ATF’s New Rules For Registering Machine Guns And Other NFA Items Under Fire





” As part of the process to register an NFA item, ATF rules have long required individuals, but not legal entities, to obtain a “law enforcement certificate” from their Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO), such as a sheriff or police chief, to support their application. But ever since the Supreme Court in Printz v. United States, 521 US 898 (1997) held that CLEOs cannot be compelled by the federal government to perform federal functions like firearm background checks, most CLEOs now refuse to sign NFA item certificates.

  This year the ATF decided to act on “a petition for rulemaking, dated December 3, 2009, filed on behalf of the National Firearms Act Trade and Collectors Association (NFATCA)” which requested elimination of the CLEO certification requirement. The ATF responded to the NFATCA petition by not just rejecting the NFATCA’s proposal to eliminate the troublesome CLEO certifications required of individual NFA item registrants, but by extending these CLEO certification mandate to all “responsible persons” of legal entities (e.g., even a newborn baby who is one of several beneficiaries of an NFA item holding trust). “