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NFATCA Report: NFA Statistics and Transfer Times
By John Brown

One of the many things that the NFATCA continues to monitor are the statistics and particulars on NFA transfers. Many of you remember the days of transfers that took, on the norm, 10-12 months. The last thing in the world you would do is call and check the status of your own transfer because you didn’t want to disturb the process. Those days made you feel helpless. Thank goodness those days are long gone.

When the NFA Branch moved to Martinsburg and Ken Houchens, as the new NFA Branch Chief, took this bull by the horns and things seemed to change overnight. Most of us went from being scared of our examiners to developing a good relationship with them. At that time the NFATCA actually went to Martinsburg and presented the examiners with a special plaque recognizing them for their excellence in getting a better handle on transfers for the entire community. At the height of the best times that we have seen, Form 3 transfers were taking a mere 5 days and Form 4s were handled in 22 days, once at the Branch. Did we get spoiled by all of this? You bet we did!

If you had the occasion to go to Knob Creek in October last year you would have seen the new NFA Branch Chief Ed Saavedra explain that Form 4s were holding at 4 months in 2009. In a later article I will detail an interview with Ted Clutter who has taken the lead as the NFA Branch Supervisor and is holding the line of this tidal wave that takes transfers 4 months as best possible with the resources that are available.

Prior to the Knob Creek meeting, resources at ATF and the NFATCA pondered on why the transfer times are running at the rate they are. We all knew that with a new President that the rush was on. NFA purchases went through the roof and purchases of the AR family of rifles were unprecedented. After the election panic and with the fall of the economy everything came to a screeching halt. Not only did the panic purchases come to a full stop but prices began to fall. The decline of disposable income and the fear of a complete collapse in the economy caused an interesting phenomenon in purchasing. Most of the NFA community decided not to spend their disposable income on high end items and instead spend their money on more affordable items, such as suppressors, short barreled rifles and similar more affordable items thereby holding on to as much cash as possible. At least that’s what appeared to be happening. To verify this, we decided to study the overall numbers and present those to our readers on what was actually happening with the types of NFA transfers during the last five years.

If you carefully look over the statistics in the following chart there are some amazing conclusions that can be drawn on how the presidential election and the economy have affected our community.

It is especially interesting to see that the more economical NFA items have increased dramatically. Also of note is how the pace in purchasing machine guns has drastically slowed as compared to any of the other five years. Additional surprises are also apparent in silencer purchases and short barreled rifles over previous years. Take into consideration that short barreled rifles and silencers are more affordable and still being made, it is no wonder that machine gun purchases have fallen off over the last year.

The last point of interest is how this work load has affected the ATF examiners in Martinsburg. Since 2006 their job has been, with the same number of resources, almost unmanageable. Taking a look at what happened for the total in 2009, it is no wonder that the NFA Branch has been forced to institute a multitude of new practices to keep pace with the increases in form processing. It is also important to understand that this chart only addresses Form 4s. This combined with the many other forms that are processed by the NFA Branch has put the NFATCA and ATF at the table together on many occasions to address how the NFTCA can better communicate issues to the community to assist the Branch. Working together has proven to help us both in better managing submission and processing.

On multiple occasions since the inception of the NFATCA we have had the privilege and the honor of working closely with the NFA Branch to better understand and assist the Branch whenever possible.

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