Should I setup a trust now?An old schoolmate of mine asked about gun trusts. I thought it was a good question, given the timeliness of what is happening with new rules and the ATF, so I'm including it as a general post. Open to comments, and glad to discuss!
Question: Do you handle NFA Trusts (class 3)?
Actually, we have worked on a couple -- more review then creating. There are very few folks that want to challenge the DC gov't on the basis of a trust. However, I think you did not mean Class III (dealer), but rather Title II weapons as protected under the NFA. A trust is certainly the way to go, but I think there may be a problem. At the moment, if memory serves, ATF is eliminating the rule that allows trust to by-pass the chief of police certification process for Title II weapons. To recap briefly -- the reason for the trust is two fold. One, it allows more than one person to be the "possessor" of Title II weapons (so long as they are on the trust), and two, it circumnavigates the requirement of local law enforcement to sign-off on the prints/photo/background of the applicant (often jamming the application process for Title II weapons). The new rules proposed by the ATF would not change point one above, but would require that EVERY member of the trust be approved by the local chief of police prior to the trust being permitted to purchase weapons. Seems to defeat the purpose of the trust, eh? See generally: http://www.atf.gov/sites/default/files/assets/inside-atf/2013/082913-wash-machine-guns-destructive-devices-and-certain-other-firearms.pdf. Supposedly, these new rules are supposed to go into effect at the end of June, but I have not been tracking this closely (not a major practice area).
The real question, though, is whether current trusts will be grandfathered from the requirement to run checks prior to purchasing. That's not clear from the rule, and it won't be clear until someone challenges this in Court. Folks in VA are yowling at the intrusion; nothing like what is showing up in the gun discussion boards in TX.
I think gun laws are rather an interesting area of the law. There are great cases indicating that the origins of the right to bear arms stems from the need for States to call citizens to defend the country and, therefore, needed to bear weapons appropriate for that purpose. It is interesting to note that very few, if any, recent gun incidents stem from abuse of trusts. Anyone up for a legal battle?
Glad to answer additional questions if you have them! - Sean
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