We often talk about the past year and a half inside the world of the National Firearms Act (NFA) as being difficult for manufacturers, distributors and dealers. Not that we need reminding, but proposed legislation as well as the new application processes imposed in mid 2016 have created a bit of turmoil, mostly for the silencer community. But consumers have also been hurt by extraordinarily long wait times, causing many to remain on the sidelines until the backlog clears.
Hopefully the days of year-long approvals are coming to a close. As a follow up to our story on the Silencer Shop Form 1 service in which we outlined the new “EFile” system, I am happy to report that my short barreled rifle (maker) application submitted in mid June was approved in late October. A four month turnaround is certainly an improvement from the abysmal wait times of recent past.
Form 4 (transfer) applications are also showing a decrease in wait times with some individual approvals also returning in about four months. The below form was submitted in early July and was approved in early November (I blurred the submission date by mistake).
That’s not to say that everyone is feeling the positive vibes. Trust applications are still lagging behind individual applications by a wide margin. Talks with industry leaders with knowledge of the internal workings at the ATF’s NFA Division have stated that the agency was not prepared to process many of the trust applications under the new 41F rules. Purportedly, the technical hurdles have been solved and work has begun on clearing the backlog, some of which stretches back more than a year. Although, because of the additional manpower required to determine the validity of trust documentation, these applications may always lag behind individual applications.
Other sources indicate that the new barcode system implemented a few months ago have streamlined processing and individual approvals of those forms could arrive as early next week. Because of the backlog of trust applications, barcoded forms for these submissions will still trail individual submissions for some time to come.
I wish I was able to report NFA wait times in terms of weeks and not months, but after the events of the past two years and the hopes of deregulation legislation being basically dead, at this point I guess we will take what we can get. Suppressors should be deregulated and the NFA repealed, but currently we are all restricted to the confines of an antiquated system. Albeit an improving antiquated system.