Arsenal Attorney’s clients could soon expect to receive faster approval of NFA applications. According to BATFE, sometime after December 15 but before Christmas, the eForm system will expand to accept ATF Forms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 9. In this blog we have presented background to these developments as well as next steps our clients could take to benefit from these developments.
For background, firearms regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA), include silencers/suppressors, short barrel rifles, short barrel shotguns, and full auto. NFA regulations are administered by BATFE, who issue tax stamps to approved applications to register NFA firearms following payment of the applicable tax.
Previously most applications to register NFA firearms have been submitted in hard copy followed by a wait of 6-9 months. During the Obama presidency, it was common for NFA applicants to wait as long as 18 months for a tax stamp. During this same period, ATF launched eForms, but it was limited to a few categories, such as ATF Form 5320.1, the ‘Application to Make and Register an NFA Firearm’ (Form 1). Typically, Arsenal Attorneys’ clients submitting Form 1’s electronically through eForms have received a tax stamp in just a few weeks. The most common Form 1 concerned building short barrel rifles (SBR). The new eForms system will accept Form 4 (ATF Form 5320.4), which is used to transfer an NFA firearm. The most common example of such an NFA transfer is the retail purchase of a silencer.
It may come as a surprise that eForms will expand to benefit NFA applicants during the Biden presidency. In fact, funding for eForms was previously budgeted due to the long-term efforts of firearms industry leaders, particularly Silencer Shop. In fact, Silencer Shop has maintained a close working relationship with ATF’s NFA Division to upgrade technology and improve efficiency. For example, in 2017 ATF adopted Silencer Shop’s proposal to bar code all the data in a Form 4. By scanning that code attached to the first page of an NFA transfer application, ATF staff avoided the need to manually input all that information. The combination of bar coding and the use of eForms for Form 1 greatly reduced the processing times for NFA tax stamps.
What if you have an NFA application pending with ATF?
Before cancelling NFA applications awaiting ATF approval, consider this guidance from the American Suppressor Association:
If you recently submitted an NFA application, keep it in the queue. We cannot stress this enough. Withdrawing your Form 4 and re-submitting electronically will take longer than allowing your Form 4 to make its way through the approval process. That’s because ATF isn’t going to dig through the tens of thousands of forms being processed to find your application. They’re going to wait until your Form 4 reaches an NFA examiners desk – the exact point at which it would normally be approved – to process your withdrawal. Instead of approving it though, they will acknowledge your withdrawal and release your serial number. You will not be able to re-submit an eForm 4 with the same serial number until ATF acknowledges your withdrawal and puts it back into your dealer’s inventory. Thus, withdrawing and re-submitting electronically will add months to your overall application process.
How can you take advantage of eForms?
NFA applicants could pursue a mixed strategy of buy now but wait and see. Once the new eForm system goes live, it is expected it will need 24-48 hours to become fully operational. Of course, Murphy’s law could apply to any launch of a government website. Recall the disastrous launch of the Obamacare website. Thus, it might be wise to wait and see when the new eForms is fully functional.
Nevertheless, this breaking news has sparked another spike in demand for NFA firearms, which could reduce inventories and increase prices. Remember, you can purchase an NFA firearm now, but delay the application until eForms is available. If eForms proves faulty and unreliable, then a traditional paper application could be a better option. That said, we encourage you to plan your next steps in cooperation with your FFL. Circumstances like the eForm launch highlight the importance of dealing with a reputable FFL who will provide good customer service and manage your NFA application through the ATF process.
Finally, we recommend use of a trust for any NFA application to avoid the danger of unlawful possession by those who have access to an NFA firearm. Also, an effectively designed trust, like Arsenal Attorneys’ proprietary Arsenal Gun Trust, can be a firearms-specific estate plan for an entire gun collection. We help clients ensure their firearms are distributed safely, lawfully, and privately. If you are an existing client, or if you have a trust obtained elsewhere, contact us to update your documents before submitting a new NFA application. Remember, if you have a poorly designed trust or a trust pre-dating the 2016 changes to the NFA regulations, you can update your existing trust by means of a 'restatement'. Contact us to learn more.
Arsenal Attorneys is a nationwide law firm headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia near metropolitan Washington, DC. The firm serves clients in over 30 states in estate planning, criminal defense, civil litigation, business law, landlord-tenant disputes, real estate, firearms law, restoration of rights, carry permits, and the firm’s proprietary Arsenal Gun Trust. Matthew Bergstrom is the firm’s Managing Attorney, and he is licensed in California, Michigan, Nevada, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.
Arsenal Attorneys and our Arsenal Gun Trust services will be featured in an upcoming online seminar on August 20 for lawyers concerning estate planning for firearms entitled, "Firearms in Estate Administration: Legal Issues, Executor Liability, Transferring Title I and II Guns, Penalties -- Understanding Gun Legal Designations, In-State and Out-of-State Transfers, Use of Gun Trusts."
