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Proposed Rules BATFE Rules Changes – Will an NFA Trust Still be “Worth It?”

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Anyone in the market for an NFA (National Firearms Act of 1934) firearm these days is probably aware of the benefits of an NFA Trust.  In an effort to make these trusts less attractive, the BATFE recently proposed rule changes that would eliminate many of the differences between trust-based applications for NFA firearms registration, and individual-based registrations.  The proposed changes that have NFA collectors worried are the requirement for additional trustee information to be provided, and particularly the proposed requirement of requiring each trustee to receive the infamous “Chief LEO sign-off.”

Requiring each trustee to submit their information is a minor inconvenience in the greater scheme of things when considering the costs and waiting times involved with collecting NFA items.  It could be argued that in the long run it may protect those trustees and make them more cognizant of their responsibilities and obligations as caretakers of NFA firearms.  This requirement, if it comes to pass, should not put anyone off from applying for registration of an NFA firearm via a trust.

The Chief Law Enforcement Officer Sign-Off requirement is a potentially more troublesome issue.  While this writer is not aware of it being a problem in New Hampshire, in some states, there are law enforcement officials who simply do not respect the Second Amendment and who refuse to sign-off on NFA applications, despite the fact that law-abiding applicants could purchase non-NFA versions of the same firearms that use the same ammunition!  For those unlucky enough to live in those jurisdictions, the Chief-LEO sign-off requirement can be a real problem in getting an NFA application underway.

However, assuming you live in a relatively free state like New Hampshire with a record of respecting the rights of law-abiding firearms owners, the Chief LEO sign-off requirement should not put you off of utilizing a trust to procure NFA items for yourself and your family.  It is another step in the already long and expensive process, but all of the other benefits of trust-based ownership still exist.

NFA items are expensive, and there is, at the time of this writing, a wait of up to 9-12 months for applications to be processed.  A trust allows resources to be pooled so that multiple owner/trustees can control and utilize the same NFA firearms – something that an individual applicant cannot permit without close, in-person supervision.  Trust-based ownership potentially reduces the need for a number of lengthy wait times, reduces the taxes paid, and still provides the flexibility of family-based ownership and control.  Of course, it also provides the estate-planning benefits of making sure that the items go where the grantors intent upon their passing.

An NFA trust will still be “worth it” even if the proposed BATFE rules come to pass.  There will be new steps and further delays, but in the end it will provide a family of NFA collectors with greater security and flexibility in the use and storage of their NFA items.

If you have are interested in an NFA trust you should consult Jason Major, an experienced NFA trust lawyer at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. at (603) 288-1403 or fill out our online contact form for a case evaluation.