For a few short years, the archaic system of printed paper, inked signatures and the United States Post Office was challenged by a Y2K-esque remote data system meant to transmit National Firearms Act (NFA) form applications. While the ATF EForms system still exists for some “non-consumer” level applications like Form 3’s (transfers between licensees), applications that lead to beautiful, delicious tax stamps for short barrels and silencers remains unavailable. The 41F rule change that required fingerprints and photographs for everyone, including responsible persons, cancelled EForm use by end users. The dream of “free candy” was dead – or at least put on hold – and NFA wait times are still calculated in months.
While the latest official NFA processing time update still shows Form 1s and Form 4s at a dismal six to seven months of wait time to approval, industry insiders speaking on the condition of anonymity are saying that three month turnarounds will be the new norm. Like you, I’ll believe it when I see it.
But hope springs eternal: the listing of EForm Form 1 and Form 4 submissions as “not yet available” in the latest update is at least promising. Again, rumors are flowing about the eventual electronic submission of fingerprints and the streamlining of FBI background check submissions and returns.
Surely anything is better than what we have now. As progressive as entities like Silencer Shop and other companies that are using fingerprint scanners are, current ATF protocols require printed forms and deliveries by the USPS. I’d make a joke about these processes being outdated decades ago, but the laws of NFA in general are continuously being shown to be surpassed by technology and innovation – for example, pistol stabilizing braces, binary triggers and additive manufacturing. (That’s the nicest way I can express my opinion.)
I wish I had better news: instant approvals, point-of-sale stamps or the abolishment of the NFA. I promise to keep you posted on any news.
As a result of regulatory changes, ATF Forms 1 and 4 are temporarily unavailable for submission through use of the eForms system. The workflows associated with these forms are being revised to incorporate the regulatory changes. As soon as the changes needed are completed, these forms will be restored to service in eForms.