TFB EXCLUSIVE: ’41F Q&A’ With The BATFE NFA Branch

ATF_TFB

After months of anticipation, the new National Firearms Act (NFA) rules and procedures are finally here. And as much as we have covered 41F and its predecessor 41P here at TFB, there are people that still have questions about the process. Like me, for example. So we figured, why not go to the source – ask the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) for clarification on the new processes to make and transfer NFA items. As it turns out, they were happy to oblige.

Now, admittedly, there is no earth-shattering reveal in the answers below. However, it is a unique opportunity to get information directly from the source. And maybe leave the door open for future question and answer sessions.

Staying true to our mantra of “Firearms, Not Politics”, the questions posed were strictly administrative and procedural – we weren’t scheming for any ‘gotcha’ moments or attempting to get any government officials to comment on current policies.
stamp

TFB:

Mr. Howard, thank you for taking the time to talk to The Firearm Blog about the new NFA application procedures. First off, I have a few Form 4s working their way through the process, is there any chance I can get those approved today?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

I’m sorry, but applications are processed in the order that they are received.

TFB:

(It was worth a shot.)

TFB:

Are the new 5320 Forms finalized? If so, what is the revision date as marked on the form so applicants know which forms to use after July 13, 2016? If not, when can we expect to see the new forms? (This question was asked before the official release of the new forms last week.)

ATF NFA BRANCH:

The new Forms 5320.1, 5320.4, 5320.5 and 5320.23 have been finalized. The new forms should indicate a revision date of May 2016 in the bottom right corner of each page.

TFB:

How many copies of the application forms need to be submitted with each NFA application? How many copies of fingerprint cards? How many photographs? How many entity document copies? (This may seem basic, but there is a lot of conflicting information floating around).

ATF NFA BRANCH:

For all applications submitted, fingerprint cards and photographs must be in duplicate. One copy of the entity documents is required.

TFB:

For example, if an individual is submitting a single Form 4 to transfer one silencer from their FFL/SOT, how many copies of their 5320.4, fingerprints and photographs need to be submitted?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

For all applications submitted, fingerprint cards and photographs must be in duplicate. Therefore, two copies of fingerprints and photographs must be submitted.

TFB:

If that same individual is submitting multiple Form 4 applications for multiple silencer transfers, do additional sets of fingerprints and photographs need to be submitted as well?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

Yes, fingerprint cards and photographs are required for all submissions of ATF Forms 1, 4, or 5, including individual applications, trusts and legal entities. (See instruction 2 d. (5) on the Forms 1, 4, and 5, and the instructions on the ATF Form 5320.23.)

TFB:

In this example, if the applicant is an entity, how many copies of trust/corporation documents need to be submitted? One copy for each application?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

One copy of trust/corporation documents need to be submitted for each application.

TFB:

Do entity documents, fingerprint cards and photographs need to be submitted with each application, even if the applicant has submitted an approved application in the last two years? If not, is there a plan in place to simplify the application process where an applicant can submit the required documentation periodically

ATF NFA BRANCH:

The Form 5320.23, with attached photograph and fingerprint cards, are required in duplicate for each person identified as a responsible person, for each submission, in order to initiate the required background check. The 24-month exemption for providing supporting “documentation” refers only to the documents proving the existence of an entity, such as trusts or corporate paperwork. (On Form 5320.23, see instruction 2 d. (4) and (5) on the Forms 1, 4, and 5. Include date of approved application and serial number.)

entity

TFB:

As a follow up, does every trustee/responsible person need to submit photographs and fingerprint cards for every application? (i.e. 10 trustees for one Form 4 = 10 sets of prints and 10 sets of photographs with each application?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

Yes, each responsible person is required to complete ATF Form 5320.23 (National Firearms Act (NFA) Responsible Person Questionnaire), and submit photographs and fingerprints in duplicate each time the trust or legal entity files an application to make an NFA firearm, or is listed as the transferee on an application to transfer an NFA firearm.

TFB:

Can applicants roll their own fingerprint cards?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

Fingerprints may be taken by anyone who is properly equipped to take them (see instructions on ATF Form 1, Form 4, Form 5, and Form 5320.23).

fp1

TFB:

Are electronically taken/printed fingerprint cards (non-ink) acceptable? Is there a process to transmit fingerprints electronically?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

Yes, there is a method for taking fingerprints electronically called live scan fingerprinting where fingerprints are electronically scanned and then printed onto federal fingerprint cards (FD-258) using a printer that is approved by the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). At this time, fingerprints or photographs cannot submitted electronically. At this time, fingerprint cards and photographs cannot be submitted electronically. However, ATF will continue to work towards improving the eForms system and expanding its use.

