Lately the NFA world has been abuzz about potential changes to ATF regulations. Unlike laws, regulations are created not by Congress but by the agency in charge of administering the law. In this case those agencies are the BATFE (or ATF) and the Department of Justice.
The President’s push for new gun control laws has at least momentarily failed, and now it is feared he will turn his attention to the rule making process for regulations that do not require Congressional action. What does this mean for the NFA?
The Government has published a notice of proposed rule making. That is, they have not suggested a new rule, but they have alerted the public they intend to. The new rule would, among other things, change the transfer process for NFA firearms.
The ATF has suggested that trusts and other entities would be required to identify “responsible persons” who may be able to possess firearms owned by the entity. These people would then be subject to requirements to submit fingerprints and photographs. Additionally, CLEO sign off requirements are to be removed for all transfers and replaced instead with a notification from the ATF that a firearm has been registered in the CLEO area.
There are several concerns with these proposals not the least of which is that Congress has already defined “responsible persons” by law. It is also unclear what process an entity would have to go through if a “responsible person” was added. Adding a “responsible person” is not a transfer, and there is no basis in law for the ATF requiring information submission unless a transfer occurs. To create a seamless system the ATF is likely to overstep the bounds of what is allowed for by law and dare someone to take them to court on it.
That’s the bad news. The good news is the ATF has been here before in the recent past, and the last time they chose to take no action. It is possible that this effort may be overcome by events and forgotten.
No matter what happens, the NFA community will be monitoring the situation, and I will be sure to post updates if the situation develops. If you want to avoid the uncertainty of the future now is the time to go ahead and purchase NFA firearms. If you are in the market and need help with the legal side, please contact me. I can assist you in setting up a trust and place you in contact with multiple South Carolina Gun Shops that will have what you are after.