TYR Tactical

Chief Law Enforcement Officer Certification To Be Removed From National Firearms Act Transfers

Yesterday, the BATFE issued their ruling on the so-called 41P Notice of Proposed Rule Making regarding NFA transfers. Timing of the release was critical to ensure it was ready for President Obama’s announcement today of anti-2A Executive Action. 

I was up into the wee hours reading this 248 page ruling. I was also on the phone with the ASA so kudos to them for getting this together. While the dreaded CLEO signature is indeed gone, it’s bittersweet. Corporations which own NFA items in particular are going to have a rough time dealing with the new regulatory requirements. And, use of a trust will become equally painful. Additionally, I’m not comvinced the change in the CLEO’s role in this process is enough to prevent reluctant CLEO’s from holding up transfers. At any rate, I expect this to cuase a panic buy of NFA items as we have 180 days from the time this change is published in the Federal Register until it takes effect.

I urge you to read the entire ruling because it references the thousands of comments the government received when it opened the proposed rule change up. www.atf.gov/file/100896/download

Written by ASA on January 5, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, January 4th, the Obama administration issued the final rule for Docket No. ATF 41P, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published on September 9th, 2013. The final rule has multiple provisions, most notably the elimination of the CLEO certification requirement for all NFA applications. The NPRM initially sought to amend the making and transfer process for National Firearms Act (NFA) firearms by extending the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) certification requirement for all NFA transfers to private persons, including those conducted by a trust or legal entity. Had this measure been enacted as drafted, it would have resulted in widespread de facto bans of NFA items in jurisdictions where CLEOs refuse to sign applications. To prevent this scenario, the American Suppressor Association (ASA) rallied the suppressor community by leading the charge to submit comments in opposition to the proposed rule. In all, over 9,500 comments were submitted to the Federal Register, virtually all of which opposed the proposal to expand CLEO certifications.

“Since the announcement of ATF 41P, the American Suppressor Association has spearheaded efforts alongside partner organizations on the State and Federal levels to block the expansion of CLEO certification requirements,” said Knox Williams, President and Executive Director of the ASA. “For the first time in 82 years, local law enforcement will no longer have de facto veto power over any NFA applications. 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.”

In addition to removing the CLEO certification requirement, the rule creates a mandatory CLEO notification process, and establishes a definition for the term “responsible person” in relation to NFA trusts and legal entities. It also requires that the trust or legal entity provide complete proof of existence, and that all responsible persons associated with the trust or entity submit photos and fingerprint cards with each NFA application, unless the applicant entity has had an application approved within the past two years, and has had no change in structure or personnel. The final rule will not apply to pending or previously approved applications, and is set to take effect 180 days after it is published in the Federal Register. This will occur on or near July 2nd, 2016.

Although the elimination of the CLEO certification requirement is a victory for the suppressor community, the ASA still believes that suppressors should be removed entirely from the NFA. To accomplish this goal, we are working closely with Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) to pass the Hearing Protection Act (H.R. 3799, S. 2236). The HPA will remove suppressors from the onerous requirements of the NFA, and instead require purchasers to pass an instant NICS check, the same background check that is used during the sale of long guns. In doing so, law-abiding citizens will remain free to purchase suppressors, while prohibited persons will continue to be barred from purchasing or possessing these accessories. To contact your legislators in support of the HPA, please visit our Hearing Protection Act legislative contact form.



35 Responses to “Chief Law Enforcement Officer Certification To Be Removed From National Firearms Act Transfers”

  1. FUAROCK says:


  2. Greg A says:

    I’m glad to see it go. As stated above, this piece of antiquity was beyond its useful life. I don’t think there will be panic buying but a flood of new purchasers that will emerge from the areas that were held hostage by elected or appointed officials too scared or unwilling to stand up for the rights of law abiding citizens that they are supposed to serve.

    • SSD says:

      I see a lot of new transfers using current trusts as many have trust members that are scattered all over the place.

      • BillC says:

        Yup. Also, many of us usually just have the wife on it and dragging your Significant Other out to get photographed and fingerprinted is less than ideal since she is already putting up with the sheer cost of the item and associated tax.