TFB:

Do photographs need to be printed on photographic paper? Is there a plan in places to submit photographs electronically?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

Photographs do not have to be printed on photographic paper. Photos need to be attached to Forms 1, 4, and 5. At this time, photographs cannot be submitted electronically. However, ATF will continue to work towards improving the eForms system and expanding its use.

eforms_logo

TFB:

Let’s talk about eForms. Will electronic submissions of Form 1 be available after July 13th? If so, how do applicants submit their required fingerprints and photographs?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

No. The eForms system was not designed to allow the filing of forms where fingerprints and photographs are required. Please check with local law enforcement for live scan fingerprint capabilities.

TFB:

If eForms will still be available, do you have a return date for Form 4? How about Form 3? How is the progress coming along for the new eForm system?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

Forms 1, 4, and 5 are currently not accepted on eForms system, as additional documents (photographs/fingerprint cards) are required. Form 3 can be submitted via eForms. The ATF is continuing it work to improve the eForms system and expand its use.

TFB:

For CLEO notification, can applicants redact any personal identifiers from the submitted forms they send

ATF NFA BRANCH:

No, applicable forms will already have redacted information.

Redacted copy for CLEO notification (greyed out photo and serial number blocks).

Redacted copy for CLEO notification (greyed out photo and serial number blocks).

TFB:

Has any guidance been given to CLEOs about how long they need to keep the submitted forms, how to store the forms or handling of personal information? What can the applicant expect to happen to their forms and data once they submit their CLEO notification?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

The CLEO is not required to file any of the NFA forms that may be received pursuant to this final rule. The ATF does not mandate actions the CLEO must take with the forms.

TFB:

If an applicant is an entity that has multiple responsible parties, does each responsible party send a copy of the submitted form to their respective CLEO or does one copy go to the CLEO covering the jurisdiction of the individual filling out the form?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

All applicants, transferees, and responsible persons are required to forward a completed copy of their NFA application and/or completed copy of the Form 5320.23, respectively, to the chief law enforcement officer of the locality in which the applicant or responsible person is located. In the case of a trust, this locality is the primary location where the firearm will be maintained.

TFB:

Some dealers believe that a NICS check is required for NFA transfers, even though the form states that no NICS is required. Just to clarify, no NICS check is required for NFA transfers, correct?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

Prior to July 13, 2016, a NICS background check must be conducted if an NFA firearm has been approved for transfer to a trust or legal entity, such as a corporation, and no background check was conducted as part of the application process or of the individual who will receive the firearm.

After July 13, 2016, a NICS background check will not be required prior to the transfer of the NFA firearm if the individual picking up the firearm on behalf of the trust or legal entity has undergone a background check as part of the application process. Responsible persons will be listed on the ATF Form 1, 4, or 5, so the licensee will know who has undergone a background check as part of the NFA application process.

TFB:

With the influx of applications, it seems wait times are increasing. Is there a plan in place to reduce these wait times? In the short term? In the long term?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

ATF processes applications as quickly as resources allow. That will continue after the effective date of July 13, 2016.

TFB:

Last year the NFA branch reported that there were close to 1 million registered silencers. Has that number been surpassed? Can you give a new estimate for silencers on the registry?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

Yes, the number of registered silencers has surpassed 1 Million. There are currently more than 1.1 Million registered silencers in the National Firearm Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR).

TFB:

Is there any way that the NFA applicant can make the process easier? Faster?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

To make the process easier, all forms should be filled out correctly, and individuals should respond within 30 days of an error letter notice to avoid disapproval.

Additional ways to make the process easier:

  • All supporting documents must be submitted and filled out completely (to include complete fingerprint cards, full declaration of trust signed with any/all attachments, applicant photos).
  • Tax Stamp fee must be included with the correct amount.
  • Forms must be submitted in duplicate and submitted front and back on one sheet of paper (i.e. 1s and 4s for individual).
  • Trust/applicant name must match exactly with current premise address.
  • Calibers are accepted in one specific size, additional calibers can be submitted on separate memo, or N/A (for MG’s).

There are currently more than 1.1 Million registered silencers in the National Firearm Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR).


TFB:

What did I miss about the new 41F process? What do you want applicants to know about the new rules?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

The amended regulations make identification and background checks requirements the same for trusts and legal entities as they were for individuals, thus providing important public and security benefits.

The final rule added a new section to address the possession and transfer of firearms registered to a decedent. The new section clarifies that the executor, administrator, personal representative, or other person authorized under state law to dispose of property in an estate may possess a firearm registered to a decedent during the term of probate, without such possession being treated as a “transfer” under the NFA. It also specifies that the transfer of the firearm to any beneficiary of the estate may be made on a tax-exempt basis.

