By John Brown
ATF Offers an Olive Branch to the NFATCA
The last year and a half has been a roller coaster ride for ATF on many fronts. From Fast and Furious to a host of new players and a stance with the industry: the likes of which we have never seen before. To say that they have maintained an arm’s length from us would be an understatement. We wrote about this stance and wondered why after so many years of such close work, why the Bureau took such an unfriendly stance with the entire industry. As you know, the NFATCA, F.A.I.R., and the NSSF have worked together over the last seven years to break down the barriers that had existed for so long. Not only have industry representatives worked closer than ever before with ATF members but ATF members have worked on the inside of the industry at every facet, in order to better understand our operations. This effort has yielded not only some rather serious results, like the NFA Handbook, a draft of the Firearms Technology Handbook, and numerous regulations, but has also served to save many issues that could have had catastrophic results, if not handled as a joint effort between ATF and the industry.
As with any organization, the make up often changes and personnel that you worked hard to develop a great relationship move on. People get promoted, people retire, and in many cases the organization shifts, to continue to make progress. What is important in this make up is not only a rock solid board of directors at the NFATCA level but a rock solid management team at ATF that can work closely with industry members to make change in a positive direction - change that is reflective in better public safety and change that encourages growth in the industry, which changes how the regulatory process works. Tremendous efforts in this arena have occurred during the last few years which have made both employees at ATF and members of the industry take notice that this process can in fact work, especially if we move together. The problem occurs either when someone in the industry or someone inside ATF takes on a position that this effort is not as beneficial as one would believe. During the last two years new appointments have occurred that have made some members of ATF sit back and take the position that their role is to regulate, and that getting closer to the industry that they must regulated is not always the best solution to any problem. This happens in most cases when appointments are made to positions where a new member of the management team is not gun friendly and operates from the position that more regulations are necessary from a greater distance. The end result in many cases is catastrophic. Even the best relationships will break down under this kind of regulatory strain.
We know that working together within the congressional boundaries that are allowed is the only way that we will make the progress we both need to make the industry a safer place. That has been the NFATCA goal for nearly seven years and we will continue to push in that direction. For about two years now the NFATCA and our sister organizations have been working to find more appropriate ways to regulate the firearms business with the laws and our Constitution, and continue to build our relationship with the government. We spent the first five years of our existence tearing down the wall that kept us from working closer to ATF and we are not about to give up any ground unless we are forced to. Time and patience often yield some phenomenal results, and so was the case in October this year.
From a deafening silence, the NFA-TCA received a call in October by two members of the executive ATF staff. That invitation focused on a dinner that would serve the purpose of getting ATF and the industry back to the table to discuss refueling the engine of success through top level briefs and discussions. It was a welcome call and the ensuing discussion has yielded results that have been missing for two years. In our first meeting and the follow-on sessions we have addressed many of the issues which are concerns for the industry in making forward progress. Items that we discussed included status of the impending drop of the CLEO signature, defining small arms and small arms ammunition, among a few. The beginning result of these sessions is to establish a dialogue that continuously focuses on the needs of both sides. The industry works closely with the various branches to establish requirements for new issues and the Bureau is working closely with the industry to address any needs for new policy or procedures that may affect industry operations. This dialogue has yielded several great successes and there are many more in the works. Specific challenges with the NFA and FTB branches are discussed and potential solutions discussed that both parties are working to come to a workable solution. These issues are all of the things that the NFATCA came to the table seven years ago to work closer with the industry in resolving.
At this writing, ATF and the industry are working diligently, almost on a daily basis, to resolve a number of issues. Having a more powerful presence with more factual material at NFATCA events is just one example of ATF is coming to the table. Soon to come will be Webinars specifically designed for the NFA community, staged by ATF. These and many more events will be forthcoming in the future. All, to bring us back together to work as a team, making life in the firearms industry easier for everyone. Many of these results will be seen at Small Arms Review of the West, the SHOT show, and Knob Creek, and the NRA show in 2012. Together the NFATCA and ATF are truly working the issues as a team.
Come share in the fun and the activities necessary to support the industry’s relationship with ATF. Come join the NFATCA today and help make a difference. The opportunities are there for the taking. Visit us at www.nfatca.org.
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