Gun Trust FAQs
Q. If I’m carrying an NFA item in Florida, and am stopped by a LEO (law enforcement officer), what do I need to produce in order to prove that I legally possess that item?
A. Legally, you have no obligation to prove ownership of your NFA firearm to a LEO, such as a police officer, sheriff, or fish and wildlife officer, any more than you’d need to prove ownership of your rifle or handgun. Only an ATF officer (and maybe the IRS) has the legal authority to demand to see your tax stamp. However, if you’d prefer not to spend a day or night in jail while things get sorted out, common sense and basic courtesy suggests you produce a copy of your tax stamp to any law enforcement officer who asks to see it. That’s all that’s required. You don’t have to carry a copy of your trust around. (Although I do have several clients who store a copy of their trust and their stamps in the cloud so they can access them if absolutely necessary). Keep your original stamps somewhere safe, put a copy in your gun trust binder, and keep a copy with the NFA item AT ALL TIMES.
Q. If I’m at a range with friends who are known to me, and my NFA regulated items are present, how may my friends legally handle and fire those items?
A. As long as you have your tax stamp in your possession and the weapons are within a few feet of you, share away.
Q. If I’m at a range and the range officer or other range employee or volunteer asks to see my tax stamp, do I need to produce it?
A. Technically, under NFA rules, if they are not ATF officers, you don’t need to produce your tax stamp. However, since you’re a guest on the property, they can legally ask you to leave if you don’t follow their rules. And if you refuse to leave, they can have the police forcibly remove you from the property. Which could lead to bigger problems. So, don’t be that guy or girl – show them your tax stamp.
Q. I have a friend who I know is a responsible, lawful gun owner. He would like to use one of the NFA regulated items in my trust for an afternoon at the range when I cannot attend. Is there a way for him to be able to do this if I can’t be present?
A. Maybe. It depends on how the gun trust is written. Some trusts allow the Grantor of the trust to temporarily appoint a lifetime beneficiary and special trustee for a limited period of time for specific reasons. This temporary trustee must not have any powers that would qualify him or her as a Responsible Person under the new NFA regulations. But all the legal ducks must be in a row for this to be done to comply with the law. Discuss this with the attorney who drafted your gun trust.
Q. What are the legal risks to me and my trust if there is a mishap involving an NFA item, or any firearm, held in my trust?
A. Most gun trusts are a type of revocable living trust, which provides absolutely no liability protection to you or anyone using any of the guns – NFA or not – held in the trust. You have the same liability you’d have if the firearm were not held in a trust. If you allow an adult to use your firearm and you’ve done your due diligence (you know she isn’t a criminal and doesn’t have a history of carelessness, drug or alcohol abuse, anger issues, domestic violence, etc.), you’ve maintained the firearm properly, and you had no reason to believe the weapon would be used unlawfully, then it would be difficult (I can’t say impossible) for a victim to successfully sue you.