By Jeff Folloder
1.426 MILLION NFA items
As mentioned in a previous publication and online sources, ATF reports that it processed 308,563 NFA forms for 2015. That corresponds to an astonishing 1.426 MILLION NFA items. That number embraces the surge in popularity of suppressors and also short-barreled rifles (SBR’s). All of this was accomplished while ATF was staffing up the NFA Branch to address the work surge and efficiency certainly improved from month to month. So how do things look right now?
To be sure, there is a general sense that demand has increased and that wait times on forms processing has increased, as well. This general sense is actually quite accurate and there are several pieces of the puzzle driving the current state of affairs. Let’s take a look at a few of those pieces.
The Department of Justice announced, at the beginning of 2016, that it would implement the new rules for legal entity ownership of NFA items so that the playing field for purchasing items was level and that all potential NFA possessors be subject to positive identification and background checks. July 13, 2016 saw this implementation of the new rules, known as 41F. January 1st though July 13th saw a huge surge in applications for those who wanted to make application under the new rule set. While official numbers are not yet available, ATF estimates that over 365,000 applications were processed into the month of August, far surpassing last year’s total.
And now, the second surge is occurring. There were many NFA enthusiasts that could not obtain chief law enforcement officer (CLEO) approval and did not want to pay extra for a lawyer to create a trust or other legal entity to obviate the signature approval requirement. Those applicants have now added their work load volume to the mix. Again, no official numbers have been published, yet sources within ATF are projecting that NFA Branch will process an additional ONE MILLION NFA items to close 2016 at 2.4 million items.
The NFATCA does not expect to see demand taper off any time soon. Further, as more innovation is brought to the marketplace and more people realize the freedom of choice that they have to purchase NFA items without a CLEO signature approval, the volume should continue to increase. One million additional NFA items has increased the size of the community and the size of the market. The only thing that could accelerate the pace is a post-election purchase surge!
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N1 (January 2017)