On January 4, 2015, the ATF issued its proposed Final Rule Change for proposal 41P, now called 41F, which will directly affect the process of submitting applications for NFA items through gun trusts. The rule may be viewed here.
The proposed rule that was published has been in process for nearly two years. I do not find it coincidental that it was released with President Obama’s announcement for other executive actions on gun control. My thoughts are that this rule sat on the shelf for those years and was rushed in an effort to meet the press deadline. For that reason, there are a number of issues that are inconsistent in their current form, and may need clarification or revision in the future. Regardless, here are the major points that we are able to garner at this time:
THE EFFECTIVE DATE IS JULY 13, 2016
The ATF's new regulations for gun trusts have been published in the Federal Register as of January 15, 2016. This means that the new regulations will take effect on July 13, 2016. You may still submit your applications to the ATF under the current rules, and I suggest doing so as soon as possible. You need to leave enough lead time for your application to go pending. If your dealer is requiring you to start complying with the rule before it is implemented, find another dealer.
CLEO SIGN-OFF HAS BEEN CHANGED TO CLEO NOTIFICATION
This is actually a good thing for gun owners. Under the current law in Louisiana, the sheriff was not required to sign-off, so your application could have sat on his desk indefinitely. The exact form of notification appears to be a copy of your Form 1 or 4 and a copy of the new Form 2320.23 entitled “Responsible Person Questionnaire” for each “responsible person” in the trust.
This is a major change to the process. For the purposes of a gun trust, “Responsible Persons” will be the trustees. All Responsible Persons for a trust will have to submit fingerprints, a photograph, a Form 2320.23 (Responsible Person Questionnaire), to the ATF and give notification to CLEO. BENEFICIARIES ARE NOT CONSIDERED RESPONSIBLE PERSONS. These new requirements are eased by the 24 month rollover period.
24 MONTH ROLLOVER PERIOD*
The proposed rule states that if the trust has had an application approved in the prior 24 months, it may make a certification that there has been no change in documentation, and the trustees will not have to resubmit the fingerprints, photograph, or questionnaire. For example: Assuming that the proposed rule is enacted over the summer, and you decide to make a purchase in October 2016, each responsible party will have to submit to the new requirements (fingerprints, photos, questionnaire and CLEO notification). That information will be kept on file with the ATF for 24 months after the approval of the application, and as long as no changes are made to the trust, any new application during that period will not require the responsible parties to resubmit the fingerprints, photos, questionnaire and CLEO notification. This provision makes the pill a bit easier to swallow.
*As of 2/5/16, the ATF may have backpedaled on the language of 41F, by asserting that fingerprints and photographs will be required with all NFA applications submitted after July 13, 2016. This information is based on an alleged private meeting between the ATF, the ASA, and Silencer Shop, and has not been made public by the ATF, itself. Thus, the credibility of these statements remains in question at this time. I will keep you posted as this develops.
ADDING RESPONSIBLE PERSONS NOT PROHIBITED
At this time, the proposed final rule does not place a prohibition on adding responsible persons to your trust after items are purchased. As it currently stands, one could establish a trust, make a purchase, receive approval, and subsequently add trustees without incident. Whether this feature will remain is unclear, so it’s something to watch.
NO RETROACTIVE APPLICATION
All trusts and trust purchases made prior to implementation will not be required to resubmit information. If you already have applications that are pending with the ATF, or have already received your tax stamps, you don’t need to do anything. This is extremely important- If you can get your purchases underway prior to implementation you may be able to skip all of the new requirements.
The logistics of your purchases will change, but not to an unmanageable degree. Photographs are easy to obtain with your own camera and printer, or visiting a local drug store. FBI Forms FD-258 for fingerprints can be obtained at your local sheriff’s station or via the state police for roughly $10 a form. It would be conceivable for trustees to simply gather multiple copies of photographs and fingerprints for current and future purchases. The “Responsible Person Questionnaire” will be a form document available on the ATF website, and I expect that there will be a CLEO notification form as well. When viewed in detail, the new requirements may be inconvenient, but they are far from being insurmountable.
Now that the process requires more interaction and coordination between trustees to make a purchase, a small user pool is advisable. Depending on the number of trustees on your trust, it may be time to consider how many are really necessary and how many could be removed or made beneficiaries.
