As a gun trust attorney it is my duty to keep up with the latest gun laws throughout the country and clients are often surprised how different the laws can vary state to state. I was recently asked by a client if someone with a valid CWL license is allowed to carry a gun inside a Florida Hospital and thought I would share my thoughts on the issue. Continue reading
With the recent church shooting in Charleston, our office has received many questions asking if it is legal to carry a concealed weapon to church with a CWL, or concealed weapons license. Currently, there are no laws in Florida that forbid carrying a concealed weapon inside or on the grounds of a religious institution except in portions which may constitute a church school.
Studies have shown that mass murders often pick places to attack where the attacker believes they cannot be attacked in retaliation. These “Gun Free Zones” are usually churches, schools, and former places of employment. The next question then becomes can a church hire armed security guards to defend against the crazy shooters?
Each state has their own rules regarding when guns may be brought and you should investigate them.
We have been telling people for years that a properly drafted gun trust can help protect your firearms in the event that you become a prohibited person in the future. Today the Supreme Court came to a Unanimous Decisions supporting our view that a trust can be used to hold firearms for a liquidating event or for the future beneficiaries of the trust without being lost.
The court held that “while a convicted felon is prohibited from “possessing” firearms pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 922(g), nothing strips the individual of his/her property interest in the firearms and the individual retains “the right merely to sell or otherwise dispose of their firearms,” provided the felon lacks all control over the firearms. Our Gun Trusts already provide for this ability to just this type of purpose.
The Court also held that “§ 922(g) does not bar such a transfer unless it would allow the felon to later control the guns, so that he could either use them or direct their use.” This even permits an individual to create a gun trust after they lose their rights, assign the property to a trust as long as they do not have the ability to have direct or indirect use nor direct their use. A properly drafted gun trust would remove all abilities of a felon or prohibited person from using or directing the use of all firearms and ammo within the trust.
Section 922(g) proscribes possession alone, but covers possession in every form. By its terms, §922 (g) does not prohibit a felon from owning firearms. Rather, it interferes with a single incident of ownership—one of the proverbial sticks in the bundle of property rights—by preventing the felon from knowingly possessing his (or another person’s) guns. But that stick is a thick one, encompassing what the criminal law recognizes as “actual” and “constructive” possession alike. (Emphasis in original)
The Court declared that nothing prohibits the individual’s “right merely to sell or otherwise dispose of that item.” In supporting the concept of a gun trust the Court stated “A court may also grant a felon’s request to transfer his guns to a person who expects to maintain custody of them, so long as the recipient will not allow the felon to exert any influence over their use.”
If you have lost or are expecting to lose your gun rights, it is not too late to create a gun trust, contact us to create a secure gun trust as permitted by the Supreme Court to protect the value of your firearms or the firearms for your children and future generations.
We are often asked if you have to be 21 to build an SBR or Suppressor. If you are manufacturing a firearm under the NFA using an ATF Form 5320.1 you only need to be 18 under federal law. Likewise, if you are purchasing a firearm using an ATF Form 4 from an individual, trust, or non FFL you only need to be 18 years old. If you are buying one from an FFL, you must be 21 years old under federal law. Your state may impose stricter requirements.
Below is an excerpt from the attached letter from ATF explaining the age requirement.
This is in response to your letter of November 16, 2006, to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) advising that you are 18 years of age, the owner of a AR-15 type receiver, and wish to register it has a short-barreled rifle using an ATF 1 application.You ask whether ATF would approve the application submitted under these circumstances.
You state that your understanding of the Gun Control Act prohibits the transfer of Short Barreled Rifles, but that you cannot find any language in the GCA nor the NFA dealing with the already possessed rifle receiver. You are correct. The GCA does establish age requirements for the sale of firearms by licensees and the NFA is silent on age restrictions.
Accordingly, since the GCA does allow possession of rifles by persons under the age of 21, you would not be prohibited from applying on a Form 1 to make a short-barreled rifle.
While an application by an individual would need photographs and a certification from your chief of police or sheriff, an application using a Gun Trust would not.
