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Breaking News: OMB asks for input on dropping CLEO Signature on forms! This is at the “Proposed Rule” Stage
By The Small Arms Review Editorial Staff

The long awaited “Drop the law Enforcement certification on individual transfers” action is coming up. The step we have been waiting for, is when the OMB posts a notice of rule-making. DOJ requested this, and there is a comment period where you can weigh in on this with opinion or suggestion. If it doesn’t get shot down now, they’ll change all Form 1,4,5 to remove the LE certs! This is at the “Almost done” phase...

Parts 1, and 2 address the current issue of there not being a responsible person checked for Corporations, Trusts, LLCs and other legal entities when possessing and transferring in NFA firearms. Rumor has it this has allowed a number of felons, including those with violent felonies, to obtain machine guns and silencers. The government has been planning on acting on this issue for some time. It would appear that the chief officer of the applying entity will be backgrounded etc, and will probably have to sign off that there are no felons or proscribed persons who can gain access to the firearms. Penalty of Perjury type cert.

Part 3 requires that a copy of the form be sent to the Chief Law Enforcement Officer local to the applicant- but does not specify in this text whether that is after approval, before approval, or who does this. There is some question regarding the forms containing tax information and this being given out to a non federal agency, but it has always been provided by the applicant to the CLEO since inception of signature, and this has never been an issue brought up tax-wise. We SUSPECT that the applicant will be required to send a copy to the CLEO, thus side-stepping any tax disclosure questions. (The ideal situation if this is the case, is that the applicant sends a copy of the already approved form to the CLEO with a cover letter from ATF explaining this is legal) There is currently a move to rescind that 1970s era law protecting tax info from local LE, it is based on massive identity fraud issues, but that’s another discussion. The “dissemination of tax info” restriction is only holding on federal agencies. It’s much more complicated, consult tax professionals and lawyers if you want to know more, this is just some background discussion.

Part 4 is the one we’re waiting for, the removal of the CLEO signature, an antiquated rule from 1934 and later era that is much better dealt with by modern background checking methods. The CLEO signature requirement comes from the days before computers. It bogs down the paperwork process, puts CLEO in the difficult position of trying to see what their liability is and many refuse to sign due to that or because they want to de facto stop legal, private ownership of NFA firearms- which is absolutely not the intent of the signature requirement. CLEO needs to go.

3/6/2013 Update from Jeff Folloder from NFATCA ( 

The site states: "OMB asks for input on dropping CLEO Signature on forms! This is at the "Proposed Rule" Stage."  While the detail in the article on this site is very good, the headline is misleading.  This omnibus set of considered changes is just at the beginning of the process and has not even made it to the official Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM).  If you look very carefully at the actual OMB notice via the URL link above, note that the action date is listed as 07/00/2013.  There is no such date!  This is the short code for an item that could just as easily move forward as disappear.  Further, there is no Federal Register citation because no official comment period has been opened.  Until we get an actual publication of the NPRM, this is still very tenuous.

We need to be very aware of the fact that there is a lot of speculation going on about what this does and does not mean. The NFATCA is *not* negotiating away trust and corporation issues in order to achieve the CLEO signature removal. The NFATCA *has* been working for nearly nine years to get the CLEO signature removed and this is further than we have ever gotten.  We've made progress, but there is still a long way to go.

There are rumors that ATF somehow wants to eliminate trusts and corps (have no idea how that conclusion was reached), or that ATF wants to run trusts and corps... I have spent a lot of time explaining that ATF has only teed up the issues that they would like to address; nothing has been defined or decided and cannot be until the Federal Register process is formally begun.


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