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April 17, 2014

ATF’s EPS Needs H-E-L-P

We have seen dramatic, unprecedented during peacetime, growth in the firearms and ammunition industry as the direct result of consumer demand for our products in the last five years. Not surprisingly, growth has placed added demand on the Office of Enforcement Programs and Services (EPS) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

EPS provides key customer service functions to the firearms and ammunition industry.  Today, the office simply does not have the funding or personnel it needs to serve the industry and, by extension, our customers.  This situation most recently resulted in the ATF’s troubled eForms system being taken down until further notice.  Users of the system were told by ATF in an email that “The eForms software is not performing to our expectations. As a result, we are taking the eForms system down until further notice.

It is now taking EPS more than 10 months to process National Firearms Act (NFA) paper forms.  The current backlog is estimated at more than 80,000 forms and growing.  Marking variances and import permits are both facing three-month delays.  See the ATF processing Time Chart.

NSSF estimates that the EPS operating budget should be increased from its current $15 million to $25 million in order to provide the level of service our industry needs to remain in compliance with federal law, service our customers, and operate our businesses so that they can grow and continue to provide increasing employment opportunities.

NSSF has been working to get additional resources to improve all ATF’s interactions with the industry. Many of our industry executives took this message to Capitol Hill during our annual Congressional Fly-In.  There is no need to raise taxes or fees to get EPS the resources it needs.  The money is there. All that Congress has to do is support language in the FY15 Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies appropriations bill that designates $25 million of the total ATF budget to Enforcement Programs and Services.

NSSF will continue to work to get ATF’s EPS office the resources it needs.  Stay tuned.  We will keep you apprised.

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