We often get asked questions about how and if a Gun Trust or another type of trust can own or obtain an FFL or C&R license.  A Trust is not a person under the GCA of 1968 and as such a Trust may not apply for or receive an FFL or C&R license.  That being said, a Trust may be the owner of a Corporation or LLC that holds an FFL.  That is the Stock of a Corporation can be owned by a trust or the membership interest in an LLC can be owned by a Trust.

In addition, some firearms manufacturers have used trusts to help permit individuals who may not be W2 employees to be in possession of certain items that they might not be able to be in possession of otherwise.  For example a suppressor manufacture may have independent sales reps that would not normally be able to be in possession of the suppressors.

 

On March 23rd, Ohio repealed the prohibition on the use of legally possessed suppressors while hunting.  Ohio has become the 35th state to permit hunters to use legally possessed suppressors while hunting.  IN 2014 Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana all enacted legislation to permit the use of suppressors while hunting.  Ohio also enacted Shall Sign legislation.

Among the many benefits, to using suppressors are:

  1. HEARING PROTECTION: Noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus are two of the most common afflictions for recreational shooters and hunters. Everyone knows that gunfire is loud, but very few people understand the repercussions that shooting can have on their hearing until it’s too late. Suppressors reduce the noise of a gunshot by an average of 20 – 35 dB, which is roughly the same as earplugs or earmuffs. By decreasing the overall sound signature, suppressors help to preserve the hearing of recreational shooters, hunters, and hunting dogs around the world.
  2. SAFER HUNTING: Most hunters do not wear not wear hearing protection in the field because they want to hear their surroundings. The trouble is, exposure to even a single unsuppressed gunshot can, and often does, lead to permanent hearing damage. Suppressors allow hunters to maintain full situational awareness, while still protecting their hearing. The result is a safer hunting experience for the hunter, and for those nearby.
  3. NOISE COMPLAINTS: As urban developments advance into rural areas, shooting ranges and hunting preserves across the country are being closed due to noise complaints. Although it can still be heard, suppressed gunfire helps mitigate noise complaints from those who live near shooting ranges and hunting land.
  4. ACCURACY: Suppressors reduce recoil, and help decrease muzzle flinch. These benefits lead to improved accuracy, better shot placement, and more humane hunts.

Most agree that the use of a Gun Trust is the best way to own a suppressor because of the ability to protect family and friends from issues of accidental and constructive possession. To find out more about the benefits of a gun trust use the form on this page to request information.

ATF has a history of approving Form 4 transfers to invalid trusts.  Today,  I received another example of an invalid trust that ATF had already approved a transfer for a suppressor.  As more people are learning about gun trust we are seeing more poorly written and in some cases invalid gun trusts.

Most invalid trusts are invalid because they do not name a beneficiary or someone lists themselves as the beneficiary. With the trust we received today, the trust did not meet the minimum signing requirements for the state where it was created.

I recently purchased a trust from a major suppressor manufacture, that had the same problem and while I live in Florida, the trust that was created online would would not be valid in Florida.  In addition, I made a typographical error entering the information and my repeated attempts to contact the company to fix the issue have been ignored.  For a company who prides themselves on customer service, this has been disappointing.   For the time being we would warn people to stay away from “easytrust” which is being advertised by a suppressor manufacture.  The trust  has many of the  problems associated with traditional trusts that can create liability for the trustees and beneficiaries of a poorly written gun trust and the one I received would not be valid in my state unlike their claims.

While talking with the client of the invalid trust, it turned out that he  had received the trust from a friend of his who told him it was prepared by a lawyer.  It would appear that the trust was not prepared by a licensed attorney or the lawyer was not familiar with trust law, gun law, or both.  A Gun Trust is very different than a revocable trust and one needs to consider each and every power and instruction in a trust and how they will interact with firearms owners and their desires to draft a well written gun trust.

With many online gun trusts popping up it is important to realize that a trust is not valid, nor is possession legal, just because the ATF approves a transfer.  If you have an invalid trust and are in possession of a firearm restricted by the NFA, you in violation of the NFA and could face both civil and criminal penalties.