While this may seem obvious, we regularly get asked this question. YES, when using the ATF eFiling for a Fom1, a signed copy of your gun trust must be uploaded. The maximum file size that can be attached is 3MB but you can upload multiple files if necessary. We recommend scanning your gun trust at 200 DPI in black and white or grayscale to keep the file size small. If you find that the file size is still over 3MB, you can separate the documents into several parts which can each be uploaded. In addition to the trust document, you must also submit all amendments which have been executed at the time of the filing, any schedules mentioned in the document like Shedule A, Sechedule B, lists of beneficiaries, list of co-trustees, and in most cases a Schedule A or Assignment sheet showing the trust has been funded is also required.
A word of caution about Gun Trusts that use a Schedule A to list firearms.
If your gun trust uses Schedules like a Schedule A to list the firearms, it may not be wise to include your non NFA firearms in the trust as you will end up sending the ATF a list of all of your firearms. Gun trusts that use assignment sheets are generally preferable to others because of the ability to maintain the privacy over your non NFA firearms.
While many people initially consider the use of a gun trust for NFA firearms, many of the same benefits exist for Title I firearms or those subject to the GCA. As we do not know who will survive us, where they will live, if they will be prohibited, or if they will be mature and responsible enough to have firearms after our death (we are not there to make those decisions) traditional estate planning can create problems for our family and friends.
Some trusts which are marketed as NFA trusts or gun trusts do not provide guidance on how to transfer NFA or Non NFA firearms and leave those decisions up to the individuals who survive you. You should carefully review your trust to make sure those who will survive you will clearly be able to understand their duties and obligations.
Many individuals have purchased thread adapters to permit the use of an oil filter as a “solvent trap”. The problem is that this adapter can also be used and is often intended to be used to create a suppressor. The resellers on ebay who sold these adapters have all seemed to have disappeared and many of their customers are reporting being contacted by local ATF agents to collect the parts they purchased.
Recently we have had several clients contact us about purchasing these “solvent trap parts” and using them to make a Suppressor with a Form 1. Apparently there is someone marketing these parts including baffles as a solvent trap to be used for gun cleaning. It would not surprise me, if ATF shut down the ability of companies to sell parts as cleaning kits or solvent traps and then began targeting the customers of these parts in much the same way as the ATF continues to contact the customers of the companies who previously sold them eBay.
ATF has taken the position, in the past, that a part to a suppressor is a suppressor and under this theory, if you purchase these parts, the parts may in and of themselves be considered suppressors. Paying the tax stamp on a Form 1 does give you the permission to manufacture a suppressor, but not necessary to purchase a suppressor manufactured by someone else. We would caution clients who are considering manufacturing their own suppressors from parts that ATF considers a suppressor as the purchase of these parts may require an approved Form 4.
For those who state that no one has ever been convicted of charges related to a homemade suppressor, you might see this article. Lots of people are charged and convicted of illegal suppressors. Sometimes people get the concept of people rarely being convicted of the use of a legally owned suppressor with the common occurrence of people being charged and or convicted of possession or use of an illegal suppressor.
I know many will say it is perfectly legal to purchase these items. ATF has previously indicated that it is legal a company to sell “solvent traps” and parts to “solvent traps” and It is legal to use them as “solvent traps”. The problem is that most people who purchase them intend to use them as suppressors or parts to a suppressor and not as a solvent trap. Even those who do not intend to use them as suppressors, sometimes do. Looking at what has happened with other products in the last year we can see that ATF seems to be moving from intent to use, to classify a firearm. Whether this is reasonable or proper for them to do, it is probably not a fight you as an individual can afford. It is our opinion, that the cost of defending your position, regardless of the outcome, is not something that makes sense for the average individual. The ATF is not stupid, the fact that you are even reading this article would indicate to most that your intention or interest in purchasing these items is not to use them as a solvent trap.
If you purchased a suppressor (solvent trap adapter) off ebay or somewhere else, you may want to contact a criminal law attorney in your area to talk with you about how to properly deal with the parts without creating liability or reducing the risk of liability. Just because you haven’t been contacted yet, does not mean they will not contact you. Even this week, we have had reports of people being contacted by the ATF in regards to the purchase of these items.
While at the NRA Firearms Law Seminar in Nashville, ATF ‘s attorney William Ryan made some interesting comments about the ATF, NFA, GCA and Gun Trusts:
- A trust can be a beneficiary of a will or other trust and obtain a tax free transfer using a Form 5 if the trust or will is drafted correctly.
