A gun trust is a type of trust used to register and own firearms in the United States. A gun trust is not a necessity to register or own firearms in the United States, but they do provide many useful benefits, especially in cases where the firearms owned are Title II/Class 3.
First, a gun trust permits more than one person to possess and use weapons held in the trust. This means that each individual belonging to the trust has the right to possess and use the firearms. Under federal law, the death of a gun owner triggers hurdles for the intended beneficiaries of the firearms. A gun trust enables the individual setting up the trust to establish beneficiaries, and these beneficiaries will not have to get fingerprinted and photographed, or to have to ask for permission form the local chief law enforcement officer to receive the weapons.
In addition to making it easier to transfer firearms upon death, a gun trust can also make it easier to transfer Title II weapons. Common Title II/Class 3 Weapons under the National Firearms Act includes, among other specific weapons, certain machine guns, short-barreled rifles with barrels shorter than 16 inches, shotguns with barrels less than 18 inches long, suppressors, and destructive devices. Without establishing a gun trust, the individual who wishes to purchase any Title II/Class 3 Weapons must obtain the local chief law enforcement officer’s signature, pay the application fee and tax, and submit fingerprints and a photograph. After which, only the individual who submitted the application may possess or own the Title II/Class 3 weapon. In addition to allowing for a more private transaction, a gun trust also makes it much easier to transfer these weapons. However, for those individuals who live in a State where private transfers must be done through a dealer, it is still recommended to follow any and all State statutes for the transfer of firearms.
A Federal Firearms License permits companies or individuals to manufacture, import, and sell firearms. While a gun trust can not hold a FFL, a gun trust may by the owner of a corporation or LLC that holds a Federal Firearms License. The gun trust enables the business to create a legal and easy succession plan for the company.
A gun trust is therefore useful for those who want to protect their weapons and loved ones upon their death, individuals who want to transfer Title II weapons with greater ease, and those who want to get into the business of manufacturing or selling firearms. A gun trust is not a regular trust, and it is recommended that for those individuals who wish to set up a gun trust to consult with an experienced gun trust attorney. A simple estate attorney is not recommended, as the gun trust must contain specific language in order to comply with the the strict federal firearms law.
Puryear Law has created many NFA gun trusts for clients. Those interested in having our firm create an NFA gun trust for them can see the NFA Gun Trust page on our website.