A few benefits of a properly drafted Gun Trust include:

  1. The ability to tell your representatives how to properly transfer these firearms upon your death regardless of the state that they live in;
  2. The ability to move states and maintain a trust that is easily recognized as valid in other states;
  3. The ability to deal with co-trustees and beneficiaries in multiple states;
  4. The ability for your minor children to use the NFA firearms with adult supervision and parental consent;
  5. The ability to transfer assets to children, even below the age of 18, when they reach an appropriate age, while giving the someone the ability to make distribution decisions based on mental state,  physical location, legality of the transfer, and age;
  6. The ability to make unequal distributions so that firearms do not have to be liquidated to give equal distributions;
  7. The ability of the Trustee to refuse assets transferred by will or other means when  the NFA and state requirements are not complied with; Continue reading

What’s the Story Behind ATF “Banning” 5.56mm Ammo? (. . . and what can you do about it?)

By Glenn D. Bellamy, Armorer-at-Law®
March 5, 2015

There’s been no shortage of misinformation and hyperbole about an ATF memo released on February 13th reported to “ban AR15 ammo.”  The memo describes a “framework” by which ATF proposes it would consider requests for “sporting purpose” exemptions under the federal statute banning the manufacture, importation or sale (but not possession) of “armor piercing” projectiles.  I’ve searched and research the law and the facts behind it with passion over the last two weeks. I’m tempted to write a legal brief in opposition, or at least to give it a thorough fisking.  But that would bore you and be wasted on the ATF at this point.

Instead, I’ll give you the skinny on what’s going on and the most effective thing(s) you can do about it.

The Skinny

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Today, the ATF stated that the time to process paper Form 1 and Form 4s – 6 months. Our feeling is that the backlog for paper forms is closer to 4 months when you consider that the eForms are only taking around 30 days and make up a substantial portion of the filings.

The ATF is continuing to hire more help, cross train more staff, and process more forms than they receive. In the last 11 months the ATF has reduced the backlog from 81,000 in Feb 2014 to 38,000 as of Jan 15, 2015.

There is still no update on eFiling of ATF Form 4, but hope to have it addressed by late 2015.
For those with Gun Trusts, there is a new update to the eForms 101 as of Jan 15, 2015.

The link to the update can be found here.
eFormsNews 1-15-15.pdf

In Florida, it is illegal for an individual to be on probation to own, possess, or use a firearm without permission of a Judge and his or her probation officer. While initially, this may sound reasonable because in our minds we tend to associate probation with criminals and felons, many of us do not realize that this also applies to those on probation for misdemeanor and driving offenses. Still don’t see a problem? What about a DUI or reckless driving charge? Did you know that you or your spouse could go to jail for owning, using, possessing, or having access to a firearm while on probation for a driving charge?

Most Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyers may not know to ask their clients about firearms in these circumstances and may be advising their clients incorrectly when charged with a DUI or reckless driving charge. A Gun Trust can be designed to manage your firearms without risk of loss and criminal prosecution while an individual or family member is on probation.

If you live in another state, you may check to see if the terms of probation include restrictions on ownership, transfer, possession, and use of firearms or weapons.

The best time to do this transfer is before your probation states. In most cases, it is not illegal to be in possession or transfer the firearms correctly while charged, but you should contact a Gun Trust Lawyer®, create a gun trust, and transfer your firearms into the Gun trust prior to probation.

While some may consider just lending their guns to others during probation, this will not solve your problem as you still own them and could be considered to have constructive possession over the firearms.

If you own Title II firearms, this may not be possible if you purchased them as an individual as a personal transfer can take 6 months or more to complete.

Here is the latest letter from the ATF that we received at 4:36 PM EST today regarding the SB-15 and Stabilizing braces. It seems to deal with “intent” but also introduces a new concept of “redesign” in an attempt to bolster the concept that use of a firearm can change the classification of it.

Our recommendation remains the same, for a $200 tax stamp why take the legal and financial risk.

The Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has received inquiries from the public concerning the proper use of devices recently marketed as “stabilizing braces.” These devices are described as “a shooter’s aid that is designed to improve the single-handed shooting performance of buffer tube equipped pistols.” The device claims to enhance accuracy and reduce felt recoil when using an AR-style pistol.