- A Trust can be a beneficiary of a will if there is an order from the probate court directing the distribution to a trust, otherwise one might have to transfer to an individual on a Form 5 and then pay $200 to transfer items to a trust.
- ATF is still reviewing the 9500+ comments filed on 41P.
- ATF is not concerned about an executor being a prohibited person. (This seems to conflict with the original reason for 41P in the first place.)
- ATF likes lawyer drafted trusts, most trust problems are from gun store trusts, free trusts, or trust form that individuals try to create themselves.
- ATF examiners do not know the law, and have often made mistakes that can be cleared up by having your lawyer contact their legal department.
- ATF has seen many trusts which name the same individual as the beneficiary. It would appear that all of those people are just copying the trust from someone else. They believe that one day this random person could inherit thousands of NFA firearms.
- Between 2003 and 2012 trust applications increased 80,000 %.
- ATF stated that Gun Trusts can purchase and own both Title I and Title II firearms (those under the GCA and NFA).
With the recent increase in poorly written online trusts that have become available, ATF feels there will be a big business in fixing them down the road for those who have unknowingly received the free or fill in the blank trusts.
In my opinion, one of the worst examples of an online trust we have seen is the Easytrust being promoted by Silencerco. According to them, there may be as many as 1000 people who have already received this trust which contains numerous problems. For a trust that is only 4.5 pages long, it appears to have even more problems than a Gun Trust drafted from Quicken. The list of problems is huge, but the biggest problems include:
- The trust permits a trustee to easily violation the NFA throughout the document by not clearly prohibiting these violations.
- The trust permits any trustee to sell your guns without your consent.
- The Trust permits trustees to take away your gun rights, (from within the trust) if in their opinion you can’t handle your own affairs. Of course, your legal gun rights under the 2nd Amendment will not be removed, but your ability to use and have access to the guns in your trust can.
- The trust directs distribution to beneficiaries upon your death without any written permission (a violation of the NFA)
- The instructions incorrectly state that the trust needs to be registered in many states where it does not (seems to be similar to the problem we reported with the quicken trust)
- Directs you to obtain an EIN number for their trust when it is not necessary, if requested from your bank. The instructions should state why an EIN number is not required and direct you on a proper response to provide the bank or how to deal with this common misunderstanding to tax law that many banks can initially make
(Updated 4/19/15 for a clarification).
I guess you get what you pay for. Some people are only concerned about purchasing items and do not think about the consequences to themselves nor others. It is wise to do a little research on Gun Trusts and learn why you would want a Gun trust for all your firearms and not one limited to NFA Guns like Easytrust or many other trusts which are not supported by lawyers.
Joshua Prince, a PA Gun Trust Lawyer, has written about the ATF statements on his blog Shocking Statements/Concessions by ATF at the NRA Firearms Law Seminar
We are often asked about people who are not U.S. Citizens and their ability to be involved with a gun trust, purchase NFA firearms, or use NFA firearms.
Those who are not citizens are separated into two categories: 1) resident aliens and 2) nonimmigrant aliens. A resident alien is a person who is not a citizen of the United States, but has become a permanent resident of the United States. A nonimmigrant alien is generally a tourist, student, business traveler, or temporary worker who enters the U.S. for a fixed period of time. They are lawfully in the United States, but not lawfully a permanent resident.
Nonimmigrant aliens lawfully admitted to the United States without a visa are not prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing firearms or ammunition, provided they meet State of residency requirements and are not otherwise a prohibited person. As such, they are qualified to be a Trustee of a Gun Trust and in possession of an NFA firearm as long as they are not prohibited and meet the State residency requirements.
Nonimmigrant aliens lawfully admitted to the United States with a visa may purchase or possess a firearm in the United States only if they meet one of the following qualifications: Continue reading
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.
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:
- The ability to tell your representatives how to properly transfer these firearms upon your death regardless of the state that they live in;
- The ability to move states and maintain a trust that is easily recognized as valid in other states;
- The ability to deal with co-trustees and beneficiaries in multiple states;
- The ability for your minor children to use the NFA firearms with adult supervision and parental consent;
- 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;
- The ability to make unequal distributions so that firearms do not have to be liquidated to give equal distributions;
- 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