NFATCA Report: June 2013
By John Brown

Gun Control Galore

Many of you have noticed in the past year that between the many promotions and movement of personnel at ATF that we sometimes seem to have lost that invaluable connection with those personnel at ATF whose relationship with our organization has been invaluable. Between a lot of phone calls and face-to-face meetings, a lot of things that we have been working diligently to get accomplished are taking on a new light with the spirit of cooperation we have not seen in quite some time. Like any large organization, ATF suffers from resource movement and the consequent re-establishment of relations to personnel that make the going easier. We would like to highlight some of the many issues that we have been working, in some cases, on a daily basis.

First and foremost is the CLEO signature. Although the wheels of justice turn ever so slowly, this mission is on track. The critical nature of this change has required everyone from the Department of Justice to the Office of Management and Budget to get involved in looking at every angle that is impacted by this change. Keep in mind the CLEO signature was first put into effect because in many cases the CLEO was the only person that could check on the persons purchasing an NFA weapon and vouch for your background. Originally, there were no instant background checks available. Historically, the wording on your Form 4 and the language was intended for the CLEO to actually vouch for you personally. The form four reads: “I certify that I am the chief law enforcement officer of the organization named below having jurisdiction in the area of residence _______name of trasferee________. I have no information indicating that the transferee will use the firearm or device described on this application for other than lawful purposes. I have no information that the receipt or possession of the firearm or device described in item 4 would be place the transferee in violation of State or local law.”

The CLEO was vouching for your good character, after running his or her own local background check. Regrettably, this statement became an Approve / Disapprove point of contention. In many instances the CLEO would not sign, as if disapproving your Form 4. Among other reasons, the CLEO did not want to take on the liability of you owning such an article.

The result was the use of corporate transfers or using an NFA or Living Trust to circumvent the entire CLEO debacle. As a result, several prohibited persons slipped through the cracks and acquired NFA articles by circumventing the CLEO. We all know and understand that this is not the intent of a Corporation or the objective behind a Trust. Nevertheless, these “prohibited persons” acquired their items, damaging the use of both legal instruments. At this point we know that if you give anyone the tiniest loophole someone will eventually use it to harm the majority. This in itself has led ATF to slow the elimination of CLEO signature process and to look closely at how this can be done and still maintain a good solid process that checks out the backgrounds on all Form 4s. We know that there will be changes to our original requests but at this point we do not know the details on how this will appear. We do know that the CLEO signature will disappear; we just don’t know the final result. It has been three years in the making but we are making progress through the ranks with many personnel at ATF who are diligently working with us to get that completed. Nothing good comes easy and this is a prime example. This program is a hot topic with our work at ATF today and continues to draw the attention of many of our friends within the Bureau.

Next up on the agenda is our work on both the NFA Handbook and the Firearms Technology Branch (FTB) Handbook. We have prepared major revisions to the NFA Handbook and at this writing are preparing those updates to work with a select team of ATF employees who will help us complete this program in 2013. Plans are currently underway to finalize these revisions by spring. We will keep you updated on all of our progress.

The next major undertaking was to define and produce a Firearms Technology Branch (FTB) handbook teaming with select personnel from the industry and ATF. The first draft of that handbook has been produced and has been on hold with a changing of the guard at ATF. With Earl Griffith as the new Branch Chief, Earl is working to review the draft and to determine the best path forward. The objective of this review is to get this critical information into the hands of the industry to streamline how anyone in the firearms industry can better understand the regulations and learn from the hundreds of pages of information. We are jointly determining how to keep on the right side of regulatory issues from large manufacturers to an individual who wants to make something themselves. We all know and understand that with the thousands of rulings and regulations involved in this process that this was a daunting task. Take into consideration that the draft is already in excess of 300 pages, this has been a challenge for both the industry and ATF. The new Branch Chief will examine what has been prepared thus far and what needs to happen to produce a useful document for both ATF and the industry. At the conclusion of that process we should be able to jointly tell you what is left and what needs to happen to conclude this process. That, too, we expect to finalize sometime in the spring of 2013.

In addition to the documentation programs underway, the NFATCA are working closely together to help ATF to get even closer to the industry. This will take place in 2013 on many fronts. We will first of all work to have the right people be present for all of the major events that will take place this year. We continue to have guests at Knob Creek and to extend the capability of ATF’s availability by offering tables at the major events. Staffed by examiners and other ATF management personnel from the local field offices, to executives from Martinsburg and Washington D.C., ATF will continue to be present and available for all of the questions and issues that face the industry. With the current political environment this will be especially helpful to help better understand regulatory issues and their interpretation. This could prove to be one of the most information packed years in the history of the NFA. We would like to take this opportunity to thank ATF in helping all of us get closer to all of those issues that we face on a daily basis.

Lastly, and certainly not least, the NFATCA will be hosting the NFATCA Expo in June of this year at the NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. This event is intended to offer an abundance of topics that will be of interest to any NFA enthusiast. Please check our website for more details and make your reservations early. The topics and guest speakers will be exciting, topped off by tours of the NRA museum and its fine NFA collection. Attendance to this event will be limited so don’t delay in making your reservations.

It is proving to be an exciting year with the kind of help you can only get from the NFATCA. If you are not among the 1,000 members with us today you are surely missing out. Come visit us today and join in, in supporting one of the fastest growing organizations looking after your rights. You can do that today by visiting www.nfatca.org.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V17N2 (June 2013)
and was posted online on April 26, 2013


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