Tuesday, January 16, 2024

ATF and FBI Launch Updated Appeals Process for NFA Application Denials and Delays

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have recently established a revised and formalized appeals process for certain National Firearms Act (NFA) applicants. This new system, effective this month, allows for appeals against denials or delays in NFA applications.

The collaboration between ATF and FBI, formalized last October, addresses longstanding requests for a more structured approach to contest NFA application rejections. This need became particularly evident with the introduction of the new brace rule, highlighting issues in the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) segment of the NFA application process.

When an NFA tax stamp application is submitted, the ATF forwards the applicant's details to the FBI for a NICS check, which confirms the applicant's eligibility to own a firearm. While the system aims for immediacy, delays and open statuses are not uncommon, leading to complications in the application process.

Previously, if a NICS check was delayed beyond 88 days, the FBI would close the check without a clear approval or denial, resulting in an automatic denial of the NFA application by the ATF. Applicants faced significant challenges in understanding and resolving the cause of such delays.

The new policy introduces a more transparent and accessible appeals process. For denials, applicants can now use the FBI's "Firearm Related Challenge" (FRC), an administrative appeal process for challenging NICS denials. The ATF will provide applicants with a NICS Transaction Number (NTN) to initiate this challenge.

For delays, applicants can turn to the Voluntary Appeal File (VAF) process. This is another administrative appeal route specifically designed for delay issues. Similar to denial cases, the applicant will receive an NTN and guidance on utilizing the VAF process to address the delay.

It's important to note that the new policy specifically addresses issues related to the FBI NICS system. Denials made directly by the ATF are not covered under this new procedure.

This policy revision reflects an effort to streamline the NFA application process, providing clearer guidance and recourse for applicants facing delays or denials in their attempts to legally obtain NFA-regulated firearms.

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