NFA

Iowa Becomes 42nd State to Legalize Silencers

Governor Branstad Signs HF2279 Into Law

HawkeyeShhIn an update to yesterday’s story about support for gun mufflers in Iowa and New Hampshire, Iowa’s governor has signed the proposed legislation into law, making suppressors legal for civilian ownership.

Iowa has become the 42nd state to legalize suppressors. House File 2279, a bill introduced by Rep. Matt Windschitl and Rep. Terry Baxter, recently passed the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee on March 2, 2016 by a wide margin of 11-2. The bill moved through the Iowa Senate without issue, and has now been signed by Governor Terry Branstad.

After three years of efforts by the American Suppressor Association, the National Rifle Association, and the Iowa Firearms Coalition to educate lawmakers on the benefits and realities of suppressors, HF 2279 was met with positive response.

This victory in Iowa is bringing hope to the eight other states where suppressors are still illegal for civilians to own. As part of their “No State Left Behind” campaign, the American Suppressor Association will now turn its attention to those states, including California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York.

Joshua Waldron, CEO of SilencerCo, says “SilencerCo has been a strong supporter of the American Suppressor Association since its inception. We’re proud of the hard work they have put behind HF 2279 along with the help of the NRA and the Iowa Firearms Coalition. Because of the determination and educational push by these groups, Iowans can now enjoy the same rights as are held by law-abiding citizens in 41 other states.”

There is also proposed legislation to remove suppressors from the purview of the National Firearms Act (NFA) altogether through the Hearing Protection Act.

Iowa and New Hampshire See Support for Suppressors

Legislation Pending to Allow Wider Silencer Adoption

SHOT_6481In addition to the pending nationwide Hearing Protection Act, several state bills are on deck to allow suppressor use for hunting in New Hampshire and suppressor ownership in Iowa. Members of the Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation involved in the Sportsman’s Caucus attended silencer demo shoots this month to learn more about how these highly-regulated (for some reason) devices can help protect shooters and those around them.

On March 7, members of the New Hampshire Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus attended a suppressor demonstration at Sig Sauer Academy in Epping, New Hampshire.  The event offered an opportunity to educate members of the Caucus on firearm suppressors.  The educational demonstration came just two days prior to a hearing on HB 500 (a bill allowing suppressors for hunting purposes) in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where it was reported out by a unanimous 4-0 vote.

On March 17, HB 500 cleared the Senate, by a unanimous 23-0 vote, and now heads back to the House for concurrence.   Continue reading

SHhhhhhhOT Show 2016 – The Silencers of SHOT Show

SuppressorsThe popularity of gun mufflers has exploded over the past few years thanks, in part, to efforts by manufacturer conglomerates, silencer demos and events, social media hash-tags that bring awareness (#SilencersAreLegal, #FightTheNoise), and the relative ease of procuring them – despite the blatantly unconstitutional  restrictions placed on them by laws and BATFE rulings.  There is even legislative action to make them even easier to procure – requiring only a 4473 instead of the tedious NFA paperwork and wait time (contact your reps!).

As such, it is no surprise that recent years at SHOT Show have seen an increase in suppressors in display, and the 2016 show was no exception.   Continue reading

Changes to ATF eForms are Underway – Now to be Called FEAM

eForms Changing to Firearms and Explosives Application Module (FEAM)
Liason says system wont be ready in time to demo at SHOT Show

ATFeformsAs a BATFE eForms valued custome(what, you don’t have your frequent buyer’s card?), we received an update email today to notify us about some changes that are coming in the system.

The first change that you will notice is the name.  No longer will it be called “eForms.”  Rather, it will go by the new moniker of “Firearms and Explosives Application Module (FEAM)”.  This change, the BATFE says, is to emphasis that FEAM is more than a “fillable form”.

A Business Process Module

The advisory maintains that, instead of just being a form, the system is a “business process module” and gives a list of minimum the functionalities, listed below.  Although it doesn’t explicitly say as much, reading between the lines might lead one to believe that the changes are, in part, to pave the way to accommodate (or not) the requirements of ATF 41F (nee 41P).  It also sounds like they may be scrapping all of that hard work that they had been promising was underway toward the reboot of the eForms Form 4 functionality.

