ATF Receives Nearly 9,500 Comments on Proposed NFA Trust Rule Change 41P

Responses include 100+ pages from David M Goldman, 17 from NRA-ILA

BATFE LogoThe Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) received 9,479 comments filed regarding docket ATF-2013-0001:  Machine Guns, Destructive Devices and Certain Other Firearms: Background Checks for Responsible Persons of a Corporation, Trust or Other Legal Entity with Respect to Making or Transferring a Firearm.

The proposed rule change is summarized on its regulations.gov site as:  “The Department of Justice is planning to finalize a proposed rule to amend the regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) regarding the making or transferring of a firearm under the National Firearms Act. As proposed, the rule would (1) add a definition for the term “responsible person”; (2) require each responsible person of a corporation, trust or legal entity to complete a specified form, and to submit photographs and fingerprints; and (3) modify the requirements regarding the certificate of the chief law enforcement officer (CLEO).

In layman’s terms, what 41P does is require anyone obtaining an NFA firearm as a legal entity (e.g. an NFA Trust, LLC, or Corporation) to submit fingerprints, photographs, and proof of US citizenship along with their local Chief Law Enforcement Officer’s (CLEO) approval for each purchase or transfer.  In many jurisdictions, this results in de facto ban on NFA firearms where the CLEO refuses to approve NFA transfers either because they are ignorant of NFA items or are outright anti-gun.

Among the comments received is a 17 page document filed by Chris Cox on behalf of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA).  In his comments, Cox references a number of other comments, including those filed by NFA Gun Trust Lawyer Blog’s David M. Goldman in his 55 page submission accompanied by another 88 pages of supporting exhibits.  Cox goes on to point out their three main objections to the change:

First, its requirements are not authorized by the NFA and are therefore illegal for the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to impose. Second, the requirements could effectively block even those who are lawfully entitled to receive and possess NFA firearms from doing so under the very regime Congress created, and most states recognize, for this purpose. On the other hand, ATF has articulated no reason why the current regime has proven unworkable or how imposing these additional burdens on responsible, law-abiding persons would enhance public safety.

The comments appear to be overwhelmingly in opposition to the changes in 41P and articulate many reasons why the proposal should not be implemented.  The BATFE must now review all of the submitted comments and replies before making a decision – which is expected to come in early 2015.

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