ATF reminds CLEOs about rule change

Presently, the signature of a chief law enforcement officer will not be needed to transfer heavily regulated items like machine guns, silencers and short-barreled long guns.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sent an open letter to CLEOs last week updating them about the new rule, which goes into effect next month, regarding National Firearm Act items.

Starting July 13, patrons will only need to notify a chief officer — usually his or her local sheriff — about the item rather than obtaining a signature, a step viewed by gun rights advocates as burdensome because the CLEO could arbitrarily decline to sign off.

The new rule also amends the definition of “responsible person” associated with an unlicensed trust or legal entity to mean an individual, company or organization named directly in the document to manage the items, the letter says. Responsible persons are required to complete ATF’s “NFA Responsible Person Questionnaire” and forward a copy to a CLEO.

There’s one caveat to the new rule though. The ATF says applications to make or transfer NFA firearms postmarked before the effective date will be processed under the current rules, so pending applications will still need to obtain a CLEO signature.

ATF issued the rule change in January alongside President Obama’s round of executive actions aimed at modernizing the background check system. The updated rule is the final version of ATF 41P, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking originally published in 2013.

Pro-gun groups supported the removal of the outdated measure.

“While their inclusion in the process made sense in 1934, before background checks, or even computers existed, the removal of this antiquated measure from the NFA process is a major victory for the suppressor and NFA communities,” said Knox Williams, president of American Suppressor Association, in a statement to Guns.com in January.