It’s amazing what people hold on to that gets forgotten about or overlooked. While in most situations it is not a big deal – but when it comes to firearms, it could be a FELONY.
Take for example the situation where a machine gun appears in an estate (or any other contraband or illegal firearm). It was always there… carefully stored and even ignored for many decades. A family member comes into possession and alarms go off… is this a problem? Am I in trouble? WHAT do I DO?
Okay, deep breath time. Yes, an unregistered NFA firearm such as a machine gun never listed in the federal register may be a “felony in motion.” If not previously registered, you cannot now simply register it. One issue is that you do not know the status of the firearm. If you are the family member, you should talk to a gun law attorney or an attorney who knows firearms issues before you do ANYTHING.
Here are some thoughts for you to consider if this might be the case:
- The firearm MAY be contraband. If so and you “know” this… you could face prosecution if you do not handle things correctly.
- Keep EVERY firearm under lock and key if you are responsible until you have a game plan.
- For NFA firearms, the registration of the firearm must be safely determined.
- Even if not registered, there are some things that can be done:
- By following certain exact procedures, some firearms of historic value could be gifted to a qualifying museum… i.e. a federal museum.
- By following certain exact procedures, a law enforcement agency may accept the firearm for its use.
- Otherwise, a contraband NFA firearm must be processed with great care. In most cases a procedure is worked out with ATF or other law enforcement to surrender possession, usually by having an Agent or officer come to the firearm and take it into custody. Remember, transporting an illegal firearm, contraband, raises risk.
Most gun-oriented families want to retain ownership of a loved one’s firearms. That is a good thing. But as you can see, care needs to be taken to make sure that a felony is not part of the inheritance. Enjoy the souvenirs – just don’t do it from behind bars!