WHY USE A TRUST IN LIGHT OF THE NEW RULES?
For many, the main benefits of using a gun trust were avoiding administrative requirements. The outlook for those benefits is grim, but the other benefits of a gun trust remain intact. For a single individual who has absolutely no intention of ever sharing or passing on their NFA items, a gun trust may not be the best fit. That said, for the vast majority of people wishing to create a pool of users for their NFA items, ensure an estate plan for their family, and forgo the necessity of submitting fingerprints, photos, and questionnaires with every purchase, a gun trust is still the best method to make purchases. Because all applicants (individuals and trustees) are initially required to submit to the same rules, there is no reason not to apply through a gun trust and allow yourself, and your family and friends, the maximum benefits under law.
The changes that have been in process are fast approaching. This is not a death knell for NFA ownership. A gun trust is still the best choice for law-abiding gun owners to apply for NFA items, as it offers the most flexibility in application, ownership, and long term estate planning.
That said, there is still time to act without having to deal with the impending administrative hassles. If you have been on the fence or are considering making purchases through a gun trust, the clock is now officially ticking. If the “panic” of years past is any indication, NFA items will be bought up quickly and dealers will begin running out of stock. Don’t get caught in the mad rush just before implementation- Establish and make use of your gun trust today.
- Austin Clancy and Joseph Cataldie
This past Sunday afternoon, I ran to my local indoor gun range to poke holes in paper and knock over some steel. As usual, I brought my carry pistol, and a suppressor for it.
I was shooting alone on one side of the range for a while, and a small group came in and set up about four lanes down from me. Because of my amplified, electronic ear-muffs, eavesdropping was unavoidable, and I quickly ascertained that they were a family, consisting of Mom, Dad, and a college-age daughter. They seemed like nice folks, and were all having a good time. The purpose of their outing was apparently to teach the daughter how to shoot a handgun, which I thought was really cool- Mom and Dad teaching their daughter to protect herself with a firearm.
From my peripheral vision, I saw a large silhouette target move out to about 7 feet on their lane, and I could hear the father giving instructions on safety, sight alignment, grip, etc. Everything he was telling her was legitimate and they both sounded excited.
Then, BOOOMMM! I heard (and felt) what sounded like a 45ACP. I glanced down to the silhouette and there was a single hole in the 10-ring. I could hear Mom and Dad giggling because their daughter had done so well on her first shot. BOOOMMM! Another hole in the 10 ring, nearly touching the first one. “Not too shabby,” I thought, for a first-time shooter! Then I heard something that made me kind of sad...
“I don’t want to shoot anymore. It's scary. It’s too powerful,” the daughter said.
The Dad had set the daughter up with a subcompact 1911 as her first gun to shoot and it was too much for her to handle. In all likelihood, he was operating under the archaic mentality of trying to put a smaller gun into a woman’s hand, rather than starting her off with a full size gun, or a smaller caliber, that may give less recoil and therefore ease the new shooter into things. I don’t blame him. It’s kind of how I was taught, and it’s probably how he was taught. Unfortunately, the indoor report, concussion and recoil of that larger caliber, smaller framed pistol was over-powering for the daughter, and she was completely turned off to shooting.
I tried to mind my own business and keep shooting for a while, but whenever I would step back from my lane, I could see that Dad was disappointed, though still shooting some, and Mom and daughter were sitting down, a little glum, and basically just watching him.
I decided to conduct a social experiment. I screwed on my suppressor and loaded up a few mags with subsonic ammo. We were the only people on that side of the range and I had been banging away with my 9mm, unsuppressed, so I figured this may attract some attention. I thumped off about 10 rounds (THUMP, THUMP, THUMP…) and paused.
I could hear whispers from down the way, “… silencer?...”
“Yep!” I pounced on the opportunity, “You want to check it out?” I said to the Dad.
"Sure!” he replied and came down to my lane.
The Dad finished off the magazine and had that “I-can’t-believe-how-awesome-that-was!” ear-to-ear smile on his face that literally everyone gets the first time they shoot a weapon suppressed.
I produced another full magazine, and with the Dad’s permission, offered it up to the Mom and daughter. I could tell the daughter was interested but was hesitant, and probably didn’t full trust Dad, as he tried to convince her to give it a go. Mom had no reservations, though, and came skipping over to take a few shots, which made for the second “I-can’t-believe-how-awesome-that-was!” ear-to-ear smile!
