Can I still get a gun trust?

After the recent Executive Order regarding the NFA, I have been asked many times: “Can I still set up a gun trust?”. You can, and the President alone cannot prevent you from doing this. He can only make buying a firearm more difficult for your trust.

Before July

Until July 13th, 2016 the current (i.e. old) rules are in effect. We can set up a trust and transfer your firearms into it with minimal paperwork. To use the old rules, your transfer application (Form 4) or making application (Form 1) must be postmarked by Tuesday July 12th, 2016. We do not suggest pushing off your purchase for this long, but if you do, be sure to send the paperwork via certified mail so you can prove when it was sent and received.

Submitting your paperwork before July 13th is a viable option for both existing trusts and any new trusts that are established.

July 13th and Beyond

Trusts will still be able to buy or make firearms (including suppressors) after July 12th, 2016. However, applications submitted on or after the 13th of July will require additional documentation. While this will not prevent you from acquiring new firearms, we certainly realize that the inconvenience may warrant going ahead and purchasing firearms prior to July 13th, 2016.

New Forms and Paperwork for Transfers

For all transfers on or after July 13th, including making applications, every “responsible person” (to be discussed in a later post) will have to submit:

  • a Form 23 including a 2″x2″ photograph of the “responsible person”; and
  • duplicate FBI Forms FD-258 fingerprint cards.

These documents on the “responsible persons” will be in addition to the Form 4 (or other appropriate form) and documentation necessary to show the existence of your trust.

The photographs must be taken within the past year and show the bare head of the “responsible person.” Essentially, these are the same style photographs used for passports, and any passport quality photographs should suffice.

The FBI Form FD-258 fingerprint cards are the same fingerprint cards used for the SC Concealed Weapons Permit. These can normally be acquired at a local police station, but many SC CWP instructors also complete these cards.

Chief Law Enforcement Officer Notification

Starting July 13th, 2016, the CLEO sign off will change to a CLEO Notification. Additionally, the requirement will be extended to every “responsible person” of the trust.

The Trust itself will have to send a copy of the Form 4 (or the Form 1 or Form 5; whichever the trust is filing with the ATF) to a CLEO for the address where the Trust intends to keep the firearm. (i.e. The location of the head Trustee or business office of the Trust.)

Each “responsible person” of the trust will have to send a copy of the Form 4 (or other appropriate form) and Form 23, including the photograph, to a CLEO for their residence.

The Two Year Rule

If your trust has submitted the paperwork above in the past two years, had a form approved, and not undergone any changes, it can skip the submittal of supporting documents and instruct the ATF to refer back to the earlier approved transfer or making application. You will have to certify that the information submitted has not changed.

Unfortunately, this exclusion does not clearly extend to the CLEO notification, and by all appearances a new notification will have to be submitted for every transfer or manufacturing application. I expect we will learn more on this as we go forward.


There is still plenty of time to set up a trust and begin the transfer or making of NFA firearms. Even after July 12th, 2016, your trust can acquire NFA firearms with just a bit more hassle. The two year rule minimizes this burden, but it appears the Form 23 will still have to be submitted to the local CLEO even though it is not required to be submitted to the ATF. At least there will be no requirement to take fingerprints for every purchase.

If you wish to get ahead of these new requirements, please contact Robert today to get your trust set up.