Guns and Wait Times

The MCRGO put out the following FAQ: I applied for a new concealed pistol license. The 45 day wait has passed. I haven’t received the card in mail. I’m guessing it’s due to COVID. May I use my receipt as my license until the card is mailed?

The answer: We are receiving a lot of questions recently related to late issued concealed pistol licenses. The answer to your question is found in MCL 28.425b.

I’ll save you the two paragraphs, but you are welcome to click the link to the statute, the answer is yes.

The receipt becomes the CPL in Michigan in conjunction with the state ID of the receipt holder. This persists until license is issued or the notice of statutory disqualification is issued.

This notice brings up an excellent point in the firearms supply line that is worth mentioning

The whole system is strained

Name a part of the firearm industry where there is currently a wait… scratch that, name a part of the industry where there currently isn’t a wait. I’ll wait…

Bad pun passed, the points of transfer are strained to their max right now and anywhere there is a legally mandated wait there is a tremendous backlog. CCW type applications, massive backlog. Wait times for state and local firearm purchases, huge backlogs. Anywhere that isn’t using the Brady dates for NICS transfers, you bet there is a backlog. And NFA transfers… I don’t want to know how far those are going to get behind.

For reference, I have waited up to 13 months for a standard Form 4 NFA transfer and that was not an unheard of wait time. My shortest was 6 months. I have seen as short as 4 and as great as 18 months. This is a bureaucratically imposed wait time, not a legally imposed one. Meaning there is no X number of days that you must wait to take possession of your item, it is just whenever the form is done at the ATF. Your Form 4 could clear in a few days worth of mail delay if the form was taken care of immediately and had no errors to correct. It might be done same day or next day if it was digital.

I have an SOT for my work here and one of the perks was going to be next day NFA transfers. Because Form 3’s are digitally available on the E-From website and both the transferee (me) and transferor (them) have SOT’d FFL’s there was no background check process. Just an inventory transfer that usually took 24-48 hours/1-2 business day’s, they don’t work on Wednesday’s IIRC.

That is right, Wednesday doesn’t count.

Current times are up to 15 Days. A 7x-14x increase. I cannot imagine how Form 4 wait times are going to jump. 7-14 times? Probably not, but expect several months added if you filed recently. Form 1’s are in the 2 month range, up from as low as a single week.

But… That means they can deny without ‘denying’ by just not getting to the paperwork.

Yes, bureaucracy is where the ‘Right Delayed is a Right Denied’ holds its entrenched position. All wait times are up. A 3 day wait may not have seemed much of an inconvenience but what about 3 weeks? Just for a backlog. This is a life saving defensive implement that you have a legal right to possess uninfringed.

Any transfer that does not have a legally mandated maximum time allotted for transfer, and an action/penalty for the government failing to meet its mandate, means that your transfer and acquisition of a firearm, ammunition, or license is at the whims of them completing their paperwork. At what time period does the bureaucratic backlog become a legally actionable infringement? That is very hard to say if it isn’t written.

Most of the governing offices have mandates that they must get to the paperwork, they cannot just arbitrarily toss it, but the mandate of getting to it in a timely manner is entirely up to the rulesets in place. Brady, for example, allows for a transfer after three business days, as written, and after the date issued by the FBI from NICS in practice. This is a maximum allotted time to complete a transfer process, imposed on the government, and the action after the allotted time is that the firearm transfer may proceed. An FFL can, at their discretion, wait longer for NICS but they are not required to do so under federal law. This is an example of an accountability stipulation, and one that works fairly well. The same stipulation falls apart without a time-out function.

Certain states have mandated FFL’s wait for NICS or the state equivalent organizations. Theses organizations, as far as I’m aware, do not impose a maximum time allotted, and thus remove the right of their legal applicants to an expedient legal service and deny them their second amendment right simultaneously. Government defining what are, and the people agreeing with, reasonable process times is paramount in regulation. There have to be written proceed rules if the government is too busy.

By mandating a legal form or forms be completed and processed by the government, but without mandating a legal time limit that the government can process these within, they set up the structure to put purchasers into a legal limbo (the plane, not the party game) where purchasers are subject to wait until the government ‘gets around to it.’ There is very limited recourse an individual can seek because the government has not violated their own rules in processing times as long as they are still “processing” it. This makes for a lengthy and expensive legal battle into suing the government to get to their job that they created, mandated, and then didn’t prioritize because of X, Y, or Z circumstance.

COVID is one such extremely straining and extremely serious circumstance that has been highlighting weaknesses in the system. The apparatus in place had minimal to no provisions for low staff, closed offices, remote processing, and complying with mandates that were crafted for times where everything was always working at normal capacity. If you need to get X form and go to Y place to have it filled out, all fine and good if Y is open to the public. What if it isn’t? You have defacto banned new gun owners and purchasers by closing a mandated link in the chain. If something is government mandated it is an essential service it cannot close.

Unfortunately this is just more of the same when it comes to the 2A being a second class right, not granted the same weight as other constitutional protections. Anything they can reasonably dismiss as unimportant or ‘non-mandatory’ would be until they were legally challenged. We saw this in the ‘Essential Business’ fight and we are seeing it still with overwhelmed and backlogged systems.

Backlogs happen, but without a legal time-out function there is minimal pressure to correct the backlog. The government doesn’t get in trouble for not following their own mandated paperwork rules if there is no written provision for it. Only you, the individual following the rule, are left hanging in the wind.

In Conclusion

Wait times are bullshit.

Wait times with no time-out mandate are an extra special level of bullshit.

We must put pressure on our local, state, and federal rule-makers to include maximum allotted time provisions in any mandatory paperwork and encourage them to remove as much mandatory paperwork as possible to ease both their time requirements and the waiting burden of the citizen.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.