What are gun trusts and why have one?

Since I began speaking publically on concealed carry over two years ago, I often get asked about gun trusts.  What are gun trusts and why have one?  Lawyers work best in areas they have personal experience.  That’s why I’m excited to say that this week I received my ATF tax stamp for a short barreled rifle.  This process begin almost a year ago when I set up a gun trust for my family, completed the form, got finger printed and paid the $200 application fee.

A gun trust is like any other trust in most ways.  The trust is really a separate entity.  A trustee or trustees control the operation of the trust.  The trust owns property, and in the case of a gun trust it owns guns and related accessories.  A trust can conduct business through its trustee, including applying for ATF tax stamps for guns and accessories regulated through the National Firearms Act.  These regulated items include short barreled rifles, sound suppressors, and fully automatic weapons.

Last year I decide to set up a gun trust for my family even though my kids are still pretty young.  Why?  Well, for one, the wait time for my tax stamp was just over 4 months, compared to 6 to 8 month wait time for personal applications.  Second, the gun trust will allow my short barreled rifle to be used by my family and not just me.  NFA rules allow only the person who is listed on the tax stamp form to possess the registered item, in my case the short barreled rifle. Because the trust is the one listed on the tax stamp form, any trustee of the trust can legally possess my short barreled rifle.

Gun trusts lost their luster for many people in 2014 when ATF proposed a rules change which would require a trustee to be fingerprinted and obtain approval from law enforcement on the ATF form.  This rule change was ultimately postponed until May 2015.  Gun trusts still have purpose, though, even if it is only used to reduce the time waiting for ATF approval.  If you would like to know about gun trusts or would like to have your own gun trust drafted, fell free to contact me, Attorney Matthew Menges at  717.843.8046.