The National Firearms Act was enacted in the 1930s to try and keep gangsters from getting “dangerous” firearms. It was one of the first gun control laws on the federal level, and continues to be one of the most subjective. Even if you live in a state that doesn’t outlaw the possession of a machine gun or a silencer, you still need to have the “chief law enforcement officer” for your area sign off on your paperwork in order to get NFA-covered items. And if they don’t (or won’t) sign off, it’s a de facto ban in that area. The law permits you to own the items, but the opinion of a single person can override the law. Fortunately, there’s a way around that obstacle: form a gun trust. And it looks like the White House and the ATF are about to try and shut off that option . . .
The beauty of a gun trust is that since the trust is legally an individual, it can own firearms and NFA items. But since it isn’t a corporeal person, there’s no criminal record to check and no fingerprints to be taken. Therefore, no background checks. It makes buying NFA items much simpler, and if you setup a trust for each item you can transfer it from person to person without going through the ATF (simply by re-assigning ownership of the trust).
Naturally, that doesn’t make President or AG Holder happy.
The Obama administration is working to close a loophole in the nation’s gun laws that allows for some machine guns and sawed-off shotguns to be sold without the buyer submitting fingerprints or photographs.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is working on a new regulation that would require more background information when the weapons are sold to someone through a corporation or legal trust.
We talked to a representative of the NFATCA a while back when the first rumors started circulating that this might be going on, and the current thinking is that there’s no way that NFA trusts are going away. The implications of requiring all NFA items to be registered to an individual would be disastrous to things like police departments and manufacturers. But what the NFATCA thinks might be coming down the pipe is a requirement for some or all of the individuals listed on the trust paperwork to submit fingerprints and other identification documents for background checks. This wouldn’t be the end of the CLEO sign-off, just an end to skipping the 10-print cards.
So while the Obama administration is definitely “going after” the “trust loophole,” the sky is not falling. Yet. We still haven’t seen the proposed rule change, but we’re pretty confident in what it is going to say. And trusts still aren’t going anywhere.