Have you always longed for a silencer but never had the wherewithal to actually do the paperwork? You’re not the only one. By far the most difficult part of obtaining a silencer is waiting while the ATF processes your application. But that’s all changing this month. Because now, in December of 2021, the ATF is changing the game to help gun owners: allowing us to file our Form 4 online.
Why File an ATF Form 4?
According to the NFA (National Firearms Act), you need to file an ATF Form 4 any time you want to receive an NFA device if you’re not a registered FFL. While that includes a variety of items, like SBRs (short-barreled rifles) or AOW (any other weapon), the Form 4 has become notorious for one specific NFA item: silencers.
While Hiram Percy Maxim (the son of the illustrious Hiram Stevens Maxim, inventor of the Maxim Gun) invented the first silencer in 1902, the US government didn’t begin regulating them right off the bat.
Instead, the ATF started regulating silencers when Congress originally passed the NFA in 1934. They further amended silencer laws in 1986 to include any parts that could even be used to create a silencer. If the ATF catches you violating the NFA, you could receive up to $250,000 in fines and 10 years in jail. So, yeah – don’t do that.
Why Does E-Filing an ATF Form 4 Matter?
The main problem with Form 4s these days is their waiting time. According to experts, silencer waiting times could reach up to 370 days in 2021. That’s an insane amount of time to wait for a cylindrical piece of metal.
However, the ATF hopes that e-filing will significantly reduce the amount of waiting time associated with a Form 4. What’s more, e-filing will save a significant amount of your data on the ATF’s website, streamlining the process in the future.
The ATF did try to switch to e-filing Form 4s in the mid-2010s, but the results were disastrous. They’re hoping that the results will be different this time, since the entire Federal Government has switched many of their processes to cloud-based computing.
Only time will tell if this switch actually pays off. If you want to give e-filing a Form 4 yourself a shot, you can find a portal on the ATF’s website.