The NFA Freedom Alliance has a very simple mission, to ease restrictions on the ownership, manufacture, sale and use of items regulated by the National Firearms Act.
Simple doesn’t mean easy, however. And considering this group is in its nascency with a long, tough road ahead, I figured the best thing to do to support the cause was to have a brief Q&A with the Chairman and Executive Director Todd J. Rathner and share it will all of you.
For reference, NFA items include machine guns, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, suppressors (or if you prefer, “silencers), and items defined by the ATF as “Any Other Weapons” or AOW.
Lastly, and for the record, we at GunsAmerica firmly believe NFA items should be made available to all law-abiding citizens without the current red tape that prevents and inhibits many from enjoying them.
S.H. Blannelberry: Where do we stand with respect to ATF 41P (the proposal to change how NFA items are transferred via trusts and corporations)?
Todd J. Rathner: Currently all information available is that some version of ATF 41P will be promulgated in January of 2015. The devil will be in the details of how it is drafted and how it will be enforced. For instance, how will minors who are beneficiaries be treated? Will they need CLEO (Chief Law Enforcement Officer) certification to remain a beneficiary? How will trustees on the same trust from different states be treated? This is not all just about CLEO certification, ATF41P is a bad deal no matter how it’s implemented. “Shall Certify” legislation is the only short term answer.
S.H. Blannelberry: “Shall Certify” is a great cause, but how realistic is it to think that all 50 states would at some point adopt shall certify legislation with respect to NFA items (I suppose the same could have been said with respect to CCW laws 30 years ago)?
Todd J. Rathner: Yes “Shall Issue” CCW is the perfect parallel. We believe that any state that has Shall Issue CCW is ripe for “Shall Certify” laws to be passed. It will be difficult, it will take time, but it can be done in the 40+ states that have real Shall Issue CCW. In the meantime we also need to work on other related issues at both the state and federal level.
For instance NFAFA has just announced that we have a bill sponsor in Texas to change the law relating to NFA items in Texas. Currently NFA items are illegal in Texas…YES…Illegal! You can be charged with possession of a “prohibited weapon” if you possesses any NFA item (see TPC 46.05 http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.46.htm)
Your only protection is that the law has a “defense to prosecution” built into it, which says if the NFA items are registered pursuant to the NFA then you may raise that as a defense at trial. The practical effect is that if you possess these items, and are charged with possession, it will cost you a lot of money and time to get your guns/silencers back! I have a gun dealer in San Antonio charged under this statute who was arrested for possessing a silencer. He fought it and it cost him $14,000 and 8 months to get his silencer back! The NFAFA is the only organization focused on fixing these so called DTP laws which exist in 5 states AK, OK, TN, TX, WA.
S.H. Blannelberry: Where do we currently stand with respect to “shall certify” around the country and are any states currently moving in that direction?
Todd J. Rathner: We currently have 7 states where “Shall Certify” is the law. I crafted, and pioneered this legislation in AZ, UT, and KS. Simultaneously the NRA got it passed in OK, and KY.
AK and TN already had it. There are currently many states where “Shall Certify” legislation will be introduced in the coming legislative session. We cannot name any states at the moment because of strategic reasons. You can keep up with where and when these bills are introduced by “LIKING” us on Facebook and by signing up for alerts on our website www.nfafa.org.
S.H. Blannelberry: What do you make of efforts by some attorneys to outright challenge the constitutionality of the NFA or specifically 18 USC sec 922(o)? While these lawsuits are well-intentioned, is there any chance that they’ll get serious consideration even with the short-lived approval of Form 1s?
Todd J. Rathner: As a lobbyist my first solution is always legislation because legislation is what I know. I do not trust the court system. Leaving our rights up to unelected federal judges makes me very uncomfortable. My strategy has always been “legislate not litigate”. I wish the folks behind this effort nothing but the best of luck, and hope they are successful.
S.H. Blannelberry: What’s your advice to folks who want NFA-regulated items but live in states where there is no shall certify legislation and an ornery CLEO that is unlikely to approve the transfer?
Todd J. Rathner: There are MANY great reasons to get a firearms trust set up, including avoiding the antiquated CLEO certification. Get a firearms trust NOW before ATF41P is promulgated.
S.H. Blannelberry: How is your relationship with the ATF? As a government agency, are they receptive to your cause?
Todd J. Rathner: I have met with some ATF officials on a number of occasions. We will be meeting with them again in the coming months. I think they will be receptive to some of our goals, and not so receptive to others. I expect to develop a professional relationship with the ATF that ONLY serves to benefit the NFA community.
S.H. Blannelberry: Overall, if you could, what else would you change about the process to obtain a NFA item?
Todd J. Rathner: If I could wave my magic wand I would repeal the NFA and the whole 1968 GCA. But short of that our goals are clearly outlined on our website. www.nfafa.org.
In order for the NFAFA to be successful we need owners, dealers and manufacturers to step up and give us the fuel to make it happen. We have the strategy, the plan, and the experience to get it done, we just need the financial support to make it happen!
The NFAFA is not a group started by collectors, the NFAFA was started by an experienced lobbyist who happens to be an NFA owner and enthusiast. We are a lobbying organization dedicated to getting results…period.
Here’s an interview Todd did with Tom Gresham, radio host of “Gun Talk.”