The Second Amendment of the Constitution conveys Americans with the right to own firearms but modern gun restrictions and prohibitions are extremely complicated, ever changing, and vary significantly from state to state. Federal laws are equally complicated and continue to change over time. Even local ordinances can present challenges to those seeking to legally possess firearms. Moreover, the federal and state laws governing gun ownership have differing rules and regulations based on the classification or type of firearm in question. Given the ever changing restrictions and prohibitions on certain types of firearms, the harsh legal and civil penalties for illegally possessing a firearm, the multiple layers of laws affecting gun ownership, and the complex and ever changing federal and state registration procedures it is no wonder that gun owners are increasingly using Gun Trusts as a way to protect and preserve their firearms both during their lifetime and to ensure that their firearms are properly and legally transferred upon death.
A Gun Trust refers to one of the many different types of trusts that exist under the law as a means to hold ownership of firearms or other restricted weapons. Usually these trusts are used for certain classifications of firearms that are subject to strict federal and state regulation but they may also include any type of firearm or weapon. A Gun Trust can assist you if you own or plan on legally acquiring certain firearms or weapons, specifically Class 3 Firearms (silencers, short-barrel rifles and shotguns, machine guns, and other weaponry). The Gun Trust will purchase and hold title to the restricted firearm avoiding some of the federal transfer requirements. A Gun Trust also allows more than one person to legally possess and use the weapons held in the trust. If more than one person is named as trustee each trustee will have the right to possess or use the entrusted firearms.
Gun Trusts are especially valuable in assisting the executor of your estate with matters involving the disbursement and transfer of your firearms after you pass. Many problems can arise during the transfer of gun ownership. An executor of an estate can easily and unintentionally violate federal and/or state criminal laws by transferring a weapon without going through the proper procedure, taking or sending a firearm to a state where it is prohibited, or giving a firearm to a person who is legally prohibited from owning one.
Oftentimes it is perfectly legal for one person to own a particular firearm and illegal for another person to possess the same firearm. Collateral consequences occur upon the conviction of certain crimes and one of the main collateral consequences is the prohibition on possession of firearms. Persons subject to a restraining order, users of controlled substances, people with mental health issues, and illegal aliens are more of the many examples of the vast prohibitions that surround gun possession. Criminal laws governing gun possession are serious and violating these laws, even inadvertently, can lead to the conviction of a crime with consequences such as prison time, fines, and forfeitures of all firearms not just the firearm subject of the criminal proceeding.
If you are a gun owner or are considering becoming one you should consult a trusted attorney with experience in Gun Trusts. A consultation with an experienced attorney can help you navigate the complex layers of gun legislation and assist you in complying with all of the various gun laws, regulations, and registration requirements. An attorney skilled in the formation of Gun Trusts can also help to ensure that your firearms are properly accounted for and dealt with as part of your comprehensive estate plan while protecting your loved ones who will inherit your guns from the severe consequences that may accompany the violation of any of the multitude of laws that govern the transfer of firearms.