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What’s up with eForms?

logo_eForms-150x135As 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. :) ssd_blkIf 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.

3 responses to “What’s up with eForms?”

  1. Arturo says:

    You guys are awesome!

  2. Nope says:

    Your example is very misleading. The ATF says that the system was designed for the forms to be entered one at a time. In your example that is exactly what is happening. The ATF doesn’t say there is anything wrong with multiple people entering forms on the same or different accounts. It also doesn’t say that a single user cannot enter multiple forms in separate windows.
    The ATF release says “the eForms system is NOT designed to accept batch uploads. We have noted that several of our registered eForms users have designed and use a “batch/multiple submission process” that we have determined has been contributing to the problems that eForms is experiencing. ATF did NOT grant these users any authorization to use this process. eForms was designed to work as a serial application, with each user making one submission at a time. The “batch/multiple submission processes” are creating a situation where processes are initiated and not completed within the eForms application. This is causing “memory allocation errors” within the eForms application.”
    They go on to say “we are requesting that any registered eForms user who is currently using any “batch/multiple submission process” discontinue the use of any such process IMMEDIATELY. Any user who continues to use a “batch/multiple submission process” for eForms, after the dissemination of this message will have his/her access to the eForms system suspended or revoked.”
    Your batch uploads did cause problems with the system. Please stop trying to skew the issue.

    • Dave says:

      Do you seriously believe that we uploaded enough forms to single-handedly crash eForms? That’s kind of like saying the hospitals are responsible for crashing ObamaCare – because they just had too many sick patients. 🙂

      We are one of the largest single submitters of NFA forms in the United States – and we have invested a lot of time and energy to make sure our system is as efficient as possible. We also work very closely with the NFA Branch to be sure we’re doing everything the correct way.

      You’re quick to pull out pieces of that ATF letter; but, let me fill in a couple of gaps:

      1) We submitted all our forms in the middle of the night, and the system was rebooted every morning; so, although we do submit a lot of forms, it should have no impact on their system during the day. I could make a very strong argument that we actually helped the overall performance by keeping a lot of form submissions out of the system during peek hours – which was our intention.
      2) Our system was completely offline as we performed a database upgrade for almost half a week – and I didn’t see any mention of miraculous improvements in eForms performance. 🙂
      3) The letter you are referencing stated “eForms was designed to work as a serial application, with each user making one submission at a time.”. This is what they are referring to as a “Batch Upload” – where a single user is submitting more than one application at the same time, which is what a LOT of people are doing (You are probably doing it too…). Even though we submit a lot of applications at night – the cumulative effect of everybody doing the same thing during the day is causing some pretty serious performance degradation.
      4) The letter also stated explicitly: “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.”.
      5) Our eForms accounts were never suspended or deactivated in any way after this was sent out.

      I understand, based on the tone of the comment, that nothing I say is likely to sway your opinion. Just keep in mind that we’re a private business doing the best we can with the information we have. I believe eForms is a huge improvement over the previous paper system, and we’re investing serious resources to make sure this system is successful and usable for everybody.

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