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BATFE Solicits Comments on Poorly-Conceived NFA Transfer Proposal

Friday, October 11, 2013

As we previously reported, the Obama administration, via the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, has proposed a new rule governing applications by legal entities such as trusts and corporations to make and transfer National Firearms Act (NFA) firearms.  To justify the proposed rule, the administration and BATFE have stated that over 39,000 applications for transfers of NFA firearms to trusts or corporations were received in 2012 alone.  Nevertheless, the agency cited not a single case in which an NFA firearm transferred to a legal entity was used in the commission of a crime.   

The proposed rule would significantly complicate transfers of NFA firearms to legal entities. An especially burdensome provision, for example, would create new classes of "responsible persons" for each type of legal entity and require that each of these persons submit fingerprints and a photograph with a transfer or making application, as well as undergo a background check.  BATFE seems to ignore or misunderstand that many NFA firearm owners choose to use trusts to hold their NFA firearms and other property for estate planning reasons, one of which is to simplify the transfer of the firearms to the heirs of the owner. Thus, children, including those who are very young, are often beneficiaries of trusts.  The proposed rule seemingly would require even such children to be included in its expanded background check procedures.

Further complicating the transfer process, the proposed rule would require each "responsible person" of a legal entity to get a certificate or "sign-off" from a chief law enforcement officer (CLEO) before a transfer could be approved.  Not only will this further tie up limited government resources by potentially requiring multiple sign-offs and background checks to be done for each transfer, it will allow CLEOs who refuse to process NFA transfers for even the most law-abiding of citizens effectively to veto the transfer.  In these CLEOs' jurisdictions, the proposed rule would act as a de facto ban on the otherwise perfectly lawful transfer of NFA firearms. 

BATFE is now seeking comments on the proposed rule and has made multiple commenting options available.  NRA encourages you to make thoughtful and respectful comments to BATFE on the proposed rule. To comment, there are several options available:

Through the federal eRulemaking Portal;

By fax to:  
(202) 648-9741; or

By mail to: Brenda Raffath Friend, Mailstop 6N-602, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice, 99 New York Avenue NE., Washington, DC 20226; ATTN: ATF 41P.

All comments must include the agency name, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the proposed rule's docket number, ATF 41P.  The federal rulemaking website has tips on writing an effective comment that covers what agencies look for in the rulemaking process.  Written comments must be postmarked and electronic comments submitted on or before December 9, 2013.  The electronic submission site will close at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on December 9th.  Please note that all materials submitted for comment, including personally identifying information, will be made available to the public on the federal rulemaking website.  Note, too, that comments will continue to be accepted during the government shutdown.

BATFE has already received over 1,200 comments regarding the proposed rule.  We hope that the number and quality of comments in opposition to the proposed rule will encourage BATFE to abandon this poorly conceived rule, that will have zero impact on public safety, in favor of effective measures that truly target the criminal perpetrators who commit crimes.

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