Proposed NFA Form Changes


According to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affiars a series of changes are being proposed to the NFA transfer process (the process involved in acquiring a machine gun, suppressor, short barreled rifle/shotgun, etc.). These changes will:

  • Eliminate the requirement of a law enforcement official to sign your forms
  • Require each responsible person of a corporation, trust or legal entity to complete a specified form 1 or 4
  • Require each member of a trust to complete and to submit photographs and fingerprints with forms
  • Require that a copy of all forms be forwarded to the chief law enforcement officer of the locality in which the maker or transferee is located

This series of proposed changes seemingly eliminates the benefits of forming an “NFA Trust”, a popular way to easily facilitate navigating the difficult NFA process. The elimination of the dreaded law enforcement signature for individuals however is a definite benefit.

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Alex C.

Alex is a writer for The Firearm Blog who was born and raised in Texas with years of experience in hunting, shooting competitions, and general collecting. A degree in History from Baylor University with an emphasis on the Age of Imperialism and a minor in English have contributed to his love of both early and modern firearms technology. Alex is most fond of machine guns and other NFA toys.



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  • UpholdandDefend

    I disagree with the statement that proposed NFA changes would seemingly eliminate the benefits of NFA Trusts.

    Everybody’s getting excited about this possibility because of the CLEO issue, but they’re overlooking the ‘dominion and control’ problem. The NFA owner must always have ‘dominion and control’ over each NFA firearm. Many people want a trust just for this purpose. These include people who can easily obtain their CLEO’s signature but fear criminal liability if their wife has the combination to the gun safe or when they leave their range bag in their buddy’s car after a visit to the range. They will continue to find trusts an important protection for themselves, friends, and family.

    Imagine if Senator Feinstein gets her way. The NFA will be expanded and the ‘dominion and control’ standard would apply to all guns. If a gun owner loans his grandson his deer rifle? Felony. If an heirloom rifle hangs on the wall, felony. If we faced such gun control, a gun trust might be more valuable than ever to ensure others around are guns do not violate the law.

    Of course many want trusts because of the estate plan aspect of a well designed gun trust. This is a big issue in and of itself concerning firearms safety and compliance with gun laws. If we do face greater gun control ever, an estate plan in a gun trust can help a later generation avoid big problems.

    So the reports and rumors of NFA changes are not a sign we have fewer worries. If the proposed changes might occur, the smart move could be to make use of a gun trust now before new rules take effect–in the hope one could file form 1′s and 4′s under current conditions before any changes take effect. Given a choice, I’m scrambling to take advantage of current conditions of using an NFA trust rather than waiting to see what the future holds.

  • Dennis Brislawn

    I agree completely with UpholdandDefend’s comment. A Gun Trust is far more than an “NFA” Trust. The purpose is to provide guidance on possession and transfer of firearms, albeit that interest in such trusts is driven by making it easier to go through the application process.

    There are many benefits of a competently-drafted gun trust, and so many options provided for these special assets, that it is hard to list them here. An irrevocable gun trust can provide dynastic (multi-generational ownership), with tools to add/remove beneficiaries, methods to appoint Trustees… all with only ONE transfer to the trust… when it is initially funded. Preserving your firearms legacy takes a little effort so long as you work with all the information required, and with someone who can help you apply it.

    An estate planning attorney may or may not know gun law. A conventional living trust written by the best attorney is unlikely to contain ANY firearms related guidance or legal references to protect trustees from error in possession or transferring a firearm, or administering benefits. In my practice I see such mistakes made by talented lawyers and intelligent clients all the time… including the transfer of NFA firearms without going through the required process. But I have seen it happen with conventional firearms too… giving them to prohibited persons, putting them in the mail, etc.

    With the extremely emotional debate about guns in America raging around us, it seems to me that it’s time to do a little planning for firearms we own. And, we need to do it correctly.

  • Are these Trusts Tested

    You make some interesting assertions Dennis. Having just gone through the process of having a gun trust drawn up I wonder how much your points will hold up to a legal test.

    I used a firm that offered three level of gun trusts that had
    supposed been well researched and developed. With the potential law changes I stressed that I wanted the trust (and thus initial transfer) survive across generations. I was told that there was no way to do this.

    From what I was told the trust has to end 21years after my death or, if I am married at the time of my death, my wife’s. That’s going to leave my children having to go through the transfer process (admittedly on a form 5) years down the line if they want to keep the NFA items held in the trust. While that does buy them 21 years it doesn’t live up to the multi-generational image that started me down the trust path.

    What was even more disturbing was when I stumbled across the issue that two out of the firm’s three gun trust levels would not allow me to do something that I could do if I acquired the NFA item as a an individual.

    When I was questioning the person drawing up my trust it came out that something as simple as taking an NFA item legally to another state even after having a 5320.20
    approved by the ATF was _not_ covered. I grilled the person since it meant that two
    out of the their three trusts left people exposed on a legal front that they would not be as an individual owner of an NFA item. In fact if I hadn’t asked my question I would have been exposed.

    Both of these ‘finds’ didn’t give me a warm fuzzy that the things I didn’t know to question in the gun trust were done correctly to the point that they would hold up to a legal test.

  • James Granoski

    In my opinion, even if those regulations are approved, an NFA trust is still by far the best way to own NFA items. The advantages of an NFA Trust include, but are not limited to:

    1. More than one person can access the NFA item; and

    2. The initial trustees of the trust can provide for multiple generations of friends or family to use and access the item without paying transfer fees or receiving additional ATFE approval; and

    3. Future generations of trustees will not have to go through probate to acquire the authority to access the NFA items; and

    4. Unlike corporate, LLC or partnership ownership of NFA items, the existence of a trust is not disclosed to anyone besides the ATFE; and

    5. Unlike a corporation or an LLC, a trust does not require annual filing fees with a state; and

    6. Unlike a corporation or LLC, a trust does not require initial or annual meetings or the regular completion of internal paperwork to maintain corporate existence; and

    7. Unlike a corporation, LLC or partnership, a trust is not required to file annual tax returns with a state or the federal government.

    If you are a Virginia resident, I welcome you to contact me, James Granoski, at [email protected], or refer your friends to me to establish an NFA Trust.

    1. More than one person can access the NFA item; and

    2. The initial trustees of the trust can provide for multiple generations of friends or family to use and access the item without paying transfer fees or receiving additional ATFE approval; and

    3. Future generations of trustees will not have to go through probate to acquire the authority to access the NFA items; and

    4. Unlike corporate, LLC or partnership ownership of NFA items, the existence of a trust is not disclosed to anyone besides the ATFE; and

    5. Unlike a corporation or an LLC, a trust does not require annual filing fees with a state; and

    6. Unlike a corporation or LLC, a trust does not require initial or annual meetings or the regular completion of internal paperwork to maintain corporate existence; and

    7. Unlike a corporation, LLC or partnership, a trust is not required to file annual tax returns with a state or the federal government.

    If you are a Virginia resident, I welcome you to contact me, James Granoski, at [email protected], or refer your friends to me to establish an NFA Trust.

    James A. Granoski
    Attorney at Law
    505 Wythe Street
    Alexandria, VA 22314
    Telephone (703) 300-2786
    Email: [email protected]