to publish the natural follow-on to the NFA Handbook.

The process began by developing a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between FTB and the NFATCA before we could begin the process. This documentserves as the formal agreement between the two teams on who is doing what and where the responsibilities fall. At the time of the initiation of the MOU we must give a lot of credit to Acting FTB Branch Chief Richard Vasquez for helping to push the process along and get this off the ground. With his already busy schedule, Rick lent an enormous amount of time to the effort and we owe him a huge round of applause for his efforts. Once the MOU was completed the NFATCA met with FTB to quickly organize appropriate resources and to develop a preliminary outline on what we expect to address with this undertaking.

Like the NFA handbook, our primary objective with the FTB Procedures Manual will focus on addressing what many of you in the industry refer to as standard operating procedures. We want to make certain that the things we need the most for reference are provided to the community to clear up any misunderstandings that we may have in the industry. We want to document the things we think we already understand and know. The problem most of us experience is that this information is not always readily available so we will solve that problem first.

Our next steps will focus on developing information from many members of our own community concerning interests or concerns that you may have about the right way to do things in the firearms business. Manufacturing, repair, replacement, and many other issues will be addressed to hopefully clear up a lot of information and understanding on proper procedures. To address this portion of the FTB Procedures Manual, many of you will be asked to help us determine what the critical issues are and those that need the most attention. Likewise, we will work closely with all members of FTB to determine where they think we need the most information, or where they experience the biggest problems. Like working with the examiners at the NFA Branch, we will take this opportunity to get the resources at FTB to tell us their side of the story and help bring forth information that will be a huge help for all concerned.

As we gather all of the information, NFATCA board members will actually write the text and begin the collaborative review process with FTB. As we develop the information watch for future articles describing the specifics on our progress.

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