NFA Rule Change Receives Top Billing in BATFE Portion of Federal Regulatory Agenda

The Introduction to the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions was published today in the Federal Register, and it contained what may be a telling excerpt regarding BATFE’s proposed rule 41P.  The Unified Agenda is essentially the roadmap for regulatory planning throughout the coming year.  According to the publication’s summary, the document is meant to “identify regulatory priorities and provide additional detail about the most important significant regulatory actions that agencies expect to take in the coming year.”  Obviously, one agency in particular is of special interest around here:  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – or BATFE.

The Unified Agenda is a massive document, spanning 206 pages in PDF format.  Among those 206 pages, the BATFE’s “important significant regulatory actions” that have been identified as top priorities occupies two paragraphs.  Of those two paragraphs, the first – after a brief introduction of the BATFE – is dominated by discussion of the proposed rule 41P while everything else the BATFE plans to do for the next regulatory period is stuffed into the second paragraph:

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

ATF issues regulations to enforce the Federal laws relating to the manufacture and commerce of firearms and explosives. ATF’s mission and regulations are designed to, among other objectives, curb illegal traffic in, and criminal use of, firearms and explosives, and to assist State, local, and other Federal law enforcement agencies in reducing crime and violence. The Department is planning to finalize a proposed rule to amend ATF’s regulations regarding the making or transferring of a firearm under the National Firearms Act. As proposed, this 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.

ATF will continue, as a priority during fiscal year 2016, to seek modifications to its regulations governing commerce in firearms and explosives. ATF plans to issue regulations to finalize the current interim rules implementing the provisions of the Safe Explosives Act, title XI, subtitle C, of Public Law 107-296, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (enacted Nov. 25, 2002). ATF also has begun a rulemaking process that will lead to promulgation of a revised set of regulations (27 CFR part 771) governing the procedure and practice for proposed denial of applications for explosives licenses or permits and proposed revocation of such licenses and permits.

Note that this still does not mean that the BATFE is finalizing plans to implement the proposed rule.  As we previously reported, BATFE received approximately 9,500 comments about the proposal, each of which must be addressed before making a decision. Resources working on 41P may have been diverted to perusing some of the 310,000 or so comments received regarding the M855 ammo ban which must, likewise, be read and responded to.

It may well be that 41P is at the top of BATFE’s priority list simply to clear it from their docket, as they did with the “green tip ban,” and move on to other issues.  While it may not be much of an update, and firearms owners’ only recourse may still be to just “wait and see,” at least there is some indication that something is happening somewhere, and someone may be looking into it.



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