NFA Gun Trust Review
Recently I have been looking into getting some value oriented C3 Defense suppressors to review and then eventually use these suppressors during reviews of other suppressor ready (those with a threaded barrel) firearms. During a discussion with the C3 Defense representatives, they suggested looking into setting up a NFA Gun Trust for the registration of ownership because having a trust can reduce the time and difficulties associated with purchasing NFA regulated items. They described some of these difficulties as getting passport photos, fingerprints, the county Sheriff to sign off on the paperwork, and then the issue of who actually has the right to possess (shoot) the items. From a time perspective, not having to get photos, fingerprint cards, background checks and signatures will clearly reduce the time to receive your NFA item. All of these seemed like good points and that was when I started falling down the NFA Gun Trust rabbit hole wondering how deep it may go. This review is what I found along the way.
I'm not sure if this is really a review, but more of a compilation of what I learned while doing my research and an explanation of how I made my decisions during the process of getting a NFA specific gun trust in place. This information should not be considered as formal legal advice, but instead as a guide to point you in some good direction when you are doing your own research. Also keep in mind that I live in the state of Georgia, so there may be items that are state specific. If you have already searched on the internet, you can find some good information out there, but my impression is that some of it may also be confusing or misleading. If you see anything that is in error in this review, please send an email to email@example.com and I will do some research to confirm and then update the review.
To start out this review, this next information is my simplified version about the NFA and regulated firearms. If you want the long versions, I've provided links to those documents where possible.
National Firearms Act (NFA)
For the average consumer, The National Firearms Act (NFA) basically imposes a tax on the transfer of certain firearms along with requiring registration of those firearms. In most cases the tax is $200, but in the case of weapons identified as "any other weapons", this tax is $5. The NFA also covers rules and regulations for importers, manufacturers and dealers, but since I'm trying to keep this write-up simple and directed toward the "average consumer" (like me) I'm not going to cover those aspects. If you would like to see a copy of the NFA, click here for a PDF version of the Federal Firearms Regulation Reference Guide and scroll down to page 74.
NFA Regulated "Firearms"
The NFA defines the regulated "firearms" covered by this act in Section 5845 (a) below.
(e) Any other weapon. The term 'any
other weapon' means any weapon or device capable of being concealed
on the person from which a shot can be discharged
NFA, Title II and Class III
The NFA gets referred to as Title II because it is the second section (title) of the Federal Firearms Regulations. The NFA defines different classes for importers, manufacturers and dealers. Basically, Class III is a Dealer in "Firearms" as defined above. It seems that many people refer to regulated firearms as NFA, Title II or Class III firearms and I believe these terms to all mean the same group of "firearms" above.
Back to the Review
As I was doing my research, I found that NFA firearms can be transferred to either an individual or a legal entity. A legal entity could be a corporation, LLC or trust. Of these entities, for a Georgia resident (me), the trust is the easiest to setup and maintain, so I believe that a trust would be the natural progression for an average consumer like myself. This also explains why I was recommended to get a trust in the first place. If you are a resident of another state, you will need to check your state and local requirements to see which may be the best entity for you. Before I go any further I need to say that all trusts are not equal. There are those who have setup trusts using Quicken WillMaker and it only cost them the price of the software, and there are those who have spent $2000+ in getting a gun trust in place, as well as a range of prices in between. I know there is a huge difference in these trusts because I have a copy of Quicken WillMaker and took a look at what would have been the final trust if I would have gone that route. Although I feel sure it would have been a valid trust, in my mind it was not NFA specific and I felt that I wanted a trust to have clear language addressing potential NFA issues.
Why am I hung up on wanting language that may be NFA specific? The thought of myself or family members (huge point here) spending ten years in federal prison, fines up to $250,000, seizure of vehicles used to transport the illegally possessed NFA items, seizure of all of my non-NFA firearms, and the chance of losing rights to own or possess any firearms was motivation enough to get me hung up.
My next point is that you should do your research and find an attorney that specializes in doing NFA Gun Trust. Again, I'm sure that any attorney can set you up with a trust, but the question is how NFA specific will it be if they don't have experience setting up that type of trust. When I did my online search, I found several law firms that set up NFA Gun Trusts in Georgia. I reviewed their websites and contacted three for pricing. In the end, I selected The Kim Firm, LLC to do my NFA Gun Trust.
There were several reasons I selected The Kim Firm, LLC, and I have tried to list them in order of what I considered to be important to me.
The table below is my attempt to compare the items I considered when looking at registering ownership as an Individual versus NFA Gun Trust. In summary, the reduced hassle of no CLEO signature, invasive individual background check, finger print cards and passport photos, coupled with the flexibility of adding others to the NFA Gun Trust, and finally the peace of mind I will get from knowing my family is protected from accidentally breaking the laws was enough to justify the price of the Georgia compliant NFA Gun Trust.
