On December 23, ATF launched a new system for applicants to complete various forms that ATF is responsible for administrating. For most gun owners, this change will primarily impact how applications for firearms regulated under the National Firearms Act (“NFA”) are processed.
Anyone who has submitted an NFA application in recent years is familiar with the long wait associated with acquiring any firearm regulated under the NFA. This wait is in large part due to the antiquated process used to process NFA applications combined with the recent growth in acquisition of NFA firearms.
ATF’s existing paper process for NFA applications dates back to the implementation of the NFA in 1934, but, in recent years, it has proven incapable of dealing with larger numbers of applications. According to ATF’s Annual Statistical Update, in 1990, ATF processed only 173,340 total NFA forms (Forms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 9). In 2020, that number reached 2,409,585. With more than an order of magnitude of change in the last 30 years, it was easy to see that ATF needed to change the application process.
While it would be better for gun owners if there simply were no taxation and registration scheme required to acquire NFA firearms, simplifying the current process and reducing wait times is certainly a step in the right direction.