With a slight push, Mom convinced the daughter to come over. I could see she was initially intimidated by the size of the pistol and the suppressor on the end of it, so I let her Dad talk her through the first shots-
THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP!
And of course, a third, “I-can’t-believe-how-awesome-that-was!” ear-to-ear, glowing smile!
The daughter, who moments earlier had been completely turned off by a conventional, unsuppressed pistol was having fun, and was excited about shooting again!
This is one of the greatest aspects of shooting with suppressors- the ability to ease in novice, and first-time shooters. Guns don’t have to be loud, concussive, and uncomfortable to shoot. Suppressors not only reduce the report of firearms, they also reduce muzzle flash and felt recoil, making for a much more enjoyable shooting experience.
If you are interested in learning more about the legal aspects of suppressor ownership, please contact me with any questions.
- Joseph Cataldie
In 2014, Louisiana lawmakers passed legislation allowing the use of sound suppressors for hunting all legal game animals, in addition to nuisance species, such as feral hogs. Here are 10 reasons why you should be hunting with a can.
1. Hearing Protection: Noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus are two of the most common afflictions for recreational shooters, hunters, police, and our soldiers. Suppressors reduce the noise of a gunshot by an average of 20 – 35 dB, which is roughly the same as earplugs or earmuffs. By decreasing the overall sound signature, suppressors help to preserve hearing.
2. Recoil Reduction: Suppressors work by evenly diffusing and decelerating the explosive gases that leave the muzzle of the gun when fired. This reduction in pressure translates to less felt recoil for the shooter, meaning more enjoyable shooting time.
3. Staying on Target: If you've ever zeroed a high caliber rifle, you've probably experienced the phenomenon of the rifle jumping completely off the target after each round, leaving you to search around and reorient the reticle back on target. This isn't a major issue on a flat range with a static target, but if you're trying to bag a trophy buck, the stakes are increased. The reduced recoil and added weight of the suppressor allow you to get back on target much more quickly, so you can be sure you've ethically taken down your kill.
4. Increased Accuracy: There's a reason that competitive distance shooters use suppressors- Accuracy. There's plenty of data to support the fact that cans equal tighter groups. I don't know about you, but I'll take all the help that I can get!
5. Introducing New Shooters: It's no secret that the political climate is rocky at best for gun owners. The only way to preserve our way of life is by introducing new shooters to our culture. The report and recoil of the gun may be second nature to you, but new shooters are often on edge wondering if they can handle it when it's their turn to shoot. Suppressors are a great way to reduce that fear and ease the shooter into the sport. You'll spend less time getting them over that initial hurdle and spend more time focusing on procedure and technique.
6. Location Concealment: Who wouldn't like to increase their chances for multiple kills? Without a suppressor, one shot will give away your position and your hunt is likely done for the day. Suppressors reduce your sound signature to an extent that you can take big boar that keeps wandering in front of you, with less worry about scaring off the whitetail you've been scouting all year.
7. Etiquette: This ties in with location concealment. We all know what opening day of gun season sounds like, with other hunters taking shots all around you- some who are closer than you may have realized. Using a suppressor to reduce the rifle's report is a courtesy that will mean everyone taking home more game.
8. Not Everyone Likes Guns: It's a fact. There are plenty of folks that live in the country who are not fans of having others discharging firearms around their homes. This goes back to our responsibility as gun owners. Give these folks a break- use a suppressor and they may become a bit more friendly.
9. Technology and Affordability: With the growth in popularity of suppressors and other NFA items, there has never been a better time to own a suppressor. The market is driving new, innovative designs and making that first step into suppressor ownership easier and more affordable than ever!
10. Simplified Purchasing and Ownership: NFA Gun Trusts have made purchasing and owning a suppressor easier than ever for law-abiding civilians. Gone are the days of crossing your fingers and hoping that your local sheriff is pro-2nd Amendment, or not being able to entrust a family member with your suppressor. Plus, over 40 states currently allow ownership of suppressors! There has never been a better time to step into the realm of NFA ownership!
Contact attorney Joseph Cataldie today for more information on establishing an NFA Gun Trust.