After nearly two months of sitting on the proposed post-41F NFA forms, I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and draft a handful of comments on the new applications. As many readers probably know, ATF 41F is a recently finalized rule that will impose new and significant requirements on those seeking NFA firearms and suppressors. Shooters and collectors who previously applied for NFA items using trusts and other legal entities will be most affected by the upcoming changes which are set to take effect July 13.
To facilitate the new requirements, the ATF had to draft new NFA Forms 1, 4, and 5. The agency also had to create a new form, Form 5320.23, to be submitted by each responsible person within applicant trusts and other entities. As is required by law, the ATF must accept public comments on these new forms. The 60-day comment period ends this Sunday. Below, you can find my thoughts (and some I’ve heard from others). Please feel free to incorporate some of these in your own submissions. ATF contact/comment information is at the bottom of this post.
- Status of eForms remains in question: Over the last three years, ATF and its contractors have spent considerable time and taxpayer dollars attempting to build eForms into a usable form submission and tracking tool for applicants and licensed dealers alike. The new forms introduce no features that cannot be replicated in eForms. Allowing for the attachment of PDF scans of relevant photos and FD-258 cards would satisfy the new requirements. In light of these facts, the new forms should not preclude eForm’s continued use for Form 1 applications and reintroduction for Form 3 and 4 submissions. Failure to adapt eForms to accommodate the new applications would be a significant waste of taxpayer dollars. Paper forms also take longer to process and are more error prone than the electronic system. In light of the changes, ATF should communicate a status update and roadmap for the eForms project.
- Electronic fingerprints and scans: Considering the effort required to collect fingerprints from multiple responsible persons, it should be possible to submit electronic versions or copies of the FD-258 cards. At this time, most law enforcement agencies use electronic fingerprint systems. Will ATF allow applicants to submit FD-258 cards containing electronically scanned or otherwise copied fingerprints?
- New forms bring significant material waste: At minimum, an individual applicant must print, complete, and submit eleven separate sheets of paper per acquisition. For trusts and other legal entities, this total could rise as high as thirty or more sheets when entity declarations are attached. Even ignoring the possibility of eForms submissions, the new applications are positively wasteful. The new forms are not consistent with ATF’s stated paperwork reduction and sustainability goals. Moreover, the time required for each NFA examiner to adequately assess each submission will inevitably prove unworkable. ATF must streamline the application process and reduce the amount of paperwork required for each acquisition.
- Item 13 missing silencer: Proposed Form 4, item 13 (“Transferee Necessity Statement”) omits silencers from the named list of NFA firearms. This should be fixed in the final version.
- Missing items in CLEO information: The “Information for the Chief Law Enforcement Officer” section on proposed Forms 1, 4, and 5 references items that do not exist anywhere on the application. On the proposed Form 1, the passage refers to items 11i and 11j while Forms 4 and 5 refer to items 14i and 14j. In each case, these items cannot be found anywhere on the form.
- Directions unclear for individuals: On Forms 1, 4, and 5, paragraphs 2(d)(2) and 2(d)(3) under “Definitions/Instructions” direct individual applicants to complete the entire form. However, items 15 and 16 (Form 1) and items 18 and 19 (Forms 4 and 5) do not apply to individuals. As such, it is impossible for individual applicants to complete the forms in their entirety.
Proposed Form 5320.23 (Responsible Persons Questionnaire): https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/form/national-firearms-act-nfa-responsible-person-questionnaire-omb-number-1140%E2%80%93new/download
Where to Submit:
Written comments and suggestions from the public and affected agencies concerning the proposed collection of information are encouraged. Your comments should address one or more of the following four points:
1. Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;
2. Evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
3. Evaluate whether and if so how the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected can be enhanced; and
4. Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.
If you have additional comments especially on the estimated public burden or associated response time, suggestions, or need a copy of the proposed information collection instrument with instructions or additional information, please contact Gary Schaible, Industry Liaison Analyst, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), 99 New York Ave, NE, Washington, DC 20226 at email : firstname.lastname@example.org.