Matthew Bergstrom will be an instructor for the American Bar Association's upcoming webinar on gun trusts for lawyers on May 21, 2014. Mr. Bergstrom will be addressing current regulations and proposed regulations on NFA firearms, such as silencers, short barreled rifles and shotguns, and machine guns. He will be discussing strategies for helping clients safely and lawfully acquire and handle these firearms, as well as preserving them for the next generation.
Each of Arsenal Attorneys clients receives similar guidance in each of our firm's consultations for the Arsenal Gun Trust. Each client becomes knowledgeable about current regulations and ATF procedures. Our goal is also to help our clients develop the ability to separate fact from fiction in the political debate over gun rights.
Each of our Arsenal Attorneys' clients requesting either our Lifetime or Multigenerational Arsenal Gun Trust receives a personal consultation. In each of those discussions, we begin by providing the client a briefing on current events. We begin by addressing ATF eFile.
EFile began last August as a tremendous benefit to NFA owners, as long as they used a legal entity like the Arsenal Gun Trust™. Using the eFile website, applicants received NFA tax stamps in 90-100 days, instead of the usual 9-12 months.
After seven months, numerous glitches were discovered in eFile. This caused ATF to shutdown the system to make numerous upgrades. Last week, the gradual relaunch of eFile began. According to ATF, applicants will soon be able to submit applications to make their own NFA firearms, and the system will soon handle transfers to and from gun dealers. All in all, eFile has been good news, and the new system could be better than before.
There’s good news for paper applications as well. ATF has tackled the backlog by assigning 30 additional people to that workload (15 were internal transfers and 15 were new hires). This enlarged team works seven days a week. In just a month since this surge took place, ATF completed 37% more applications, and the backlog of applications waiting was cut by 10%.
If you’ve delayed plans to acquire an NFA firearm because of the length of the process, now’s the time to reconsider your plans. We recommend you begin by creating an Arsenal Gun Trust™.
To learn more about ATF’s progress in eFile and NFA applications overall, read their official public statement about these issues below:
Dear Industry Colleague:
As a result of recent changes in state laws concerning certain National Firearms Act (NFA) firearms and devices and other factors, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has experienced an exponential increase in NFA applications in recent years and months. For example, in fiscal year 2005, while ATF processed nearly 41,600 NFA applications, by 2013 that number had skyrocketed by more than 380 percent to more than 199,900 applications. The increase is significant because of the volume as well as the short period of time in which applications have spiked.
To expedite processing, in 2013, after more than a year of development, ATF launched its “eForms” to provide a tool for more efficient filing of ATF firearms forms. When ATF implemented the eForms system, paper NFA Tax-Paid applications took 9 months to process, while eForms reduced processing time to within 100 days. After a year of successful implementation, in January 2014, ATF attended the annual Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) to spread the word about eForms and the system’s efficient processing of applications. Improvements noted in the eForms system include the following:
• form submission and payment processing time reduced to approximately 5 minutes from 3-4 business days;
• elimination of 8 weeks of data entry processing backlog;
• elimination of an estimated 30 days processing time due to errant data entry.
With these statistics in mind and based on the feedback from industry, the eForms initiative has clearly addressed a long overdue industry need. As a result, the number of registered users has grown from 673 in 2013 to more than 10,000 today. In fact, the number of eForms submitted has exceeded 50,000, with the most significant volume seen in Form 3 and Form 4 applications. Since January 2014, approximately 50 percent of NFA applications have been submitted via eForms. This surge in demand has created the need to temporarily scale back eForms submissions while the system is enhanced to handle greater capacity in the future.
To accommodate this substantial increase in application volume, ATF must enhance the eForms initiative to ensure that we can meet the industry’s needs as the volume of applications continues to exceed growth expectations. Our goal is to decrease processing times and continue to enhance NFA availability without impact from significant application spikes or volume increases as seen during the last few years.
To accomplish this goal, ATF will take aggressive steps immediately regarding eForms and existing paper application processes. Measures already taken include the following:
• ATF has surged staffing availability to seven days per week to process both eForms and paper applications. As a result, ATF has already reduced the backlog of applications from more than 80,000 to 73,700, an almost 8 percent reduction in the total backlog since March 20, 2014. Monthly processing volume has increased from 17,200 to 23,600 per month due to the surge, representing a 37 percent increase in form processing.
• ATF is immediately hiring 15 additional staff to assist in processing NFA applications. In addition, another 15 current staff members are cross-training to assist with NFA application processing.
• Staff from across ATF have been recruited to assist in backlog processing.
