Gun Trusts

Title II Weapons Ownership Compliance: Boca Raton Trust Attorneys

In Florida, civilians are legally allowed to own restricted weapons, known as Title II weapons, which are sold by Class 3 dealers. However, certain procedures must be followed to ensure that ownership of these weapons complies with state and federal law.

What is a Title II (Class 3) Weapon?

  1. Short Barrel Rifles (any rifle with a barrel length less than 16″, or overall length less than 26″)
  2. Short Barrel Shotguns (any shotgun with a barrel length less than 18″, or overall length less than 26″)
  3. Suppressors
  4. Fully Automatic Firearms (any weapon which shoots automatically more than one shot by a single function of the trigger)

In order to legally own a Title II weapon, approval must first be given by the ATF. This approval comes in the form of a “tax stamp,” which is affixed to the form that you will send to the ATF requesting permission to own the weapon. If you are building a Title II weapon, (for example, if you are building a short barrel rifle from an existing lower receiver), you will send a Form 1 to the ATF. If you are purchasing an existing Title II device, (for example, a suppressor), then you will send a Form 4 to the ATF.

Requirements The ATF application requests specific information about your item, such as serial number, description, etc. The second page of the form asks many similar questions as the form to purchase a regular firearm, i.e. past felony convictions, etc. However, this section also requires the CLEO (Chief Law Enforcement Officer) signature, meaning that the Sheriff must sign the form. In 99% of the cases, civilians (and even military and police personnel) have realized that the Sheriff will refuse to sign the form. What now?

Application made through an Entity

The ATF currently states that if the application (either the Form 1 or Form 4) is made through an entity, such as a trust, corporation, or LLC, then NO CLEO SIGNATURE IS REQUIRED. Furthermore, no fingerprints or passport photo is required. A proposal, known as ATF 41P, is currently on the table, and a final decision will be made some time this year, most likely toward the end of the year. Under this proposal, the CLEO signature may become a requirement for trusts in the future, effectively banning Title II devices. However, at the present moment, the ATF is still processing trust applications under the current rules. BOTTOM LINE – you still have time to get your applications in. If you need assistance with your application or have questions about the process, a Boca Raton trust attorney at the Walser Law Firm can help.

Why not use a corporation or LLC?

Some clients have stated that they would rather use a corporation or LLC for owning their weapons. This is a poor choice for several reasons. If you currently own a corporation or LLC, and would just like to add items to your entity, you must remember that if you are doing business through your entity, and that business gets sued, your weapons will now be considered assets of the company and are exposed to possible forfeiture. If you do not currently have a corporation or LLC, then remember that there are annual filing fees, and all information about your company is public record.

Benefits of a Trust

  • No CLEO signature required
  • No Annual Fees – the trust document is good forever
  • Add as many Title II items as you like – there is no limit
  • No registration/filing requirements (your information remains private)
  • Allows for legal transfer of your Title II weapons if something were to happen to you

Why can’t I just use a regular revocable trust?

Although most Florida Revocable Trusts can hold firearms, many are not setup properly to deal with the special issues involving items regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA). When the NFA is violated, the individuals who violate the act are subject to substantial fines, criminal charges, and forfeiture of all weapons (not just those regulated). Many times owners of Title II weapons simply use pre-made trust forms or software designed to create trusts; however, they must be aware that there are potential problems that may result.

The Florida NFA Gun or Firearms Trust must give the Trustee special powers so that they can legally manage for unplanned events. Weapons and other assets in a Firearms Trust cannot be distributed like other assets upon the death or incapacity of the person who placed the items in the trust. The Trustee needs to be careful in their management of the revocable trusts for NFA purchases. A properly created trust for obtaining and holding Firearms is a complicated document and caution is advised to any individuals who would attempt to use a standard or form trust. For the past 5 years, as a Boca Raton trust attorney, I have offered my clients legal services in dealing with the unique field of law involving firearms regulated by the National Firearms Act.

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