Letters to SAR: May 1999

By Dan Shea

I want to thank SAR for lending not only this space, but also for its significant impact on uniting this community of friends. It is essential at this time to indeed unite for a cause that has been set in front of us. As you have read earlier in these pages, our current project is to be a national-scale legal battle, attempting to remove the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) certification from the forms used to pay tax on NFA items. This is one of the many issues that NFA manufacturers, dealers, purchasers and enthusiasts should see as needing of reform. The BATF Forms 1, 4, or 5 are the entryway to joining the NFA community, and the CLEO certification is the part of these forms that lends itself to corruption, confusion and abuses of power that amount to de facto gun control.

The CLEO “signoff” portion of the Forms 1 and 4 is what stops most people from paying tax to take transfer of their NFA firearms. We as NFA enthusiasts are often confounded by local officials conspiring amongst themselves to not sign these forms. (Dade County, FL and Houston, TX for examples.) We are flummoxed when we see proof of ATF staff advising local officials not to sign off on their own requirement on their own forms.

Often dealers find it in their interest to search out friendly chiefs and sheriffs in order to provide signoffs for their clients. In some areas, if you don’t buy the item from a store that made a significant contribution to the sheriff’s re-election fund, you don’t get a signoff.

We waste our anger on locals who have no business viewing our private tax documents in the first place, yet are “required” to by an illegal BATF form. We waste time trying to issue writs of mandamus to local officials, attempting to get them to “do their job”, when it clearly isn’t their job.

Is it not obvious that this federal requirement lends itself to local corruption? Is it not obvious that a federal form should not require a local signoff? As the ATF looks at the Form 1, 4 and 5 as federal tax documents, is it also not obvious that you should not need to submit your private tax information to scrutiny and ambiguity of some local official’s prejudices and preferences? This requirement is a violation of the Appointments clause of the Constitution (what brought the Brady laws down), as well as an affront to the 14th Amendment (Which ensures due process and equal protection no matter where you live).

The good guys, generally meaning WE, can win a lawsuit challenging this requirement. We, the NFA community, have traditionally been ignored, forgotten, or worse - sold out by mainstream firearms lobbyist groups. So we’re doing things ourselves. The process has been set in motion by a non-profit, grassroots organization birthed from our own ranks. The 1934 Group is collecting donations now to fund this suit.

Attorneys Jim Jeffries and Steve Halbrook have agreed to co-counsel, provided that the 1934 Group holds up on its end of the deal: coming up with the financial ammunition to bring this to its final outcome. Not surprisingly, that’s where you come in. We need and expect your support. The NFA community, from manufacturer to dealer to end user to their future heirs stand to benefit greatly from such a change in the way business is done. I sincerely hope you realize this and help us to advance your freedoms.

Be the change that you want to see in the world. — M. K. Gandhi

My Thanks in Advance,

Kel Whelan
Chairman, 1934 Group

Private Donations in personal or company cheque, money order (Please make notation on ‘memo’ field of your cheque if you prefer to stay anonymous to the CL3 community) can be sent to:

1934 Group
12701 NE 9th PL Suite #D312
Bellevue, WA 98005

SAR is not involved in this fundraising effort, but we are cheerleaders for the project. We see no reason for this requirement staying in place in light of how much it has been abused. If you want to continue to exercise your Right to own firearms by purchasing NFA firearms, there should be no unwritten local impediment. We support the 1934 Group and their attorneys, James Jeffries and Stephen Halbrook. We hope you will as well. Let’s DO something about our problems, not just complain about them. -Dan


This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V2N8 (May 1999)
and was posted online on April 29, 2016


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