Gun Trusts were developed to make the purchase, ownership, and inheritance of firearms covered by the National Firearms Act (“NFA”) easier. The NFA regulates “Title II” weapons and includes machine guns, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, suppressors, destructive devices, and Any Other Weapons (AOWs).
Title II weapons can be acquired individually or through an entity such as a trust. Individuals must submit fingerprints, a photograph, pay for the $200 tax stamp, and obtain permission from the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) in the jurisdiction in which they reside. In some jurisdictions the sheriff will refuse to sign off on any such purchases as a matter of policy. Such blanket policies prevent law-abiding citizens from being able to obtain these weapons at all. Once approved, only the approved individual may hold or use the weapons. Violations can result in a 10-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.
By creating a firearms trust, some of these barriers to ownership can be surmounted. Trusts may legally own such firearms, and bypass requirements for a photograph, fingerprints, and the requirement that a CLEO approve the purchase of the regulated firearm or device. It also allows for multiple individuals to utilize the firearm.
Beyond acquisition, a Firearms Trust may have additional benefits—it is designed for the sole purpose of acquiring, holding, and eventually distributing regulated weapons, ammunition, and accessories. Firearms Trusts also help owners of weapons and devices regulated under the NFA from subjecting their family to “accidental felonies” upon their death. Although the owner may be registered to own such weapons, their family members or executors are not, and in most instances possession of these kinds of weapons without appropriate registration is a felony. A properly drafted Firearms Trust will allow the beneficiaries of the trust to receive the weapons and other items without unintentionally committing a felony. Because items contained within a trust avoid probate, the contents of the trust and how and to whom they are distributed will remain totally private.
Not Just for NFA Weapons
All firearms owners should consider establishing a Firearms Trust to hold their weapons collection, even if they don’t own any regulated weapons. Recently, Congress has taken up legislation to ban a wide variety of semi-automatic firearms. Some legislators and pundits have made no secret of their wish to confiscate all firearms and accessories, and barring that, to prohibit the transfer of any “grandfathered” weapons and to require any such weapons to be surrendered to the state at the current owner’s death.
Although the law of Firearms Trusts is still developing, it may be advisable to transfer non-regulated weapons into a trust prior to the enactment of any such legislation. This may avoid a scenario in which your family is forced to surrender your prized collection after you are gone. Proper planning can allow you to establish a legacy of responsible firearm ownership and use for generations to come.
An Important Part of a More Comprehensive Estate Plan
We offer two levels of Firearms Trust planning. The Silver Edition is the most popular option, and is designed for the firearms collector who understands the value of proper planning when dealing with NFA items (suppressors, etc.) as well as non-NFA items (regular rifles, pistols and shotguns), and it will protect everyone that may come in contact with the collection and to avoid the likelihood of an “accidental felony”. The Gold Edition is crafted to assist clients with extensive collections, specific firearms issues, or advanced planning needs.
If gun rights and owning guns are important to you, you know that owning a gun also carries the responsibility of knowing the law… so you can enjoy them and have Peace of Mind. This requires an understanding of the gun laws and how they affect you and your family. Owning guns can be a great experience when you know how to use them properly and you know what the laws are about how to handle them, use them, and transfer their ownership to others.
There are many complexities to gun law that most people don’t know about or understand. Unfortunately, the law is not very forgiving in this area and most violations carry felony charges. This makes understanding what you can and can’t do very important to give you peace of mind when owning one or many firearms. The primary purpose of my “Gun Law Practice” is to help those who have an interest, passion, and enthusiasm for owning guns do so in accordance to the law. I don’t expect you to know all of these nuances and issues…that’s what I specialize in to help my clients.
If you would like to learn more about these services, please feel free to give me a call and we can schedule a time to meet and talk further about what is involved in owning firearms responsibly. You can also read more about some of these areas on my site under the following areas:
If you ever have a question, please don’t hesitate to call and ask…it could keep you and your family safe and out of jail.