By John Crump
U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- The Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco looks to be getting much needed additional funds for its NFA branch.
The NFA branch is responsible for reviewing applications and issuing tax stamps for such items as suppressors, short-barreled rifles, and short-barreled shotguns.
Under the new Justice Department FY2019 budget, the ATF would receive funding to hire an additional 25 more employees to help with the growing backlog of NFA firearm applications. Some in the industry have called the delays in issuing tax stamps an artificial roadblock to the people's right to keep and bear arms.
Under Obama, the ATF's eFile system was removed causing all new applications to be filled out on paper and processed by hand. Also, the Obama administration put in place new requirements such as having to submit passport pictures, and fingerprints for people using a gun trust. Critics at the time accused Obama of instituting a backdoor gun control measure.
Speaking to a current ATF employee on the condition of anonymity because she is not authorized to speak for the ATF states that the additional headcount is badly needed. The employee stressed that the backlog is getting longer every day. The employee also stated that the new headcount will not clear the delay but would slow the growth of the wait times for new tax stamps to be issued by the ATF.
“We get slammed every day,” The employee told me. “We continue to see the backlog grow with no end in sight.”
The increase in funding has support in the firearms industry. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the industry trade group that host SHOT Show believes that the additional funding will take the pressure off the already overworked ATF employees.
“ATF is overwhelmed with NFA paperwork,” according to Lawrence Keane, senior vice president of the NSSF. “It has been a significant problem. It takes eight to nine months to process a single form,” Keane told ABC News.
“About time, no pun intended. Clearly, the need is to repeal the thoroughly unjustified National Firearms Act.” Willes K. Lee, a member of the Board of Directors for the National Rifle Association of America, told me. “Law-abiding citizens should not have their God-given rights infringed. I appreciate this administration taking steps to uphold the Second Amendment by processing the backlog.”
Luis Rose of Sterling Arsenal, which is a manufacturer of NFA firearms, has a different take on how the DOJ should use the money. He thinks the money should be used to update the broken NFA system.
“It should be electronized,” Rose told me. “Twenty-five [full-time employees] over a five-year budget cycle could easily pay for the technology and upgrades to reform and correct the obsolete NFA process.”
The budget does have its detractors such as the ever-present anti-gun Senator, Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein is against speeding up the NFA process and wishes to see the money spent on NICS. FYI Dianne.. the FBI runs NICS and not the ATF.
“Our country has seen three dozen mass shootings since 20 children, and six educators were murdered at Sandy Hook…Rather than focusing on a top gun lobby demand the administration should put money toward ATF to hire additional agents and improve the background check system,” Feinstein said.
Some News organizations have jumped into the fray with misleading headlines such as ABC News with the headline, “Trump DOJ wants to speed up sales and transfers of machine guns.” Ignoring the fact that machines guns are a tiny part of the tax stamps issued under the NFA.
Most of the tax stamps issued by the ATF are for suppressors. Shooters use suppressors to protect their hearing by lowering the decibels of a discharged firearm. Americans have registered more than 1,000,000 suppressors since 2011 bringing in $200 million in revenue to the federal government.
The $13.2 million for new employees is a Band-Aid on an overall broken system. The majority of the industry would like to see the NFA get updated to remove suppressors from the NFA and bills such as Hearing Protection Act get passed by congress.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%'ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on the history of the patriot movement and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, on Facebook at RealJohnCrump, or at www.crumpy.com.