By John Brown
Changes in Leadership
During the last several months we have noticed many changes occurring within the leadership of ATF. The first announcement was the news that Arthur Herbert, Deputy Director, would be retiring at the end of 2014. That news had been heard before and we had our trepidations about that being true. However, it is official that Mr. Herbert is retiring and will be leaving after a long career in the Bureau. Candidly, our work with Mr. Herbert had not been met with the kind of cooperation that we had hoped. However, with patience, things eventually change. We just hope that the change is not worse than what we had.
As mentioned in an earlier article, many of us in the industry have noted some positive small changes in cooperation while working silently behind closed doors with those ATF personnel still friendly to the industry and who have been steadfast in their work with us. Now, in recent meetings both official and unofficial, it is a far cry from the days in this administration when ATF personnel were blatantly told not to even accept a bottle of water from industry members. Many of the cooperating personnel within ATF simply shrank back in the shadows and waited for things to change. Patience has its virtues and things are starting to pay off.
Early in the summer Marvin Richardson, soon to be Deputy Director, held a manufacturers meeting in Washington D.C. It was the first time in a very long time that all of the ATF staff and major industry members came together and genuinely smiled at one another. Credit goes to Mr. Richardson for pulling everyone together and discussing a multitude of regulatory issues that affect us all and all participants walked away from that meeting hoping for better times in cooperation.
Though we knew what was coming, we enjoyed much cooperation from ATF during this administration’s first term. It was of course in the second term that the storm started to brew and rain down a ton of anti-firearms legislation, targeted at manufacturers as well as the consumer. We have seen plenty of this during the first year and a half of the second term. Under White House direction it is no secret that the Justice Department has taken apart every idea from the industry and turned it against the consumer and the manufacturer. A simple idea of streamlining the Form 4 processes, by eliminating the Chief Law Enforcement signature, has turned into an absolute nightmare. The fear is that the more time that falls behind this type of legislation the less likely its impact.
Although the Justice Department has seen fit to forge its way into virtually every type of gun legislation, mid-term elections and dissatisfaction with the current administration are once again allowing a strong spirit of cooperation between ATF and the industry and consumers. A single example of this resides in the doubling of the staff tasked with processing forms for all types of NFA articles. Now at 9-10 months, with a target of six months, the Bureau in responding cooperatively with all of the trade associations and the consumers by adding appropriate staff to handle the load that is unprecedented in the history of the NFA. With a backlog of nearly 45,000 forms monthly at the NFA Branch, increasing staff is a natural and cooperative move to assist the consumer and the industry.
Changes in leadership at ATF will help at the Federal level and will once again give us the spirit of cooperation that we had enjoyed for so many years. With Marvin Richardson moving up, the dominoes start to fall and openings for more leadership positions will occur. Keeping a good relationship with ATF has always been a dictum of the NFATCA, and these changes will fuel our hopes of continued cooperation. That posture alone has been the reason why the NFATCA has enjoyed more cooperation from ATF than any other trade association in the firearms industry. We have stood steadfast for nearly twelve years and have withstood pain and agony of many types of proposed legislations. We have worked hard to support the industry and the consumer and have published the NFA Handbook and are nearly complete with the publication of the Firearms Technology Handbook. We will continue to keep our membership apprised of the latest news on all fronts.
The changes that we are seeing within ATF leadership are very positive. We have a lot of ground to recover and many things to yet accomplish. With a strong leadership within ATF and strong leadership within the NFATCA, we can and will accomplish our goals for the future.
Come join the NFATCA today and become a member of a powerful team that works for you, the industry, the consumer, and the sportsman, in defending not only our Second Amendment rights but for your NFA rights nationwide.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V19N1 (January 2015)|