By John Brown
Most of us have witnessed the massive migration forward in the speed and efficiency that the NFA Branch has offered our community during the past few years. At the April Knob Creek we took the time and effort to give special thanks to Ken Houchens for his never ending struggle to work with the NFATCA and our entire community in improving the level of service that the NFA Branch provides. Ken, like most heroes, was quick to draw the focus, and the real thanks, on his troops for getting the actual work accomplished. Let there be no mistake, no finer battles have been won if it were not for the tireless work of the soldiers responsible for executing the battle plan, under a smart commander.
At Knob Creek we took a special opportunity to thank Ken, as a community, and present him with an award from the NFATCA in the form of beautiful plaque for his accomplishments. In addition to the award for Ken, the Board of Directors presented awards to the NFA Branch staff, examiners, and other team members for the monumental efforts they have produced in improving the entire process for the community. It was a pleasure to meet with them in Martinsburg and express our gratitude for their efforts since the move. In a special meeting with the NFA Branch, NFATCA board members met, along with executives from ATF, with the staff to commend their efforts and present the awards for their performance benefiting our community.
In 2002, the average Form 4 took over 250 days to process. Today, that same form takes about 32 days to make it through the same system. In five years the NFA Branch has reduced the amount of time it takes to process a transfer by 218 days. In simple terms the NFA Branch has cut the transfer processing on Form 4s by over 7 months.
For the dealer community the news is even more phenomenal. In 2004, dealers would see an average Form 3 transfers take just over 60 days. Today, there are numerous times when Form 3s have been approved the very same day and refaxed back to the dealer for transfer. The overall average is about 5 days for a full Form 3 transfer. Once again, this is an amazing feat that should not go unrecognized. With the NFA Branch processing over 281,226 NFA weapons in 2006, the results are proof positive that this team can and does get the job done. Everyone in the entire NFA community should take a little special effort to thank them for the tremendous efforts underway at the branch. As amazing as it seems, we understand there are even more improvements coming that will make life easier for the entire NFA community.
A lot of good information is available to our community on the sheer numbers that the NFA Branch has accomplished. Ken Houchens has been very generous in making certain that the facts and information have been available to our rank and file. Ask anyone that has attended an NFATCA meeting where copies of the information have been distributed. The numbers are staggering for a success story.
On another note, the problems we see for processing forms in Martinsburg are still plagued by mistakes from our own community. Many Form 4s are still hand written and as many as 50% of the Form 4s that are submitted are incomplete and have to make the return trip for correction. We are amazed to hear that bad checks are still an issue. The clean-up process is still underway and every NFA dealer in the county is working diligently to help correct the problems associated with the input on any form. We want to remind the entire community that processing issues are still haunted by the old programming slang “garbage in, garbage out.” Let’s all work together and help clean up how we submit. It is painfully apparent that the processing issues are well ahead of our game and the total streamlining of forms in the future will rely almost entirely on our community policing the input. We must continue to work on our end to help in cleaning up the entire process. We all have a lot of work to do, but in the spirit of excellence we can achieve that together.
Join the NFATCA today and help with our efforts to make our community strong. We are the bridge making a stronger union with our community and ATF. For more information, visit www.nfatca.org.
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