  3. John says:

    “It also requires that the trust or legal entity provide complete proof of existence, and that all responsible persons associated with the trust or entity submit photos and fingerprint cards with each NFA application, unless the applicant entity has had an application approved within the past two years, and has had no change in structure or personnel.”

    So, every time I purchase a suppressor or SBR, every person on my trust has to submit a fingerprint and photo?

    • SSD says:

      The way the information reads, you may not have to resubmit everything if the next transfer is within 24 months of the last one. Just reference the approved transfer. However, it’s not crystal clear to me that this is the case for the individual info. Implementation will be interesting.

      • P.J. says:

        My reading is that the NFA itself in section 5812 requires fingerprints and a photo with any transfer to an individual and that the regs can’t change that.
        So the trade off for a trust is that you need fingerprints and photos for multiple people, but only once if you keep buying within 2 years of the last purchase.

        If the ASA wants to present this as some kind of deal they made I think they made a bad one all in all.

  4. AlBloch says:

    Just skimming for now, but seems to be a huge headache for corporations. They will need to provide documentation and fingerprint cards for every employee for every transfer?

  5. Jeff S says:

    Great, I can hardly wait to round up prints, photos and whatever else they want from my wife, dad and brother.


    Too bad there wasn’t an EO to make the BATFE process NFA paperwork in a timely manner.

    • james says:

      No requirement but supposedly there will be additional staff at ATF to speed the applications along and 24 hr staffing. Better,but ideally supressor, sbr/sbs, and aow would just be like any other gun- their inclusion in NFA was every bit as ridiculous as the features that magically turned a rifle into an ” AssaultWeapon”. Just pointless nonsense.

  6. Evets Steve says:

    What a headache for any PMC, even if their main armory is OCONUS they still need something back home for training.
    Maybe after the ATF gets a xerox box full of fingerprint cards they’ll re-think this for medium/large corporations.

  7. Dellis says:

    As a single trust owner….I’m so fricken confused right now.

  8. Ashcrack Baqsack says:

    In Illinois, Suppressor are considered illegal.
    Does this new ruling affect this?
    I’m only considering it because of impending hearing loss.
    Despite wearing hearing protection both cup and in-ear.

  9. Dynamic Realism says:

    Is the new “responsible person” requirement worth the loss of the CLEO requirement in most people’s opinions?

    • SSD says:

      not in mine considering the requirement to notify could be just as big of a hurdle.

    • BillC says:

      The requirement to notify makes absolutely no sense. It is creating a paperwork burden on local police and also lets local police have a database of future NFA items.

  10. Arrow 4 says:

    Any idea what will happen to current submissions under a trust if they are not completed within the 120 day window? I submitted on 2 more suppressors the end of November.

    • HSR47 says:

      It’s a 180 day window, and it doesn’t even start until the ultimate form of the final rule is published in the federal register.

  11. Mike Nomad says:

    Looks like they are simply kicking the CLEO can down the road. CLEO can still be the primary bottleneck. From pages 19/20, and repeated elsewhere:

    “In accordance with the instructions provided on Form 5320.23, a certification for each responsible person completed by the local chief of police, sheriff of the county, head of the State police, State or local district attorney or prosecutor, or such other person whose certification may in a particular case be acceptable to the Director. The certification for each responsible person must be completed by the CLEO who has jurisdiction over the area in which the responsible person resides. The certification must state that the official is satisfied that the fingerprints and photograph accompanying the application are those of the responsible person and that the certifying official has no information indicating that possession of the firearm by the responsible person would be in violation of State or local law.”

    My favorite bit so far (p. 42): “The Department disagrees that it must show a direct link between the proposed rule and enhanced public safety. Congress has directed the Department to ensure that individuals who are prohibited from possessing NFA firearms do not obtain them, even if those individuals have no intention of using them in an unlawful manner.”

    • P.J. says:

      This may create some interesting issues. My take is that the U.S. Attorney’s Office believes that the CLEO certification, if applied to all means of NFA ownership, would be struck down by the courts. It wasn’t “eliminated” for nothing. Now we wait and see if CLEOs will still refuse to certify.