• ATF has prioritized Form 3 and Form 4 paper application processing, as appropriate, while we are bolstering eForms capabilities. This action will ensure that the highest volume of pending applications is given higher priority and that industry needs are met.
• ATF has engaged world-class private sector companies to assist in enhancing eForms capacity and functionality to provide industry with the most efficient service possible.
• ATF will limit routine maintenance and processing within the eForms system to one day each week, which will allow registered industry users to have the full eForms system capacity available during other days. Each Wednesday, a day selected based on use patterns and with the input of our customers, ATF will close the system for routine maintenance and processing. Application processing will continue outside of the system on all weekdays, but ATF will avoid routine maintenance and processing within the eForms system on other days to ensure that eForms remains available to our customers.
• This week, eForms will once again be available initially for the processing of Form 6 and Form 6A. As capacity is enhanced over the next several weeks, eForms will then continue to accept Forms 1, 2, 5, 9, 5300.11 and 10. All users may continue to submit paper forms throughout this process, and ATF will continue to surge and prioritize to ensure that this enhancement process does not impede commerce. Ultimately, our largest volume of requests, Form 3 and Form 4, will return to the new and improved eForms, which we expect to accomplish in the short term.
• ATF will continue to monitor application processing timelines on a weekly basis to ensure that progress is being made in the reduction of the backlog. At the same time, ATF will enhance the eForms system in ways that may avoid backlogs in the future, despite the spikes and volume increases. As additional enhancements or surge steps become apparent, we will adapt our plans to address those needs.
ATF and industry have benefitted from the eForms and ATF remains fully committed to its success and to the reduction of the backlog in paper and eForms applications.
The steps outlined above reflect ATF’s commitments, and we will ensure that our industry colleagues remain informed of our progress and have the opportunity to provide input on eForms enhancements.
We offer our sincere thanks to the eForms user community for your patience and support of the eForms system as these enhancements are completed.
Marvin G. Richardson
Deputy Assistant Director
ATF Enforcement Programs and Services
More states have joined the movement toward legalizing silencers as well as permitting their use in hunting.
Most recently Georgia and Alabama legalized hunting with silencers. Similar reforms are proposed in Louisiana. To learn if your state permits ownership of silencers and their use in hunting, consult the attached map created by the American Silencer Association.
There’s been much excitement in the NFA world since a recent letter from ATF addressed to a South Dakota gun dealer was leaked on the internet. Based on the legal reasoning ATF used in the letter, some are calling for a rush to use trusts to manufacture new machine guns. The letter has also been the basis of speculation about possible changes in ATF policies concerning the Gun Control Act and NICS checks for trusts.
Arsenal Attorneys will present the "Essentials of Self-Defense Law" at the headquarters of the National Rifle Association on Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 6:30-9:30pm (check-in at 6 pm). The firm’s attorneys, including a defense attorney and a former prosecutor, will explain what gun owners should know about their rights to protect themselves. The instructors will first present the law of self-defense using actual court cases. Students will then apply the law to real-life scenarios to determine when self-defense is justified. Finally, the class will explore the criminal justice system to understand how self-defense claims are handled by law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and jurors.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearrms and Explosives (ATF) has confirmed no action will be completed this year on their proposal known as '41P.' That proposal was originally drafted to create additional requirements for applications for NFA firearms by trusts, such as silencers, short barrel rifles (SBR) and machine guns; however the overwhelming opposition to the proposal caused ATF to delay the adoption of this proposal. In fact, 41P will likely encounter more obstacles which could delay, alter, or prevent the proposal from becoming a final order. No one really knows if or when the 41P proposal would ever be adopted.
Separately, according to reports at the recent National Firearms Law Seminar in Indianapolis, any final rules by ATF will be prospective only. This means that existing trusts and NFA tax stamps will be grandfathered in and the new rules would not apply to existing trusts or any trusts and NFA tax stamps applications already submitted to ATF.
During our Arsenal Gun Trust consultations, Arsenal Attorneys advises each client on such developments by providing a briefing on current events. This helps each client separate fact from fiction during the ongoing debate about firearms regulations. For example, by law, ATF must provide a date when a proposal could become a final order. In the case of '41P', ATF originally posted a date for a final order of 06/00/2014. Now the ATF has changed that date to 01/00/15. Neither of these dates appear to take into account the time needed to resolve all the flaws in 41P and the logistical challenges it would face before it could be implemented by the federal bureaucracy. Similar proposals have taken many years to become a final order, and many proposals like this never became final orders. Contact us to learn how we can help you protect your firearms and your loved ones in light of the ever-changing regulations.
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