By John Brown
For the last couple of years the NFATCA has had the fortune of working extremely close with multiple branches within the BATFE with an extremely high degree of success in establishing new relationships, breaking down old barriers, and making new friends in places where we have been afforded the opportunity to make a difference for our community. We have initiated discussions with the highest level officials, including Director Sullivan. We have been very fortunate to have been invited into offices to have discussions on issues that would have never been entertained ten years ago. All of the work and the energy that we have expended during the last three years is about to change with the evolution of not only the politics in our country but with some major changes inside the agency.
In an effort to keep everyone informed about the changes, we wanted to summarize some of the details of whom and what is happening within the agency.
Let’s start with a long time friend who was absolutely instrumental in helping the NFATCA break down a lot of the communication barriers in the early stages of the development of the NFATCA, Mr. Ken Houchens. Ken has left the NFA Branch for a promotion to the DIO for the Northeastern Region of the United States. Ken is currently working out of the Boston regional office. Gary Kirchoff had taken Ken’s place for 120 days while the NFA Branch looked for a successor for Ken. We were hoping that Gary would stay in this position but Gary has announced that he will not seek this position permanently. Here lies the drop in our first line of allies at ATF.
Most recently we were not surprised to find out that Lou Raden, the Assistant Director was leaving ATF for retirement. Lou also plowed a lot of new ground with the NFATCA and we will miss him and his never ending humor. He was an asset to our community and his presence will be missed.
Last, but certainly not least, there is a strong rumor on the hill that we may lose Audrey Stucko to a promotional opportunity within the Bureau. If this strategy falls in place, we will be missing some of the most important people that we have grown to work so closely with during the last three years.
We are thankful that we have been fortunate to also develop a string of relationships with new leadership such as John Spencer, Branch Chief at Firearms Technology (FTB). John has been a great addition to our working community and is working diligently in helping the NFATCA develop the FTB Procedures Manual. We all know what a strong influence Assistant Branch Chief, Rick Vasquez has been in the NFATCA efforts.
As I said, “The times, they are a changing.” As we approach the upcoming elections it is imperative the NFATCA maintain a strong presence whenever possible in the Bureau.
That is exactly what we are doing. With a strong presence through counsel and setting up meetings in Martinsburg and Washington we continue to carry the banner of breaking down the barriers and promoting a more open forum between the industry and BATFE.
I am not afraid of losing ground but simply keeping a hold of what we have managed to accomplish with all of the contacts we have made during the last several years. I know today that the only way that we can continue to better manage the relationships that we have developed is to continue to build new relationships at Martinsburg, Washington, D.C., and virtually every field office, whenever possible.
The only way we can maintain the ground we have gained and continue to move forward is with a strong presence in our membership. Being on the eve of elections and keeping a stronghold on our presence with ATF is more important now than ever. The membership roster within the NFATCA continues to grow, but the pace is ever so slow.
As we move forward, cultivate new relationships within ATF, and position ourselves to publish version 2.0 of the NFA Handbook and version 1.0 of the Firearms Technology Branch Procedures Manual, we need every NFA owner nationwide to step up and support the effort through membership. Join us today and help strengthen the numbers. Visit www.nfatca.net.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V11N10 (July 2008)|