The ATF’s new “Responsible Person” Form, Form 23, has been released in draft. Currently a copy can be found here. While generally giving us additional insight into the new application process coming in July, the Form 23 also clarifies a couple of earlier questions raised by ATF 41F. Specifically, the need to send fingerprints to the Chief Law Enforcement Officer and the nature of the two year window.
Instruction 7 on page 2 makes it clear that the fingerprint cards are only intended for the ATF. This instruction states in part : “No fingerprints are required with the copy of the form sent to the chief law enforcement officer.” Thus there is no longer a worry that additional fingerprint cards may be needed to accompany each and every Form 23 sent out.
Two Year Window
Unfortunately, earlier worries about the two year window only applying to information regarding the Trust itself and not the responsible persons has been confirmed by the instructions, or lack thereof, on Form 23. The instructions state that this form is due whenever an entity (trust) seeks to make or transfer a NFA firearm. No exceptions are given for the two year window.
The instructions on the Form 23 could have extended the two year window exception to all supporting information. This interpretation would be consistent with the reading of the plain text of the rule as it relates to information to be sent to the ATF. However, my understanding of the two year window exception is that it does apply to the Chief Law Enforcement Officer Notification. (See section “CLEO Notification Required Either Way” here.) The draft Form 23 is in keeping with my understanding of ATF 41F and the non-applicability of the exception to the CLEO Notification.
General Problems with the Form 23
The Form 23 in its draft state should be closely scrutinized for errors. For example, the instruction section to the CLEO mentions questions 6a through 6j, however there is no question after 6h on the draft Form 23. I believe these missing questions relate to citizenship and have been merged into section 7 below, but we cannot know this for certain.
Call for Comments
The ATF is currently soliciting comments on the draft Form 23. While I would like to claim a large number of comments in favor of extending the two year window exception to the Form 23 by clear inclusion on the instructions would get the ATF’s attention, I cannot. But, it can’t hurt. If you wish to comment, you can find the full instructions on how to here. For a simpler means, you can email the ATF at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ATF is pushing ahead with ATF 41F, and it is clear they will have a working process in place by July 13th. While there will still be many questions left unanswered, especially as to who is included as a “responsible person”, we can expect further clarification in the upcoming months.