All too commonly I am approached by a client who has “found” or “discovered” a possession of a late relative. These discoveries can range from an original short barreled rifle that a beloved relative had prior to 1934 to a machinegun brought home as a war trophy. Normally no paperwork is with the firearm.
So what can be done?
First, this is not where your local gun shop can help. I trust the shops I deal with, and most will quickly refer someone with this question to me. However, information shared here is not protected and is subject to being overheard by other customers.
Second, see an attorney. In the law firm setting you are protected by the attorney-client privilege and all is discussed behind closed doors. This allows you to explore your options securely in private and without opening yourself up to further risk. (For those of you considering expenses I add these tidbits: A) the estate should be responsible for any legal fees, B) the firearm, if saved, may be very valuable, and C) the cost to “plan ahead” is a lot cheaper than defending yourself against a ten year felony charge!)
How can I help? For starters, I can help narrow down what papers you are looking for. I have dealt with clients that have looked over the proper papers simply because they did not know what they were looking at. As a next step, I can help you navigate the regulatory waters of the ATF to see if the firearms in question may be registered. Beyond this, options are fact intensive and tricky.
Many people are tempted to put a firearm back where they found it and ignore it. This many times is asking for serious trouble. (And sometimes where none would be had if the firearm was properly transferred!) Before you choose what to do give me a call and learn your options. You may be pleasantly surprised, and if nothing else you’ll know the risks of choosing not to decide.