A change from CLEO certification to CLEO notification required a revision to Form 1 (Application to Make and Register a Firearm), Form 4 (Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of a Firearm) and Form 5 (Application for Tax Exempt Transfer and Registration of a Firearm). There is also a new form, Form 5320.23 (National Firearms Act (NFA) Responsible Person Questionnaire), that must be completed by responsible persons of a trust or legal entity.

On or after July 13, 2016, all previous versions of ATF Forms 1, 4, and 5 will be obsolete and will be returned without action.

Applications post marked prior to the effective date of July 13, 2016 will be processed according to the current regulations. All applications post marked on or after the effective date of July 13, 2016 will be processed according to the new regulations set forth by 41F.

TFB:

Are you sure you can’t sign off on my Form 4s today?

ATF NFA BRANCH:

Sorry, no.

TFB:

(Oh well.)

Thanks for your time.

Rob Howard is an NFA Specialist with the ATF.

 

Note: If you decide to comment, please be courteous and respectful.



Pete

LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Pete.M@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • Ike

    Thanks for the info! Does “responsible person” include trust beneficiaries, or just current trustees?

    • Jeff S

      Read the Form 5320.23’s Definitions on Page 5… Beneficiaries *are not* responsible persons.

      • Ike

        Thanks!

  • janklow

    “The amended regulations make identification and background checks requirements the same for trusts and legal entities as they were for individuals, thus providing important public and security benefits.”

    i know they have to say this, but ugh, come on

    • Jeff S

      Yeah, I’d love to see the stats on crimes committed with NFA registered weapons or silencers. /rolleyes

      • Dbom

        You obviously don’t go to the movies- it happens all the time duh!

        Didn’t you see any of the Die Hards???

  • Anon

    We’re his responses to the joke actually that humorless, or did you paraphrase for some reason?

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      No, they are really good people. One of whom is a regular TFB reader.

      It’s hard to capture emotion and tone in text. Besides, my joke was meant to fall flat. 🙂

      • anon

        Yeah i get it. It’s just too hard not to read it in a anti fun bureaucrat kind of way when all you have to go on is text/

      • Bobb

        I agree, all the actual ATF people I have ever talked to/worked with have been good people, and a number of them shooters. The ones who wern’t shooters still generally tried to make sure everything was within the spirit of the law and worked with people to get things correct.

        Now, obviously not all of them are that way, nor do I think their leadership is anything like that. Nor do I think the rules they uphold are worthwhile or useful. But I do believe the bulk of the ATF that people will actually interact with are good people and will generally do a good job.

        • Pete – TFB Writer

          Exactly. Thanks Bobb.

  • J.K.

    I hate that I have to propose something like this, but so long as BATFE will be around to implement more bureaucracy, could we simplify the process and also speed up the review times with something like the TSA PreCheck / GlobalPass?

    • YS

      Since some state’s CPL qualify for NICS exception, I think it would be possible to use it in lieu of the fingerprint card and background check to speed up the process. But then, I guess the ATF won’t need so many inspectors, and they’ll need to lay off some of the people…

      • Cymond

        “Work expand to fit the time available.”

        Besides, they have *plenty* of work to do, and last I heard, there are like 25 examiners.

  • Kirk Newsted

    I’m still not seeing a clear explanation of who responsible persons on a trust are. My trust is me, only me, with my sister as the person who gets everything when I die. She has no position within the trust to do anything until I bite the big one. Is she a responsible person?

    • Bobb

      Call the lawyer who set up your trust

      • datimes

        Damn. Mines in Jail.

    • Texas-Roll-Over

      Yes. If you die, how does the ATF know that you’re sister is not a felon or barred from owning said objects?

      Answer: They don’t. Therefor you must submit all of her information as a responsible person so that they can check to be sure with every transfer.

      The easiest way to understand this. If there is anyone listed on your trust, you will have to submit documents for them.

      • Jim JOnes

        THIS IS COMPLETELY WRONG. Again, unless beneficiaries have some form of control over the provisions of the trust, they ARE NOT CONSIDERED RESPONSIBLE PERSONS. You can send in the prints and photos of your beneficiaries if you want Texas-Roll-Over, but that is NOT required by the new rule.

    • Jeff S

      Beneficiaries are not “responsible persons,” it’s outlined on Form 5320.23 in the Definitions on Page 5.