Process of Setting Up the Georgia compliant NFA Gun Trust with The Kim Firm, LLC
From the time I sent the initial email (Sunday night) until I had a signed my NFA Gun Trust (Thursday) was about 4 days. Everything was done via phone calls and emails except the final signatures executing the NFA Gun Trust which were done in person at the Kim Firm. It would have been possible for me to execute the NFA Gun Trust on my own by getting witnesses and going to a notary, but I wanted some face to face time with Jin H. Kim, Esq., and his office was only about 45 minutes away.
The process went like this:
Looking back on the whole experience, it was much simpler and faster than I had ever expected.
What did I get?
What does the NFA Gun Trust cover?
I have tried to outline below as much as I could about what is covered in the NFA Gun Trust I received from the Kim Firm. Believe me, there are many parts that I had to read several times before I was able to understand what was being said and in a couple of cases I still needed it explained because I didn't understand the legal terminology. Also keep in mind that the foundation or mechanisms of the NFA Gun Trust are based on those you would find in most comprehensively written trust documents. So what does my trust cover?
It has many other features and protections of traditional trusts in place to protect you, your family and your assets. My half a page above was translated from 16 pages of single space text which makes up the body of my individually tailored Georgia compliant NFA Gun Trust. Believe me when I say I have watered it down, but I hope you get a flavor for the structure of the trust and how it is tailored to be NFA specific in certain areas.
Form 4 Trust Specific Information
Now that I have a NFA Gun Trust, how did it get used when the Dealer filled out the Form 4? After all my discussions, research, and actually going through a transfer, these are the Trust related items that you need to pay specific attention to when the dealer fills out your Form 4.
One Week Later
From the time I first discussed the possibility of a NFA Gun Trust at C3 Defense, one week later I was sitting back at their office getting the paperwork done for one of their 300 Blackout suppressors and one of their Rimfire suppressors. I walked in with a couple of copies of my trust, a checkbook, and that was it. No photos, fingerprint cards, background checks or CLEO signature required. They filled out the paperwork, I checked it, signed it, and they sent if off. It couldn't have been much simpler than that. Now comes the agonizing wait (which at the time of this review is 6.5 months normally) for the approval by the BATFE for registration of ownership and transfer from C3 Defense to my NFA Gun Trust. Below is a time line of how long it took to process my paperwork, which ended up being a mess.
The lengthy duration of getting my paperwork completed on these two suppressors was due to several things. The first was the confusion on the word "The" in the heading on the first page of my trust. The agent interpreted this as the word "The" was part of the trust name and my paperwork didn't have the word "The" so she kicked it back. Next, C3 Defense was going through some rough times is no longer a firearms manufacturer and I believe my paperwork was delayed significantly on their end. After talking with the AFT agent, I found out the ATF sent an error letter and final notice letter to C3 and then a final notice letter to me. Last, there was another round of error letters because of the change in business address for C3 Defense. Honestly this was a mess and I thought for months I wasn't going to get the suppressors. In the end, it all worked out. I learned a couple of lessons here. First you should purchase your NFA items from someone who you think will still be around for awhile. Next, the actual costs of these value line suppressors didn't seem like much compared to the time, effort, worry and tax money spent on trying to get them. In the future I will pay more attention to specifications and features on NFA items than the purchase price.
After going through the experience with the Kim Firm, considering legal issues, and understanding the protection a NFA Gun Trust gives you and your family, I highly recommend that you consider setting up a NFA Gun Trust before your next Class III purchase. If you plan on multiple Class III purchases, I feel the time and money you pay for the NFA Gun trust is a wise investment that will pay off for the rest of your life. Also, once you possess your NFA items, the value you get from your family and your friends being able to legally try out and enjoy your NFA items may be priceless (or at least save someone $250,000). As long as you have a copy of your NFA Gun Trust in your car, you are not only properly protected from possible violations of NFA possession but are also properly armed to make an impulse buy the next time you are out looking at NFA related firearms and accessories. For some of you, setting up a NFA Gun Trust, Corporation or LLC may be the only way to purchase a Class III item because your local CLEO will not sign your paperwork. Whatever the reason you have for setting up a NFA Gun Trust, do your research and make sure you are getting a NFA Gun Trust that is tailored for your individual situation and includes the necessary NFA specific protective provisions. Based on my experience with The Kim Firm, LLC, due to Jin H. Kim, Esq’s., experience, knowledge and his law firm’s personalized customer service, if you live in Georgia, I would definitely recommend giving them a call.