  • Auto assignmentAll applications will be immediately upon submission assigned to an examiner for processing.  I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  It seems like it could slow down some applications if it immediately goes onto the desk of a slow or grumpy examiner versus working its way through the queue to land on the first available desk.
  • Auto approvalSome forms, like the ATF Forms 2 and 3, if they meet certain pre-determined criteria will be automatically approved by the FEAM system upon submission.  This generally sounds like a good thing, as it could cut down on the amount of time buyers spend waiting for custom-built NFA items to hit the registry from the manufacturer or for the transfer to their local dealer to go through so they can start waiting on their Form 4.
  • Internal controls and performance measurement reportingATF has a full audit trail of every application received with date and time stamps for every step in the process. Digital signatures can be used to lock down portions of the form to ensure the security of the data and the authenticity of the submitter.
  • Improved business processes with automatic Records Management & Retention, as mandated by the Office of Management and Budget.
  • Electronic Signature (for submitter and ATF personnel)provides enhanced authentication, validation and improves processing and approval.  From an individual viewpoint, this doesn’t sound like that meaningful of a change; particularly barring the absence of a mechanism for users to submit fingerprints and photos – which will soon be required for all non-SOT users.
  • Enhance Industry satisfaction: user-friendly interaction.  Aww, look… the BATFE is humble.  To be honest, the eForms interface couldn’t have got much worse.  It looked like a hello world website from the ’90s.  But it suited its purpose as an online fillable form.
  • FEAM provides the Application Program Interface (APIs) needed to update the existing ATF back end databases, to allow for the batch submission of multiple forms using one computer session.  Yahtzee.  Bulk forms.
  • Improves efficiency for the Enforcement Programs and Services staffForms can be automatically routed, evaluated and tracked so that final determinations can be made in a consistent and expeditious manner.

BATFE-MolonLabe-SHOTThe advisory also indicates that they had anticipated being able to demo FEAM v1.0 at SHOT Show this upcoming week, but – shockingly – they didn’t have it done in time.  Drats!  We had hoped to see something good when we stopped by their show booth this year.

We had hoped to be able to present the first iteration of FEAM at the 2016 SHOT Show. ATF performed an assessment of what was contracted to be developed for FEAM and what the contractor planned to deliver. At the end of the assessment, all parties involved felt that the product outlined in the current contract did not fully provide all the functionality that we expected, or that the industry requested. For these reasons we decided that rather than to continue on the current course, we would take the steps listed below to ensure that FEAM is a worthwhile investment for both the industry and ATF:

  1. Curtail the current development effort.
  2. Determine what is needed to sustain the existing eForms system, until the full requirements for FEAM can be determined and developed.
  3. Make the necessary changes to eForms to stabilize the infrastructure with the ever-increasing user population.
  4. Determine if we can re-introduce the Form 3 to the current eForms, through load testing and other system validations.
  5. Perform an assessment of the ATF and industry requirements for FEAM.
  6. Secure required funding for a new FEAM initiative, based on the revised requirements.
  7. Restart the FEAM initiative, to include industry participation during the requirements gathering and testing processes.

We look at this as only a minor delay. It is our intention to use this delay to acquire the tools and resources necessary to develop a product that will provide more functionality and a stable workflow process and infrastructure. All the work previously done on FEAM is not lost. It will be the foundation for the work that is yet to come.

BOHICA: 41F (nee 41P) is Here

BATFE LogoAttorney General Lynch Signs Off 41P Final Ruling.  It WILL Happen in as little as 180 days.

Included in the president’s inappropriately named “New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and Make Our Communities Safer” is the official harbinger of the BATFE’s 41P rule change.

Despite NFA owners being among the most law abiding gun owners who already have to jump through the most hoops, and despite the fact that – on average – NFA firearms are pretty much never used in crimes, the president’s edicts makes it more difficult to purchase what he calls “some of the most dangerous weapons and other items” through a trust, corporation, or other legal entity.

This change will require fingerprints, photographs, and background checks for all “responsible persons” of the trust or other legal entity.  It is unclear what this change will do to the ability for legal entities to use the eForms system, which the BATFE claims to have been spending considerable time and resources on improving and getting the broken eForms Form 1 functionality working again, as the system appears to have no mechanism for accepting photographs or fingerprint or information.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch describes the change as “[closing] the ‘trust loophole’ that people have been using to avoid registering by going through legal trusts, corporations or other legal status.”  And – in case this is confusing for some – by “loophole,” AG Lynch means “the law as written.”

Lynch signed off on the rule making and the official BATFE announcement is here.  The release states that rule 41P “is effective 180 days after date of publication in the Federal Register,” which can be at any time now.  It is unclear whether the BATFE will ever respond, as required, to the 9,000+ comments received regarding the rule change with anything other than “who cares, the president has a pen and a phone.

41P Final Ruling Summary:

The Department of Justice is amending 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 (NF A). This final rule defines the term “responsible person,” as used in reference to a trust, partnership, association, company, or corporation; requires responsible persons of such trusts or legal entities to complete a specified form and to submit photographs and fingerprints when the trust or legal entity files an application to make an NFA firearm or is listed as the transferee on an application to transfer an NFA firearm; requires that a copy of all applications to make or transfer a firearm, and the specified form for responsible persons, as applicable, be forwarded to the chief law enforcement officer (CLEO) of the locality in which the applicant/transferee or responsible person is located; and eliminates the requirement for a certification signed by the CLEO. These provisions provide a public safety benefit as they ensure that responsible persons undergo background checks. In addition, this final rule adds a new section to ATF’ s regulations to address the possession and transfer of firearms registered to a decedent. The new section clarifies that the executor, administrator, personal representative, or other person authorized under State law to dispose of property in an estate may possess a firearm registered to a decedent during the term of probate without such possession being treated as a “transfer” under the NF A. It also specifies that the transfer of the frrearm to any beneficiary of the estate may be made on a tax-exempt basis

Read the full final ruling.

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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