In a notice earlier this month to the firearms industry, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it was temporarily suspending parts of its computerized system to shore up capacity in part to process the required registration and transfer of National Firearms Act covered weapons, which also include silencers, short-barreled shotguns, short-barreled rifles and some explosive devices.
Between 2005 and 2013, firearms act-related applications “skyrocketed by more than 380%” to nearly 200,000, according to the April 16 memo issued by ATF Deputy Assistant Director Marvin Richardson. The surge has contributed to a backlog of more than 70,000 applications.
Richardson’s memo states that the ATF is “immediately” hiring 15 people to assist with the application processing and deploying 15 current employees to the task.
The application deluge tracks a record annual increase in overall firearm production to more than 8.5 million guns in 2012, the most recent year for which the ATF collects such data. In 2011, there were 6.5 million firearms produced.
The increase was aided by a spike in the manufacture of rifles and pistols, continuing a trend that has been highlighted by industry representatives for the past several years.