NFA: NFRTR challenged
News release here.
Background: the National Firearms Act of 1934 requires tax payment, and thus registration, of full autos, short barreled firearms, etc. In any NFA prosecution, the government must prove the gun is unregistered and that the tax wasn't paid on the transfer to the current possessor. To do that, it produces a certificate or testimony from the people who keep the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.
It's pretty clear that the NFRTR has big problems, the only question is how big. For its first half century, it was simply a gigantic collection of paper files, rising to a hundred thousand or so, with great opportunity for someone checking out a file, or a document, and losing it. Even after they automated it, there was opportunity for typing in the wrong serial number, etc.. A few years ago a video of a HQ ATF fellow got loose, with him saying they'd always testify that the record was 100% accurate, tho they knew that wasn't the case. Think he said older entries had a 50% error rate and newer ones had gotten than down to 10%.
UPDATE: here's the video. As I recall, YouTube wasn't around back then, or at least not popular.
This was known to be a big problem as early as the 1980s, when there were internal studies and internal memos documenting it as a serious problem.
Hat tip to Say Uncle.