Are major changes to the NFA coming ? For many of us who have waded through the piles of ATF forms in order to obtain restricted items like short barrel rifles, silencers and machine guns we sure hope so. In 2017 there really is no reason that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives to be operating on a largely paper system just like they did with the passage of the National Firearms Act of 1936. Ancient thinking and unwillingness to expand and adapt to new technology has made the agency largely ineffective and has slowed down it’s ability to process any sort of volume of paperwork.

The crack in the bureaucratic armor of the BATFE might be showing with the latest “leaked” opinion letter from Associate Deputy Director, Ronald Turk. The memo known as the “White Paper”  hit the internet with hurricane force and within minutes was posted on nearly every internet gun related chat room and forum. Problems and rumors occurred almost the second that the letter was “leaked”. I use quotes around the word leaked because I don’t feel it was leaked at all, the letter was released without an official statement so as to gauge the amount of rage it would generate with the anti gun community. If the anti gunners went into a rage the BATFE could say it was an unofficial opinion, if no rage happened then they wouldn’t have to do a thing. The problem with this so called “White Letter” is that not a lot of people have read it. So we decided to post the main bulletins of the letter, free of red tape or legalized CFR induced nausea. Most gun owners I know are focusing on points 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8. I personally don’t see the anti gunners in the United States Congress allowing major changes to the NFA such as removing suppressors or short barreled rifles from the registry.

What exactly does it say ?

Points for Discussion:

1. New Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL) Dealing Exclusively at Gun Shows (or internet):

For over two years representatives within the firearms licensing community have asked for clarification and/or a decision from ATF regarding new FFL applicants requesting to conduct business solely at gun shows. ATF has delayed a decision or guidance due to several concerns including what it means to be “engaged in the business” of selling firearms, and ATF’s ability to have access to a dealer’s records where they may not have routine business hours. ATF has already recognized FFL activities via the internet without a classic “storefront” and is considering whether to include gun show only activities in a similar manner. The marketplace has changed significantly in recent years, and ATF’s guidance to FFLs on these issues has not kept pace with developments in commerce. Classic “brick and mortar” storefronts with an on-hand inventory and set “front-door” business hours often no longer apply in today’s modern marketplace. A question remains as to whether ATF should consider simply changing past policy or initiate a lengthy regulation rule change process. There is ample room for immediate action on this issue. ATF can simply issue new guidance immediately and adjust past policy to allow for a business to obtain a license with the primary intention of selling firearms with the transfer occurring at a location other than the business’s physical premises (whether at guns shows, over the internet, or elsewhere). This practice has in fact already been taking place, and ATF has provided guidance to FFLs allowing such activity with regards to internet only sales. Provided the business is established at a location in full compliance with state and local laws/ordinances and the business is reasonably inspectable by ATF at an established business location, limited or no actual sales out the business’s front door should not be an issue.

If a formal regulation rule change is needed for long-term clarification, ATF can start that process while immediately issuing a policy change to the above practice which would have no negative impact to public safety. In fact, it would encourage more sales and business through a licensee, including background checks on sales at gun show events, and likely increase public safety. Several national gun show promoters prefer to have licensees at their shows, which also somewhat reduces the so-called “gun show loophole” concerns some have expressed about such venues.

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