Now that ATF 41F has taken affect, clients are asking if there is anyway to purchase additional NFA firearms without having everybody and their brother get fingerprints and photographs. The answer is yes, but with a bit more work. The process is simplest to understand with the new client, and therefore I lay it out with him in mind.
The NFA Two Step
For the new client, i.e. someone without a trust, we can guide him through the process with minimal paperwork yet still achieve the chief benefits of a trust. What are those benefits? Multiple people able to possess NFA firearms, flexibility in changing who can possess and use your firearms, clarity and ease passing down the firearms after your death, and privacy for your beneficiaries and future trustees. To accomplish this after ATF 41F will require a bit more complicated two step process.
First we’ll establish your trust with just you as a trustee. As the only trustee you will be the only person who has to submit a Form 23 (i.e. fingerprints and photographs). But you’ll also be the only person who can possess the NFA firearms. This isn’t a concern yet, because it’ll take six months or more to get any NFA firearms transferred into the trust.
Now you can head to a gun shop and purchase all of the NFA firearms you desire. The ATF is familiar with multiple pending transfers for a trust, and you can buy many – unlimited – items at one time.
Once you have purchased and started the transfers for all of the items you wish to buy, you wait. In time those transfers will come back in approved. When the transfers are back approved, you can start the second step.
After you’ve sent in all of the Form 4s and Form 1s for the NFA firearms you wish to purchase, and those same Forms are back approved, you can amend your trust to add additional trustees who will help you manage the trust and take care of the firearms. Who to add isn’t a light decision, and the time spent during step one can be used to help determine who is appropriate to include in the trust and to educate them on the responsibilities of being a trustee.
You will be responsible for ensuring that any new trustees can legally own firearms. As always, prohibited persons are, well, prohibited. So this is not away around any laws on possession, and I will ask about each trustee’s ability to possess firearms.
Once the trust is amended, new trustees will be able to possess and use the firearms owned by the trust or later acquired by it.
What if I have a Trust?
If you already have a trust, you will just add a step at the beginning to remove any unnecessary trustees. This is also a good time to ensure that your address is correct and to change beneficiary designations. If your trust is particularly old, we may restate it entirely for more up-to-date language. Anyone trustees who will continue to use firearms will remain on the trust, and only these trustees will have to submit a Form 23 for your new purchases.
It is always a good idea to review estate planning documents every three to five years, and this will be a good reason to review your trust and make changes. After the changes are made, you can move forward with your purchase.
What is the Form 23 which the Two Step allows us to minimize?
This is the new form which every “responsible person” is required to submit when an entity, i.e. trust, submits a Form 1 or Form 4. This is where you will attach photographs and fingerprints. Most gun shops are preparing to deal with this new form and have already stocked fingerprint cards and made plans to take pictures. In the alternative, CWP trainers or your local police station can also help with fingerprint cards. And passport style photos can be had at dozens of places.
While completing this form will certainly be some hassle, it will not prevent you from buying a NFA Firearm. Especially if you only have one or two trustees. The Two Step allows you to minimize this hassle and comply with the law.
Putting it all Together
Under ATF 41F the process for setting up your trust and acquiring NFA firearms will be more cumbersome. But with an amendment or two, we can still make the process straight forward and fairly simple. These work arounds will take the hassle out of the buying process.
We are constantly looking to improve, and it may be possible to streamline this process as the definition of “responsible person” becomes clearer. While I’ll be working on that, no promises can be made. In the meantime, there is always the two-step. Please contact my office when you are ready to get started with a NFA Trust, restatement, or an amendment.