Purchasing a National Firearm Act (NFA) regulated item through a trust is less intrusive than purchasing the same items as an individual. First, an individual purchaser of a NFA item must acquire the sign off of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) of his residence. Second, an individual must have his or her fingerprints taken on the proper FBI form and submit the same to the ATF for a background check. Third, an individual must submit passport style photographs less than six months old to the ATF. A Trust is not required to submit any of this information with its Form 4.
The signature of the CLEO is required to prove that the individual is a law abiding citizen and that the CLEO knows of no reason why he or she should not be permitted to purchase and own the firearm. In South Carolina this responsibility normally falls onto the county Sheriff. Unfortunately Sheriffs are busy with more pressing matters than signing off on a NFA purchase and the signature can take some time to work through the office. In some counties, the Sheriff has been known to not sign any request on principle. Because an individual only has one residence, and therefore one CLEO, this can effectively delay, or prevent, the purchase of a NFA firearm.
An individual must have his or her fingerprints taken on the appropriate FBI fingerprint cards. Most police stations will offer this service for a small fee, and it may be able to secure this at the same time you are seeking the CLEO’s permission to purchase a NFA firearm. However, it is more likely that this requirement represents another trip for the would be NFA owner.
Finally, passport photographs can be taken many places including some drugstores and post offices, but this will require you to take another chunk of time during business hours to have the photographs taken and the service is not free. Due to the delay for acquiring the CLEO’s signature, it is possible that the photographs could become too old to serve and the individual would be required to secure another set of photographs.
At best the individual must make at least two stops. One for the pictures and one for the CLEO sign off and fingerprints. At worst the individual may encounter a CLEO who does not believe in the ownership of NFA firearms and refuses to sign off regardless of your past history as a responsible citizen. Most individuals will encounter some level of paperwork between these two extremes likely resulting in several follow-up calls to the office of the CLEO to secure the necessary signature. Only once these tasks are completed can the individual proceed with filing the Form 4.
An trust purchasing a NFA firearm is not required to submit any of these items. This allows you to reduce your stops to just the gun shop and the attorney before filing your form 4. To further reduce the difficulty of purchasing a NFA item, I can represent clients across the state of South Carolina over the phone and internet and instruct any notary public in executing the trust. A trip to the office is not necessary, and many gun shops that I work with have a notary public on staff thereby effectively eliminating your need to go anywhere other than the gun shop. The only thing more convenient than buying a suppressor is buying the pistol to go with it!
By using a trust you do not have to alert your local CLEO to your intent to buy a NFA firearm, and you do not have to submit your fingerprints and photograph to be kept on file by the ATF. The trust allows you to keep your private life private, and in today’s world that is more important than ever.