AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker

Have you ever used an accountant or tax preparer to fill out your 1040 form? You know, they do all the work and when it’s ready, all you have to do is open a vein and give the government its share of your income every year. You sign the form, write a check, and mail it off. Simple.

You can’t do that with ATF eForm 1’s. At least, you can’t as of about June of this year. It’s back to manually submitting them with third parties or attempting to figure it all out on your own. Because…government.

Prior to that, a third party could help you fill out an electronic Form 1 using the ATF’s eForms system or paper forms. The ATF, of course, wouldn’t allow electronic signatures such as Docusign to be used for electronic forms. Never mind that there are millions of Americans who use electronic signatures with all sorts of government agencies for important documents such as mortgages, contracts, et cetera every single day. That’s far too efficient and just won’t do for the federal gun regulators.

build your own suppressor silencer form 1

Yes, it’s legal to build your own silencer as long as you file a Form 1 first. (Jeremy S. for TTAG)

Still, things got done, with third parties making life (not easy, but) easier on law-abiding Americans who wish to build suppressors, short barrel rifles (SBRs), or short barrel shotguns (SBSs). Retailers and the industry try to work with the ATF to provide guidance on how to streamline the process. Unfortunately, the ATF did what it is they do.

In what is becoming a trend, the ATF did a 180 and jerked the industry around with another arbitrary, unexplained edict. Over the summer, the ATF decided that getting help with your electronic Form 1 is now verboten. Instead, if you want to make your own suppressor, SBR, or SBS you’re left to your own devices and confusion. And the seller, who’s experienced in navigating ATF Form paperwork, can’t legally assist you any more.

CMMG Banshee SBR

CMMG Banshee SBR (courtesy CMMG)

Instead, you’re now required to fill out your own documents, sign them, and send them in.

Don’t like it? Too bad. And if you make a mistake, you’ll get your form back, and have to start the entire ridiculous process all over again.

That’s why about 110 members of Congress sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday asking him to step in and push the ATF to get its act together.

We talked to Silencer Shop’s owner Dave Matheny about all of this yesterday. Silencer Shop is the largest NFA dealer in the country.

Dave tells us that Silencer Shop had been doing business under the ATF’s previous eForm 1 guidance issued a couple of years ago. Guidance that allowed third party processors, like Silencer Shop, to fill out an eFile Form 1 for their customers, making the process more efficient for everyone involved.

It should also be noted that this makes the ATF’s job easier, too, with fewer mistakes and a more streamlined process. All the customer has to do is sign the document.

Then, in June, the ATF did an about-face with no explanation. The ATF let it be known that buyers getting help from a third party electronically is no longer allowed. That threw a monkey wrench into the process and made submitting Form 1’s purely manual and more onerous for the buyer.

What’s the logic behind this? No one knows, and the ATF has never been interested in explaining the reasons behind its edicts.

Navigating the ATF’s Form 1 process is an arduous endeavor, to say the least. In other words, it’s a pain in the ass. A pain their eForms system was designed to alleviate (and was intended to rocket the agency into cutting edge 1990s technological sophistication).

But now, in effect, they’re telling anyone who wants to build their own NFA-regulated item, they have to go back to paper only and do it with companies like Silencer Shop.

It’s stupid. It’s inefficient. It’s the ATF.

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