  • Harry’s Holsters

    The whole responsible persons also has me confused and what is the protocol if I have a living trust and want to a responsible in the future? Do they have to pass an ATF run background check to become a responsible person?

    If I wanted to make a trust for my extended in state family and buy all the items in a short period could I be the only responsible person and then add them as responsible persons later to avoid the hassle. As long as I was the only one providing funds for the purchase?

    • Ethan

      Read the Form 5320.23’s Definitions on Page 5… Beneficiaries *are not* responsible persons. -Jeff

      • Harry’s Holsters

        But what is a responsible person?

  • Gary Kirk

    So, pretty much, as just an individual.. Not much changed except cleo approval is now just notification.. And to leave it to someone, they need to do all the goose chase as well

    • PK

      For individual filings, it’s now one less step. No CLEO approval/signoff needed, just sending a notification like when an FFL application or renewal is sent in.

  • KestrelBike

    “The amended regulations make identification and background checks requirements the same for trusts and legal entities as they were for individuals, thus providing important public and security benefits.”

    – I just can’t read that without a smirk. Where/who are the criminals who nefariously got someone to let them borrow or possess an NFA item when it would still be illegal? From the trustors who themselves went through the trouble of a trust just so they could jeopardize their own freedom and the items they paid $200 each for? What’d be the difference between those people, and any other garden variety prohibited person who borrows a non NFA firearm from someone, aka your typical straw-purchase scenario?

    This increased bureaucracy is going to have ZERO benefit or effect in reducing crime, because nobody was taking advantage of a trust to side-step background checks in the first place. Nobody in their right mind would do the NFA dance then jeopardize all of their rights just to help out a prohibited person. So please, don’t spit in our faces when you say “thus providing important public and security benefits.”

    The fact that they’re now involving often-overhanded CLEO’s in every single transaction is also a slap in the face, even if it is just notification. If I’m not a criminal and I’m not doing a criminal thing, then the CLEO doesn’t need to know about my lawful activities. You’ve only increased the burden on everyone’s part, and for no good reason. You’ve added additional expense and time for no benefit. That said, I’m happy for those who previously refused to get a trust (for whatever reason, if an $120 NFA Easy-Trust from SilencerCo was too much or something) who can now Form4 and their CLEO cannot simply deny for no good reason.

    So for the good folks at ATF’s NFA department: I know you’re just doing your job and I’m sure you’re great people individually, but know that every day you head into the office, you’re part of a draconian system and doing work contrary to American values and the Constitution.

    • POsP-Eye

      “…join the digital millennium…”
      Or maybe let’s see them get the two antediluvian record-keeping systems, many still on early 1980’s “computers” and giant floppy disks, at the V.A. to simply be able to *talk* to each other (much less scan and read the warehouses of ceiling-high, rotting, water-damaged paperwork) before bemoaning, ‘Where’s my jet-pack, Science?!’ — How many decades and millions of dollars have they been “doing everything [they] can” on that one with exactly Zee-Row to show for it? I don’t even want an update! (I hate crying like a baby.) — It could take a class of high-school computer-science kids one workshop to come up with the code, *and* a systematic plan for implementation – for free. …could… And even if the citizenry took it upon them selves to solve any of these mind-boggleingly simple problems (probably the only logical glimmer of hope for actual solutions) I’m certain we could expect conspiracy-theory-inspiring refusals due to bureaucracy, funding the hardware, or just bruised egos. They’d ignore the gift for a few decades, until it’s near useless, then show off their new invention like heroes. Plate tectonics progresses faster than bureaucracy tech.
      But I of course am pointing my grubby little finger at far higher levels of government than department paper-pushers. For decades The Right has had a strategy of defunding the BATF in an attempt to make it impotent. Making NO judgements on the efficacy of that strategy, when you’ve got a handful of agents with no budget, swamped with backed-up work, you get to test how sharp the double-edge of that sword is.
      I totally feel the same frustration as everyone – the situation is obviously ridiculous – but I’m still more optimistic for progress than I’ve been in times past. (Rubbing my mojo bag for The Hearing Protection Act!)
      I’m just glad that, skimming the new docs., I have yet to come across the section on how to properly package your required clay-tablet copy before mailing.
      SMH

    • JumpIf NotZero

      So… Funny you should bring that up. Now that 41F has passed, I’ll talk about this.

      Without getting into too much detail, I heard about some pretty abusive NFA trust practices. APPARENTLY… There were at least two “gun clubs” who were buying NFA items, and for a fee, adding you to their trust. You could then sign up to take home the silencers and some stayed with the club and whatever.

      Well, these clubs had upwards of 100 people, and I had heard at least one of them had a felon in the membership.

