For those of you who have followed the ATF 41-P proposed rule you know that the ATF is considering requiring additional paperwork and documentation supporting Form 4 and Form 1 applications for entity submittals. Specifically, all “responsible persons” will be required to submit fingerprint cards, pictures, and a chief law enforcement officer (CLEO) sign off.
This saga has been ongoing since the ATF published a proposed rule in August of 2013. The comment period closed in December of 2013 and the ATF set a response date for six months later. Ever since, the ATF has pushed the date forward in six month increments until now. Recently, the ATF extended their self appointed deadline from December 2015 to January of 2016.
NFA owners are asking themselves: “What does this mean?” Unfortunately, I have no inside information to offer, but I can speculate with the best of them!
The short extension period indicates ATF expects action sooner than later. This is in line with the Obama Administration’s announced intention to take as many executive actions as possible to restrict gun rights. With only a year left in office, Obama has little hope of pushing controversial gun control legislation through a solidly Republican House and Senate. Instead, the President is intent on accomplishing his goals through executive fiat. ATF 41-P is one way to extend background checks and discourage gun ownership through increased transactional costs of acquiring firearms.
The President, and by extension the ATF, is likely motivated by the potential passage of H.R. 2578 which contains funding prohibitions designed to prevent agencies from implementing anti-gun rules. One of these prohibitions would stop the ATF from spending any funds on making a rule that would extend the CLEO signature requirement of the NFA to entity submittals. This bill has already passed the house and is in front of the Senate.
If the threat of H.R. 2578 passage is motivating the ATF then it is likely that any final rule will require a CLEO sign off. Assuming this the case, the ATF is likely racing the Senate to put in place a final rule prior to implementation of legislation preventing the same. This is in keeping with Mr. Kraut’s article detailing the addition of three extra comment reviewers for ATF 41-P.
Thus, as pure speculation based on the reasoning above, I expect to see action sooner than later (say the first half of 2016). And I’m guessing that any final rule will include the requirement of a CLEO signature. This is bad news for people residing in counties, such as York County, SC, where the sheriff refuses to sign. Only time will tell what actually happens.