Suppressor industry works with ATF to reduce paperwork wait times

A group of suppressor makers and sellers are now using a barcode system to speed up “virtual error free data exchange” with the  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Announced Friday by Dead Air Armament, Gemtech, and Silencer Shop, the program uses a form generator to streamline the Form 4 Application process used in the transfer of National Firearms Act controlled items such as suppressors. The process cuts out the need for ATF data entry personnel to manually type information into their system, speeding up the process.

The free online form generator, tied to the FFL eZCheck system, auto fills dealer information and contains an embedded barcode, “Bringing the form filing procedure into the 21st century.” Once the application is received at ATF, NFA division personnel use 2D barcode scanners to input the data, both speeding up the processing and minimizing data entry errors, which are common.

Silencer Shop began using the barcode process on July 11 and have seen impressive results, The Firearm Blog reported.

“In testing the new barcoding system we’ve already submitted over 3,000 Form 4’s to the ATF, and the ATF time to process these forms has improved tenfold,” said Texas-based Silencer Shop in a statement, predicting eventual wait times of 30-60 days rather than the current delay which can stretch eight months or longer.

NFA form processing has been a hot-button item with federal regulators in recent months. In April, ATF split its NFA branch into a separate division in hopes of providing more oversight and efficiency. As illustrated in statistics maintained by the agency, in the decade between 2006 and 2016 the number of NFA forms processed ballooned nearly tenfold from 296,127 to more than 2.5 million.

At the time of the split, Dillon McConnell, a public affairs specialist with the ATF, told Guns.com the agency had increased the number of Legal Instruments Examiners — specialists who process these forms — from nine in 2012 to 27 to address “unprecedented” volumes of NFA applications while planning to leverage “technology enhancements” moving forward.