By John Brown
Over the last few weeks I have received about twenty separate phone calls from people finally calling me personally and asking good solid questions about the NFATCA. The few internet threads and gossip about us being an “elite organization of snobs” only dedicated to their own self serving interests is finally coming to the surface from individuals who have the guts to make that call, directly to me, the President. I am first of all thankful for the people who have what it takes to make the call and ask me why we were being called “elitists,” “good ole boys” and the like. I am happy to say that after about 20 minutes these same callers joined our common cause to represent the entire community. They quickly understood and gladly paid the $250, $500 or $1000 membership they felt they could afford to join the NFATCA. No, we don’t have a $19.95 membership with a free baseball cap. As many of our companion organizations have taught us, that type of membership level doesn’t help with congressional legislation. If you want to play ball with the Congress and any Federal Agency, then you have to have some big guns to make a difference. That is exactly what the NFATCA has done. We have gone after the big guns in states where congressional representation can wield the right kind of pressure to help our cause. Our cause is to preserve the rights of NFA owners nationwide, whatever the cost. That takes a lot of money, time, and a membership roster that boasts of powerful influence. That is how you start and are successful with a powerful lobbying effort. That is how the NFATCA started its lobbying efforts and is successful today on many fronts.
I have thought a lot about this article and I have done my best to keep my emotions calm in writing, but I will apologize ahead of time if they slip into the script. The same emotion that had me think up this idea and to go to some of the industry forefathers is right behind this article. I had the idea of the NFATCA three years ago. Start an organization with top-shelf attorneys, top shelf lobbyists, and a core of board members that would make people take notice. I went to Dan Shea, Bob Landies, John Tibbetts, Jack and Teresa Starnes. We started our quest by writing five thousand dollar checks, hiring our first attorney, and incorporating in the State of Nevada. We were off and running and knew from the start a lot of time, money and energy would be required to properly represent the entire NFA industry if we were to be at all successful. Please note, “to represent the entire industry.”
We chose early not to represent the interests of a few but the efforts of many and the entire NFA community. Board members met and we went straight for the jugular vein of some of the largest companies in the NFA community. We designed a membership entry program that would let not only non NFA interests to take part in our cause but every level within the community to be represented. Our counsel, our lobbyists and our goals quickly enticed many members to join at the highest level available, a life member at the cost of $25,000. Most of the other 100 plus members joined quickly at the $1,000 level and never blinked an eye. Like me, these people wanted their sons and daughters to have the protection granted only by an organization that plays on Capitol Hill with a voice that can be heard nationwide. That is exactly what we have accomplished
Our agenda has never been, nor will it ever be, to take on specific cases and to support individuals whom may have done something to get themselves sideways with BATFE, whether it’s their fault or not. That’s what attorneys are for, and there are several good ones that can and have helped individuals out of jams. On virtually every single case that involves NFA issues, the NFATCA Board of Directors receives a briefing by our counsel and lobbyist. We try and look at every case and make certain that if there is a policy issue at hand where we can make a difference, you can bet we are all over that issue.
Our goal is NFA community representation. We can not afford to spend our time and energy on the focus of a few when the needs of many are more important. The NFATCA recently took criticism on the NFA Handbook. One of our unidentified internet sleuths commented, “Oh yeah, another rule book for the Elite Boys Club.” I am dumbfounded by the shear lack of good sense when it comes to people not recognizing why and what the NFATCA is and has done for the good of the entire community. The NFA Handbook, authored by retired ATF employees and senior members of the NFATCA, will be the first ever published set of is sues surrounding every facet of NFA regulations. Everyone, ATF agents, compliance officers, Technology personnel and our entire community will all read from the same set of regulations. How shortsighted can you be, not to be excited about improving the understanding of NFA laws and regulations? Issuing a set of formally accepted and agreed upon regulations where we all agree and speak the same language is a phenomenal undertaking. I would hardly consider such a major accomplishment “sleeping with the enemy.” And so goes the problem with a very small percentage of our ranks. They still see ATF as the enemy. If that truly is what you believe then you have bigger issues than the NFATCA.
The NFATCA, having completed the NFA Handbook, is now negotiating a process to work directly with the Firearms Technology Branch to develop the same set of rules and procedures so that once again, we will all be reading from the same set of regulations with the same set of understandings.
Like everything else in our community, the Firearms Technology Branch Handbook will likewise come under the same type of criticism by the same people we have always seen to be more interested in stalling a successful process rather than contributing to its completion. Once again I will remind the community that we, the NFATCA, are interested in one thing, and that is what’s best for the entire community. We shall never follow the agenda of a short and shallow few who take great pride in hiding behind anonymity.
As always we will be involved at every level of activity with NFA issues at virtually every turn. I know I keep repeating myself but we aren’t doing this for some elitist club. We are doing it for your kids, mine, and every kid that has an interest in the future of NFA ownership. If you want to call that self-serving and elitist then I guess you are right. We, on the other hand, the NFATCA, see things a bit differently for our future. We have developed a strategy and an understanding that will serve the needs and protect the future of all firearms owners, nationwide. Come join us and see. Memberships start at $250. We want, need and invite your support.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V10N7 (April 2007)|