Here’s how the ATF works:
Without going through any actual legislative process, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives writes and announces some regulation.
If you, as a citizen trying to obey the letter of the law, don’t abide by this regulation for which your representatives in Congress have not voted, you are subject to potentially severe consequences.
It’s not that simple, though –
The ATF, the fine, upstanding organization that it is, writes these regulations in intentionally vague and ambiguous language. Then, they announce their “interpretation” of the law that they themselves wrote, and your job is to follow not just the letter of the law, but the ATF’s interpretation of the law.
That interpretation is subject to change at any time, and in the case of ATF-41F, that’s exactly what has happened.
41F lays out the requirements to comply with National Firearm Act standards when purchasing items regulated therein. These regulations were made official on January 4th, 2016 – less than one month ago – and already, the ATF has announced that they don’t mean what they say.
According to the actual text, and the original ATF “interpretation” of it, NFA items purchased by a legal trust (“legal entity”) do not need the submit fingerprints and passport photos with Form 1 and Form 4 submissions as long as these requirements, as stated in ATF-41F, are met:
- A legal entity is submitting the application instead of an individual
- Documentation is submitted proving the validity of the entity (a copy of the trust)
- The trust has not changed in the last two years
NOW, though, ATF has announced that they’ve changed their minds.
They announced this at the SHOT show…
To a select group of people…
A select group which did NOT include any representatives from NRA ILA, NSSF, GOA, any media outlets, or any attorneys, including those that filed comments…
And they haven’t published their comments anywhere that the general public can reach them.
Sounds about right, doesn’t it?
In short, here’s what they’ve decided:
Instead of exempting legal entities from the document requirements (as is actually stated in the 248 page text of 41F) the ATF has now “interpreted” the 2 year exemption to mean only that applicants need not submit another copy of the trust if it hasn’t changed in the last two years.
Meanwhile, you DO need to submit your fingerprints – which probably haven’t changed in a lot more than 2 years – and a passport photo, with each Form 1 or Form 4.
These new regulations go into effect on July 13, 2016, which is good news since you have some time to get your applications in before the changes go live.
Also, the ATF has been clear (as clear as the ATF ever is, anyway) that any applications POSTMARKED before July 13 still fall under the “old” rules and won’t require fingerprints or photos if the other criteria are met.
What this means for you:
Because e-Forms was not designed to meet these updated requirements, you can expect e-filing to be unavailable for a while after July 13th. It only took two years to build the current system…
This announcement so soon after the official publication of ATF 41F is likely a sign of things to come, so stay tuned in case of additional updates.
Keep in mind, too, that we’re not attorneys…but these people are. Still, Gadsden Guns reminds you that your legal advice should never come from Google. If you’ve still got questions, get in touch and we’ll either give you the short answer or point you in the direction of an expert.
There’s still a lot of gray area involved, as is the usual for anything from the ATF, but we’ll keep you informed as new information becomes available.