State of the Industry – November 2019 Wait Times
Ultimately, wait times are extremely unpredictable, but a few bits of information may offer insight into what a person’s wait time may be.
Capitol Armory receives hundreds of Form 4 approvals every week, arguably more than any other dealer in the United States. Because of this, we are able to analyze trends and monitor wait times. However, even with our large sample size, prediction of an approval timeframe is still nearly impossible.
Currently, the overwhelming majority of Form 4 submissions (both trust and individual) are being approved in 10 to 14 months. There are always outliers with shorter 3-month wait times or longer 2+ year wait times, but these are anomalies and represent a small percentage of forms submitted. Generally speaking, wait times longer than 14 months indicate a delay with the FBI background check, and a short 90-day approval is indicative of a spotless background or a form processed out of order.
When looking at trust vs. individual submissions, there is conflicting information as to which method takes longer. The simple answer is both will take the same amount of time if we factor in averages over a long period. At times, the ATF will focus on a specific type of transferee, so if trusts and individuals currently have the same wait time, it may not hold true in the future. If the ATF focuses on trusts, the wait time for those applications will drop. If they put trusts on the back burner, individual times will speed up. Because overall wait times are so lengthy, it’s nearly impossible to guess what the ATF will focus on in the future. By the time we recognize a certain trend, the ATF has likely switched their focus and it's too late to jump on the bandwagon with a new submission.
With the constant shifting of priorities at the ATF and varying approval timelines, one can only attempt to guess when a form may be approved, and even a highly educated guess will likely be incorrect.
Nearly everyone will agree on one thing though...no matter what the wait is, it's all worth it when you take your suppressor home. The NFA wait is best tolerated when you “submit it and forget it.”