While the comment period for this ended on December 9, 2013, the proposed rule is not set to go into effect until around June 2014. This may seem like it is far away but keep in mind that the date could be much sooner. If there is another incident involving gun violence, rest assured this date may be moved up quickly to capitalize on it. For this reason, if you have been considering an NFA gun trust I encourage you do begin the process immediately before any proposed changes go into effect. The current turn around time at the office is usually 48 hours from the time of submission to having the document ready to be signed or sent out.
I will be sending out a letter to all my current NFA clients in mid-January detailing the effects the law may have on the trusts and what to be prepared for. However, I think it is useful to keep in mind that the most cumbersome effect the proposed change will have is a potential freeze to NFA purchases as a result of the CLEO requirement. The Chief Law Enforcement Offficer (CLEO) part of the process requires that a CLEO sign off stating that you are fit and able to obtain the NFA item you have requested. This is from a by-gone era before the digital age when local law enforcement had the best and most updated information on whether you were a known prohibited person that the federal government may not know. In our real-time digital age, the NICS database is more than capable of making this determination, it is unfortunate that the CLEO requirement remains. It is cumbersome and confusing for many law enforcement officers to need to fill out this form when they have often had no interaction with the person requesting the NFA items. For most CLEO's they either do not want the responsibility of filling out this form, do not wish to be 'liable' for the information contained on the form or, in some cases, otherwise are opposed to NFA ownership in their area for any reason.
It should be noted that I have met a few CLEO's who are ardent supporters of the second amendment, own NFA items themselves, are great patriots and sportsmen and will sign the NFA forms when they receive them if they have no reason to not sign them. These individuals are far and few between, especially in more urban areas like those surrounding Pittsburgh.
A secondary unanswered question is which CLEO can and should sign the NFA form? Is it the local law enforcement officer or the county CLEO? This should be answered in June or sooner when the rule is published but remains a point of confusion for many wishing to obtain an NFA item.
What I encourage all of my clients and those Pennsylvania Residents to do is call their state representatives and push for Pennsylvania to amend its rules on the CLEO requirement to be a "shall issue" state. What this would mean is that each CLEO is required to sign off on NFA transfers unless they have a legitimate reason not to. I would also recommend a time limit to sign off on the forms to ensure that they are done in an efficient manner so that the NFA transfer can be processed as quickly as possible.
To this end I include the following:
Use this link to find your PA legislators for your district: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/
Use this link to find your federal legislators: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml
I will be working with local, regional and national groups and associations in the coming months to attempt to make this change nation-wide. Please feel free to call me at the office or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for updated information or to begin the trust process. I will be working to formulate a form letter to be signed and mailed to each representative.
As an aside, as I post this we are very close to the holiday. I hope that everyone has a healthy, happy and enjoyable time with friends and family.