These items are intended to improve accuracy by using the operator’s forearm to provide stable support for the AR-type pistol. ATF has previously determined that attaching the brace to a firearm does not alter the classification of the firearm or subject the firearm to National Firearms Act (NFA) control. However, this classification is based upon the use of the device as designed. When the device is redesigned for use as a shoulder stock on a handgun with a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length, the firearm is properly classified as a firearm under the NFA.

The NFA, 26 USCS § 5845, defines “firearm,” in relevant part, as “a shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length” and “a rifle having a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length.” That section defines both “rifle” and “shotgun” as “a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder….” (Emphasis added).

Pursuant to the plain language of the statute, ATF and its predecessor agency have long held that a pistol with a barrel less than 16 inches in length and an attached shoulder stock is a NFA “firearm.” For example, inRevenue Ruling 61-45, Luger and Mauser pistols “having a barrel of less than 16 inches in length with an attachable shoulder stock affixed” were each classified as a “short barrel rifle…within the purview of the National Firearms Act.”
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Thumbnail image for sig_arm_brace_sb15.jpgWe are all familiar with the inconsistency of the ATF. The ATF has changed their position on the Sib Brace (SB-15) with a pistol. While the ATF, still states that it is legal to use the SB-15 as intended (strapped to your wrist), they have reversed their position on using the SB-15 when shouldered.

You may remember that earlier this year, ATF stated that since the SB-15 is not intended to be fired from the shoulder, the misuse of an individual would not change the classification of the firearm. See the March ATF SB-15 letter

We believe that this is the correct decision and interpretation. The problem is that someone else recently asked the same question and got a very different answer. ATF has now stated that the misuse of the SB-15 (being fired from the shoulder) does create an SBR and make the pistol subject to the NFA.

sig brace letter 01.jpg
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In 90 days, it will be legal to hunt with Suppressors in Ohio. On Friday, December 19th Gov. John Kasich signed a massive overhaul of Ohio’s Gun Law including removing the restriction for hunting with a suppressor (sometimes called a silencer). This follows the recent legalization of hunting with Suppressors in Florida. A vast majority of states now permits hunting with suppressors.

Also signed was legislation to require CLEOs to sign Form 4s and Form 1s.

The “shall certify” provision which requires a chief law enforcement officer (CLEO) to sign off on an application to transfer an item regulated by the National Firearms Act, once the application procedure and requirements are met. This provision eliminates personal bias towards NFA-related items, requiring CLEOs to sign off and process the application in the same way they do a concealed handgun license.

While many feel shall certify legislation is a good thing, the risk is that people will purchase items as an individual and not use a Gun Trust from a Gun Trust Lawyer®. There are many advantages to purchasing NFA firearms using a Gun Trust, including the ability to protect innocent spouses and others from charges of constructive possession or illegal transfers under the NFA. There are many advantages to using a Gun Trust over individual ownership. For a list of these advantages, request our free report on what is a Gun Trust and Why you should have one by completing the form on this page for more information.

North Carolina NFA Trust and Gun Trust Update:

In Dec 2014, a Gun Trust transfer of a Machine Gun was rejected by the ATF when it stated “In Accordance with NC General Statute 14-409. Please remember that your Form 4 must state a reason other than for scientific and/or experimentation or “in accordance with 14-409″ to comply with The January 11, 2013 email from Dana Pickles. We are in the process of verifying this and will update this blog if anything changes.

A recent email from Dana Pickles at the US Dept. Of Justice Bureau of ATF NFA Branch stated the following changes for North Carolina
Effective January 11 2013 the ATF is handling North Carolina transfers as follows:

Machine Gun transfers from a dealer to a dealer on a Form 3 no longer require a North Carolina Sheriff permission letter to possess the Machine Gun (MG)

From a Dealer to a Gun Trust using a Form 4.
If the Form 4 states that the MG is being “acquired for scientific research and/or experimentation” or “in accordance with 14-409″, then you will still need North Carolina Sheriff permission letter to possess Machine Gun.

But, If the reason on your Form 4 states a reason OTHER than “in accordance with 14-409″ or “for scientific and/or experimental use” then the North Carolina Machine Gun Letter or permission from the Sheriff is not required.

This means you should not state “in accordance with 14-409″ or “for scientific and/or experimental use” on a Machine Gun transfer in the state of North Carolina
All other NFA transfers on a Form 4 – no longer require the reason to state “In accordance with 14-288.8″ to approve the transfer.

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