I have talked before about how important it is to not only know what guns are in your collection but where they came from and if they qualify as an NFA firearm or other type of firearm. Not knowing what is in your collection may seem odd, but is actually quite common when you inherit things from your relatives…especially firearms. Here is an interesting case in point where actual cases are more interesting than just an example…
I found an interesting article, “Law-abiding Aberdeen pensioner faces jail after guns found in basement,” that was a good example of how this could happen to anyone and why it makes sense to know what is yours and what you have. Richard Watt, a 76 year old man, faces 5 years in jail because of certain firearms he has in his possession, including a sawed off shotgun. While this wasn’t in the U.S., the message is still very relevant and something everyone should think about.
Watt was a gun enthusiast and had several firearms that weren’t your average guns. Upon further examination he was told that the court hasn’t much choice in these matters and there is a high likelihood he could spend his ripe old years behind bars.
I see and hear about these types of cases all the time. This is one of the primary reasons “Gun Trusts” were created and are used very actively today…to protect those that own firearms and those who receive firearms from others, such as relatives. I happen to use the preeminent software system, GunDocx®, to help me construct the right trust for my gun owner clients. This allows me to put together exactly the right package for the right situation.
I find situations like that of Mr. Watt regularly. Usually it is because someone has inherited or been given firearms from another family member…often in another state. Since most gun owners are not as familiar with the laws of “possession and transfer,” these firearms get moved or stored illegally. While the authorities don’t find out all the time, when they do, these types of issues are potential felonies that carry significant jail time, just like was the case for Richard Watt.
Gun Trusts go a long way to helping individuals and families plan for and take care of their firearms so they don’t create what we call the “Accidental Felony” of owning or transferring specific firearms. If anyone you know has firearms, they should at least find out if a Gun Trust is needed…before it’s too late and the authorities show up at the door with handcuffs in hand. This is one of the best uses of the popular phrase, “Better to be Safe than Sorry.”