By John Brown
Three and a half years ago we announced the formation of the National Firearms Trade and Collectors Association. Our objective was to provide a unified voice with ATF and Congress for the entire NFA community and firearms owners nationwide. In the early stages of our formation many people accused us of “sleeping with the enemy” and turning traitor to the firearms industry. Nothing can be further from the truth. Yet there are still people standing in our ranks posting on many of the websites that still accuse us of being turncoats and, it is safe to say, that these same people have never attended an event where any number of high ranking ATF officials are present alongside the NFATCA. These meetings represent a new sort of teamwork between government and industry that is not only welcome but truly a breath of fresh air for all us. Looking back to where we started and where we are today, the firearms community, and particularly the NFA community, has benefited greatly by our involvement.
The NFATCA has been invited to sit on many panels and has attended multiple meetings simply to represent industry needs and concerns. In 2007, we were invited to nearly twenty meetings with ATF to “get our take” and participate with them on a multitude of issues. It is hard to imagine other government agencies inviting civilians to express their needs. As Lew Raden, BATFE Assistant Deputy Director, once told the NFA Branch, “This kind of relationship is an industry first.” Those people who still call us asking, “What is the NFATCA doing for me?” seem to have a difficulty in grasping the importance of our effect on the bigger picture and the proper question is, “What is the NFATCA doing for us?” The answer to that is evident in the many successes we have achieved in our short history.
There are many among us today that once long ago finally got up the nerve to get their firearms license that didn’t spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about the countless stories we’ve heard where ATF would kick down your door in the middle of night for whatever reason. We can’t relax and drop our guard but that fear should substantially subside with all of the work we are doing together. Fear is either based on experience or, more often, the unknown. With the deployment of the NFA Handbook and now the development of the FTB procedures manual, both the NFATCA and ATF have one goal in mind; to get everyone reading off the same page and have industry and government working together as a team, not as adversaries. Many of you have taken the opportunity to get to know NFA and FTB personnel and found that good communication works. However, we must remain vigilant as ATF is an enforcement agency and their job is to enforce the law.
This is all about working together to make certain that when ATF has to enforce the law, it is based on someone breaking that law and knowing full well that’s exactly what they were doing. To avoid that is to make certain everyone in the industry knows and understands the law. We published the NFA handbook and will publish the FTB procedures manual for everyone in the industry. The information is there for everyone and there is no excuse for anyone in this industry to be ignorant of the laws that affect them so directly.
The NFATCA still has as its primary objective to strengthening communication between ATF and the NFA community and break down as many fear barriers that wecan whenever the opportunity presents itself. There is still a lot of work to do to get this wall torn down but we knew when we started this process that it wouldn’t happen overnight and it would not be easy. The joint relationship that we have developed with ATF is growing by the day based on trust and good, open communications. In being honest with each other there is truly a lot of experience and ideas that we can share together. The problem for both of us is opening that door and beginning to trust one another with all of the information that we both have in our experience locker. That is in fact what is happening. The NFATCA and the ATF are working together to make a better business for both of us. Our logo clearly says it all: “Power through Experience.” That experience, government and industry, will make all of our lives easier and functioning in the NFA community a much more robust and satisfying venture for all concerned.
Come join us today at www.NFATCA.org.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V11N6 (March 2008)|