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Dem Conspiracy or Technical Glitch? While ATF eForms Remains Down Theories Swirl

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Maybe from a lifetime of being under siege, most gun guys love a good conspiracy theory and will even go as far as suggesting conspiracies are behind most of what gets jacked up in this country. (I for one admit I do seriously believe the kill shot on JFK 100 percent came from that grassy knoll.) Well, this week offered one that is still ongoing, depending on what you want to believe.

When the ATF’s eForms website, a site that allows ATF forms to be filed electronically rather than with paper to speed processes up, went down, it set the talking aheads into a frenzy with Breaking News alerts on their YouTube channels. At the very least, they are making the most of the clickbait opportunity by suggesting they all knew it was going to happen before it happened (though they couldn’t say anything at the time) and they have lots of sources telling them what’s really going on behind the scenes (though they can’t name any of them or prove anything right now…but they will, they promise, maybe. It will all come out, maybe.)

John Crump News and Jared Yanis with Guns & Gadgets were quick to put out videos with Yanis at least citing Crump as one of the people who informed him the closure was about to go down and then spending the next four minutes saying he knows more than he can say right now. Several message boards have had posts with theories more scattered than a target grouping shot by Barney Fife.

Both YouTubers said the site went down at the time they were told it was going to go down—at 3 p.m. yesterday—though the ATF eForm site says it went down at 11:58 the evening before.

Who to believe? Well, we can’t trust the government, because they lie, right? And Yanis and Crump can be rolling off bad info from faulty sources, but maybe not. I’d honestly believe both of them before I’d believe the gov. But in the end, you’re only as good as the information you receive. Either way the theories are flying and they’re making the most of covering them all in their vids (just like we are here!)

Here are the current top of line theories being floated out there:

  • It’s budgetary. Despite the government averted shutdown, purse strings have tightened so the ATF had to shut it down to save money.
  • It was running too well, so it had to be shut down because the antis in leadership positions there don’t want anything that benefits gun companies and gun owners to work as it should. In the days prior to the site going down, the forms were being processed more quickly (though the Crump team suggested that was just because they knew it was about to be shut down so they were trying to clear out a backlog…maybe.)
  • It’s a leap year thing (similar to Y2K fears 24 years ago) and the site went down because the backend was thrown off by the extra day. (That seems absurd but isn’t totally improbable. I worked for a tech company whose software-as-a-service glitched like clockwork, twice a year, when daylight savings time started and ended, because the time change threw the system off.)
  • It’s shut down indefinitely and may never come back up. Highly unlikely, but that’s another theory getting serious traction out there.
  • It’s a precursor to a ground invasion from China, who hacked into the site to shut it down and stymie the flow of firearms into American hands. (Ok, not really, I totally made that one up. But the first four are all being floated on message boards and social media right now.)

One source on a Reddit ATF eForms Megathread (that sounds important and serious) had this message:

The ATF eForms site has been down for a couple of days now. The outage appears to be due to a technical issue, and the current message on the site indicates they hope to have everything back online soon.

While the front page is down, the back end of the system is working. Multiple people have reported stamp approvals being received during the outage.

There is no evidence to support claims from clickbait YouTube videos that the ATF plans to get rid of eForms. There is also no solid information to indicate it’s related to budget, etc. …

The thread sounds authoritative enough, but heck, who really is Hollywood SX who moderates the thread? He or she could be a true in-the-know gun person, they could be a closet anti-gunner bent on placating the gun owning masses during this afront to our freedoms or they could even be an ATF overlord with a direct phone line to Jill Biden’s Oval Office, um, we mean Joe’s.

Anyway, we seriously tried calling the ATF ourselves and after spending close to an hour on hold, our publisher was told they do not have any information on the outage, and they do not have any prior info on the status of prior or currently pending forms. Check back to the site frequently for when it comes back up, they said.

Again, I’m just speculating as well here, we’re no better than the rest of the talking heads, but when I worked for the tech company and had to call customers when there was an outage, a lot of times, I honestly had no darn idea when the system was going to be back up either. Sometimes neither did the techs. Truth is, crap sometimes just breaks, especially complicated technology. Just sayin…

The message on the eForms website says:

If you use eForms to file the ATF Form 2 pursuant to 27 CFR 479.103, you will be permitted to submit the ATF Form 2 by the close of the next business day after the eForms system is back online. This delay in submitting your required ATF Form 2 is only applicable for this outage that began at 2358 on February 27, 2024. You should check periodically if eForms is back online.

While you may submit a paper application, you are encouraged to wait until the eForms system is back online.

So, the truth is, no one knows the truth. Maybe we can’t handle the truth, because the truth may just be a legitimate technical glitch, not some juicy conspiracy theory in which the shutdown was preordained by the Illuminati.

Only time—and patience—will tell.

Here are both Crump’s and Yanis’ videos. We appreciate them letting us have a little fun and thank them for all they do to keep the gun community informed. Check them out if you don’t regularly follow them.

John Crump News

Guns & Gadgets

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