As most of our customers know, we're big supporters of the ATF's new eForm system. It's a huge step forward in several ways - and brings the NFA Branch into the new millennium, with faster processing times and improved traceability of submissions. You can read more details about the advantages of eForms on this page.
Unfortunately, the government has had a bit of a bad track record with websites - so there have been some bumps in the road, and a lot of users are frustrated by the eForms experience.
Today, the NFA Branch came out with what they claim to be one cause for the slowdown in eForms - and it turns out that just about everybody is doing it...
The problem, supposedly, is when a user creates a single login account, and then has multiple users submitting forms simultaneously using the same account.
Before going into details, I should state that the ATF specifically said in their letter that: "Please understand that we are not asserting that the users of the “batch/multiple submission process” did anything wrong. Unfortunately, our system was not designed to handle batch processes which are causing unexpected problems for our system."
Example of the Problem
Let's say the owner of Leroy's Guns has 3 dedicated employees and one of them notices in the afternoon that eForms just happens to be up and running. Leroy immediately kicks all the customers out of the store and his 3 employees jump onto computers to submit forms using Leroy's account.
This actually works great, and Leroy is happy because all 3 of his employees get a form submitted before eForms goes down again; but, he is also apparently breaking eForms.
I know it's going to be hard to disseminate this information to everybody; but, if this really is the problem, then the solution is simple.
The next time eForms comes online, Leroy needs to have his employees get their own accounts. It's a very simple matter to set them up as submitters - which doesn't give them any access to his FFL information, but they will be able to submit forms for him when they have a chance. Since Leroy is the Super-User, he can always revoke access for that shady employee that nobody ever really liked anyway when he gets fired.
If you're an FFL/SOT and have any questions about how to do this - please let us know! For gun shop owners who are used to doing everything with the same account - trust me when I say it's more secure to keep your Super-User account to yourself.
What Silencer Shop is Doing
At Silencer Shop, we already use different accounts for all the employees; but, we did have a single submission account that we used to run multiple submissions at the same time. This essentially emulated what Leroy was doing in the example (although we were doing it in the middle of the night).
Now that the ATF has been clear about the issue, we've stopped that - in fact it only took a few minutes so I wish we'd known about this issue months ago.
We've also spent dozens of hours tuning and optimizing our network traffic to ensure we're causing absolutely as little load on the system as possible. In the end this helps everybody because no-one wants to go back to the previous 'paper-based' way of doing things. :)
If you are an FFL/SOT, you should also check out our Silencer Shop Direct program. Not only do we take care of all the details, including getting the paperwork together, reviewed, and submitted; but, we pay you for letting us do the work!
Silencer Shop Direct reduces the work of doing an NFA transfer down to no more than just filling out a Form 4473 and cashing a check - it couldn't be easier. Please let us know if you're interested and we're happy to help you get started.
At the end of the day, it's in everybody's best interest if eForms is successful (unless, of course, you're an anti-gun person - then you're on the wrong website).
Over time, I fully expect the eForms experience to improve; but, until then, we'll continue to do our part to be a good eForm citizen.