This CLE webinar will guide estate planners and administrators on managing the legal challenges of firearms in estate and trust administration. The panel will discuss federal gun laws and firearm designations, issues for beneficiaries inheriting guns, in-state and out-of-state transfers and legal ownership, use of trusts and other entities to legally transfer guns, and best practices to avoid mishaps in the administration of estates or trusts holding firearms.
The administration of an estate holding firearms can cause increased expenses, fees, taxes, and potential liability if mishandled. Managing guns within an estate requires an in-depth knowledge of a myriad of federal and state regulations to adhere to in order to avoid excessive fines and criminal liability.
The National Firearms Act (NFA) encompasses strict prohibitions and restrictions on the transfer of certain firearms. Prohibited possession can be actual or constructive with zero tolerance for inadequate processes in the acquisition. Also, state laws will apply to transfers or sales of firearms within their jurisdictions. If there is an out-of-state transfer or sale of a gun, compliance with federal and state laws becomes more complicated.
Estate planners and executors must be mindful of the possibility that some beneficiaries may be ineligible to receive firearms and consider alternative methods to align with a client's intent, such as naming alternate recipients or by creating a gun trust. Trusts can legally hold the firearms and allows a trustee to lawfully possess the firearms and minimize administration issues regarding the transfer or sale of firearms during probate.
The panel will discuss the classification, ownership, and transfer rules applicable to firearms, and the creation and use of guns trusts and other planning methods to ensure the proper administration of an estate holding firearms.
Seminar Topics will also include:
For more information, contact Arsenal Attorneys using the contact form at our website.
This is the latest in a series of blogs summarizing state laws concerning firearms regulated under the National Firearms Act (“NFA”). It is not intended to be a comprehensive explanation of the law, nor is it intended as legal advice. You should always consult an attorney to determine how the law applies to particular circumstances. In this installment, we review Virginia law on silencers. Follow us to learn how various states regulate silencers and other NFA firearms, such as short barrel rifles and machine guns.
Silencers are legal in Virginia, and they may be used for hunting.
It is unlawful to carry publicly a loaded semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol designed to accommodate a silencer in the Cities of Alexandria, Chesapeake, Fairfax, Falls Church, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, or Virginia Beach or in the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Henrico, Loudoun, or Prince William; however, this restriction does not apply to a person with a concealed handgun permit or engaged in lawful hunting or lawful recreational shooting activities at an established shooting range or shooting contest. See Virginia Code Section 18.2-287.4.
Arsenal Attorneys serve clients in the area of firearms law. The firm serves clients across America from its headquarters in the metro-Washington, DC area. The firm is particularly renowned for its Arsenal Gun Trust, a solution helping clients in the registering, handling, and estate planning of firearms, particularly those regulated under the National Firearms Act. Arsenal Attorneys' team includes lawyers licensed to practice law in nearly every state where NFA firearms are lawful to possess.
This information is provided for informational purposes only, and it is not legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship.
Every day Arsenal Attorneys receives inquiries from across America about trusts and NFA firearms (silencers/suppressors, short barrel rifles, short barrel machine guns, AOWs, full auto, etc.). Here are the five most common topics we address for new and existing clients:
1. ATF Form 5320.20: Remember to submit this form to ATF if you have permanently relocated your NFA firearms. It is also required for interstate travel with NFA firearms, excluding silencers.
2. New Address: If you have a new address, identify this location as your trust's new 'place of administration' in a written statement providing notice to the beneficiary. As a courtesty, our firm drafts these statements for a very small fee.
3. New Design: If your Arsenal Gun Trust was drafted before 2016, or if your trust is not an Arsenal Gun Trust, we can completely revise it by means of a 'restatement.' Our new design provides guidance and customized tools to minimize the impact of Obama era regulations. It particularly helps you remove people before they must provide fingerprints and photos for NFA applications. See #4.
4. Add/Remove People: Contact us if you wish to change the people in a trust, particularly to exclude them from the fingerprint and photo requirements for new NFA applications. Remember, a person needs to provide fingerprints and photos only if they qualify as a 'responsible person' during the processing of an NFA application. We can help you appoint people to your trust after an NFA application is completed and when the fingerprinting and photograph requirements would no longer apply to those persons.
5. You Need a Trust: Ask us for an Arsenal Gun Trust if you want to register NFA firearms, to allow others to possess those arms, and to create an estate plan to avoid the need for new NFA registrations or a public probate court process.
For help with these and similar topics about the National Firearms Act, ATF regulations, and trusts, contact Arsenal Attorneys using our online form at this link.
Arsenal Attorneys is committed to answering your questions about estate planning, firearms, business law, litigation, and criminal defense issues.
We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.