A firearm, for some clients, is an important asset. It may be used for practical reasons, such as self–defense, used for sport, such as target shooting or hunting, or bought as an investment. For whatever reason you may own a firearm, you must follow national, state and local laws when purchase and maintain them. In firearm ownership, there are several important legal decisions to consider: (i) how you own the firearms, (ii) who may use the firearms with your consent, and (iii) how your firearms will pass upon your death. A Gun Trust can handle all of these issues for you.What is a Gun Trust?
A Gun Trust, also called an NFA Trust, Firearms Trust, Second Amendment Firearms Trust, Title II Trust or Class 3 Trust, is a type of revocable living trust specifically designed to legally own, use and transfer Title II firearms. The Gun Trust actually buys the firearm and holds title to it for you. Just as a gun safe protects your firearms by preventing them from being stolen or misused, a Gun Trust is a trust that controls who can use the firearms and how they can safely be shared during your lifetime and then transferred to persons or entities upon your disability or death.What are Title II Firearms?
They are firearms that are covered under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (“NFA”). The NFA is also known as Title II of the federal firearms laws. Some examples are silencers, short barrel rifles, shotguns and machine guns, destructive devices (DDs), any other weapons (AOWs) and other explosives. Your local firearms shop can help you decide if you are subject to the NFA.NFA Firearms – How Long Does it Take to Register or Transfer my Firearm?
The registration or transfer process takes approximately 1 to 3 months to complete.What Laws Must a Gun Trust Comply With?
A Gun Trust must comply with federal, state and local laws for firearms not to mention state trust laws.What is all Involved in Purchasing a Title II Firearm?
The purchase must be approved by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), you must obtain the signature of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (unless you purchase through a corporation or a trust), pass an extensive background check to include submitting a photograph and fingerprints, fully register the firearm with BATFE, receive BATFE’s written permission before moving the firearm across state lines, and pay a related tax.Can any Revocable Living Trust Hold Firearms?
The answer is no. The Trustee of a Gun Trust must be given special powers and instructions on how to deal with beneficiaries, what happens when the Grantor becomes mentally disabled or passes away. The Trustee must examine each beneficiary under federal, state and local laws to determine whether or not they, individually, may own and possess a firearm. The flexibility needed to allow the Trustee to properly oversee the trust can conflict with the normal language within a Revocable Living Trust and can cause an “accidental felony”, such as having a beneficiary of the trust who is not legally allowed to own, use or possess a firearm.What Are the Benefits of a Gun Trust?
A Gun Trust allows someone to own the guns in a private manner while not having to get the written approval of the Chief Law Enforcement Offer where you live. The Gun Trust takes local politics out of the purchase and leaves it in the hands of the federal government.
A Gun Trust can also be amended to include additional beneficiary or take out beneficiaries. This is important as it allows you to have full control over who can and cannot use your firearms.What Won’t a Gun Trust do?
A Gun Trust will not allow you to bypass the required background check when purchasing a firearm. The Trustee is still required to submit a photograph and fingerprints, register the gun with the BATFE and request permission to move the gun across state lines.Why Use a Gun Trust to Purchase the Firearm Instead of a Corporation of LLC?
Unlike a corporation or LLC, a Gun Trust does not require an annual filing fee to your Secretary of State, thereby saving you money annually.What happens if you violate the NFA?
You can be sentenced up to 10 years in federal prison, forfeit all of your firearms, forfeit your right to own or possess firearms in the future and be subject to fines up to $250,000.Who may use the firearm if it is owned by the Gun Trust?
NFA items owned by trusts are legal possessions of the Trustee (or Trustees if more than one Trustee is serving). Each Trustee may use the firearm as well as any beneficiary in the presence or under the authority of the Trustee. Be sure to not cause an “accidental felony” by naming a beneficiary who is legally not allowed to use, possess or own a firearm.Does a Gun Trust allow criminals to obtain firearms?
No. You cannot buy a short barreled shotgun, machine gun or any other firearm without a background check by using the Gun Trust. The benefit is that you do not have to have the local authorities sign off on the purchase. A criminal will use other means to get the firearms as the purchase can easily be traced back to the buyer with a Gun Trust.Where can I find information on Florida’s gun laws?
Florida’s gun laws are codified in Chapter 790 of the Florida statutes titled “Weapons and Firearms”.