The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) recently completed its eRegulations project, an electronic research tool of tremendous value for members of the firearms and explosives industries. The eRegulations page, available at https://regulations.atf.gov/, provides a wealth of information on regulations implementing the federal firearms and explosives laws, including the Arms Export Control Act, Gun Control Act, National Firearms Act, and federal explosives laws.
The eRegulations project is the brainchild of Andrew Lange, the Chief of ATF’s Office of Regulatory Affairs. Mr. Lange is trained as a lawyer and recognized the importance of an online source of information that links the law, regulations, ATF rulings, and other research materials all in one place. In 2015 Mr. Lange obtained funding for eRegulations and partnered with ATF’s Digital Media Division to begin. ATF personnel obtained assistance with technical aspects of the project from Technology Transformation Services, part of the General Services Administration (GSA). By September 2015 the framework for eRegulations was completed with the text of all the ATF regulations online. As more funding became available additional content was added to the site. By the summer of 2017 the last of the related documents were uploaded.
Using the eRegulations portal is a snap. The opening page lists Parts 447, 478, 479, 555, and 646 of the regulations in Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Clicking on one of the Parts brings up a complete list of the regulations on the left side of the screen and the law from which the regulations are derived on the right. Clicking on the law takes you to the full text of the statute, and clicking on a particular regulation brings up its full text. Defined terms in the regulation are underlined, and clicking on the term brings up its definition on the right side of the screen. If you wish to search for a particular term in the regulations there is a magnifying glass icon to perform that function. Users may also view previous versions of the regulations and compare regulatory language by clicking on the “regulation timeline” icon.
The most useful aspect of the tool is the related materials listed on the right side of the screen for each regulation. Related documents include ATF rulings, Open Letters, Industry Circulars, and other ATF guidance documents. For example, clicking on 27 C.F.R. § 478.11 (definition of terms from the Gun Control Act) shows 20 ATF rulings, 6 Open Letters, 2 guides (generally information from other ATF publications or the website), and 8 FFL Newsletters. Each of these documents can be accessed with a click.
ATF officials have made a commitment to keep eRegulations up-to-date as new regulations, rulings and other guidance documents are issued. The agency is to be commended for creating this comprehensive and easy-to-use system and making it available free of charge to industry members. Federal firearms licensees, federal explosives licensees/permittees, and experts who support them should always start their research at ATF’s eRegulations site.
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