      Now, this is all here say, but considering the source, I do believe it. There were people abusing the system – it’s garbage to say this was a large scale problem that needed an EO to fix, but whatever.

      • KestrelBike

        If true, that sucks, but taken literally, that’s ~200 people that weren’t really breaking any laws, if perhaps the spirit of it. As for that felon, I bet there are gun ranges across the country that don’t perform a BGC on their members, and thus have plenty of felons accessing their weapons.

        To look at the story of the clubs skeptically, what kept those people in the special “clubs” from taking items (silencers) home and then just keeping them and trying to claim equal ownership? (besides good ‘ole street justice/retribution from bubba at the club). Regardless, the naughty behavior of those purported clubs would be such a small blip on the overall radar that it’d never pass muster as a good excuse for the increase in bureaucracy that has occurred.

        • Alex Chosid

          It’s probably listed in the club bylaws that if you retain club property for over a specific amount of time that you’re liable to the club for the full value of the item. Would actually be really easy to roll into the agreement.

      • HSR47

        Until I see actual proof of something like this happening, I will continue to believe that these stories are just urban legends.

        Remember: Per Haynes v. United States, felons are exempt from the registration requirement of the NFA — As prohibited persons, forcing them to admit to possessing (or wanting to possess) items the law bars them from possessing is a violation of their fifth amendment right to not engage in self-incrimination.

        As such, I find it hard to believe that prohibited persons were actually taking advantage of the regulatory structure to get Title II firearms when they already have an exemption to the requirements to register and pay making/transfer taxes.

    • Dbom

      Agreed.

      And I was having a pretty decent day and now I’m mad…

  • Jeff S

    What a freaking mess. Prints and pictures for every application? Where the heck are they going to keep all the paperwork?

    • PK

      That’s always been the case, for individuals nothing is changing as far as the amount of paperwork submitted.

      • Jeff S

        How much will it increase now?

      • Louis C

        Actually it was only one set of prints per envelope sent in. You could send in multiple sets of forms one and four in the envelope.

        • HSR47

          Yeah, I have a feeling that will continue: If they’re processing a bunch of applications by the same prospective registrant 100% in parallel, there’s no reason that anything other than the F4 (and F23 where applicable) need to be submitted in duplicate for each application.

  • supergun

    Unbelievable bureaucracy for something that is not dangerous, but could help many people in America save their hearing. Talk about trampling on the 2nd Amendment.

  • Cymond

    “The 24-month exemption for providing supporting “documentation” refers only to the documents proving the existence of an entity, such as trusts or corporate paperwork.”

    Will that was really unclear in the original rule, perhaps even vague.

  • RetroG

    So, despite the fact that all passport photos are taken digitally, you can’t submit them that way. Despite the FBI converting all their fingerprints to digital files, you can’t submit them that way. And they’ve increased the amount of paperwork and hassle involved. Still no putting multiple items on one application. In exchange, we have to notify CLEOs of all purchases. Great, just great.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Look… If they’re saying the want me to use the cheapest bulk copy paper to print 100dpi limited color gifs of the photos….

      Ok, fine with me.

  • This entire situation is equine excrement. Having paid this government $200 for the privilege of violating my constitutional rights in multiple instances was bad enough. But I won’t be getting any further use for that $200 trust document as I’m not going around to my family and beg them to submit fingerprints to use it again. And I’m not doing it individually just to have novelty items in my safe that can’t be easily transferred without federal ramifications. And I just can’t wait until President Clitton puts every owner of a title II weapon on a watch list.

  • nova3930

    Working hard to improve eforms? So that’s why it’s sucked continuously and consistently since its inception. That must also be why it’s as functional and user friendly as something from 15 years ago after spending how many billions on development…

  • Brian L.

    Let me see if I understand this correctly. I would need to include 6 fingerprint cards and 6 photographs if I were to submit three form 1’s all together in the same envelope?

    • HSR47

      That’s what this mouthpiece appeared to be saying during this interview.

      That being said, photographs will ALWAYS need to be on every applicable form (three photos per application as an individual, one photo per RP per application for a trust or other legal entity).

      With fingerprint cards, if you’re submitting a bunch of applications together, you MIGHT be able to get away with just sending one set/one set per RP instead of three/three per RP.

  • William Elliott

    I just love being treated like a registering sex offender for engaging in a LEGAL activity [IE, registering that you are buying an NFA item with your local law enforcement…they can’t deny you, but now you are on their records]
    Aaaand where is the NRA fighting this? *Crickets*

  • Sid

    I wonder what happens if the other people on the trust is a minor or denied.. Do you have to modify the trust?