What is a Gun Trust?
A gun trust is just like a regular legal trust (a living trust - one created during the Creator's lifetime, as opposed to a Testamentary Trust- one created at the Creator's death) but it is specifically designed for the acquisition and ownership of NFA firearms. Gun trusts gained popularity because they make registration of NFA firearms with the ATF easier than the registration process as an individual, and they act as effective estate planning tools for the passing along of firearms after the creator's death. Gun trusts have made the registration process with the ATF so much easier that the number of applications to the ATF for the ownership of NFA firearms has skyrocketed from about 40,000 applications in 2005 to over 235,000 applications in 2014.
Why Do People Use a Gun Trust?
People use gun trusts to apply to own NFA firearms with the ATF because when you form a gun trust and apply for the ownership of a NFA firearms through that trust you do not have to submit a passport-style photograph, FBI fingerprint samples, or obtain a signature of approval from the Chief Law Enforce Officer (CLEO) in your area. If you applied as an individual you would have to include all of those things in your application. Instead, with a gun trust you simply attach a copy of your gun trust with the ATF application, fill out the other pertinent information such as the type of NFA firearm you are purchasing and then you just wait for approval.
People also prefer gun trusts because the possession of NFA firearms is so highly regulated, and subject to such stiff penalties (felony), that a gun trust protects gun owners and their loved ones from being at risk of committing a felony. When someone purchases a silencer or fully automatic firearm, that person may want to show the weapon to friends or loved ones, or take it to a shooting range with them. But NFA firearms are so heavily regulated that any individual who is in possession of the NFA firearm who has not themselves registered with the ATF would be at risk of committing a felony just by touching the NFA firearm or otherwise being alone with it (constructive possession). With a gun trust, if you have certain people who you anticipate you will want to be able to shoot the NFA firearm with you, then you can list them as trustees in order to make them legally entitled to the possession of that NFA firearm. Furthermore, the Secure Gun Trust offers protection to your designated beneficiaries by providing that your NFA firearms that are held in the trust do not pass to those beneficiaries after your death until they themselves have registered with the ATF to become eligible recipients of the firearms. This prevents your beneficiaries from unknowingly committing a felony just by having inherited NFA firearms.
What Makes the Secure Gun Trust Special?
The Secure Gun Trust was written from scratch by an attorney specifically for the purpose of acquiring and owning NFA firearms. The Secure Gun Trust includes language referencing the pertinent federal gun laws (the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act of 1968). The Secure Gun Trust has built in protective measures. The federal gun laws that regulate the use and ownership of silencers and fully automatic machine guns specifically prohibit certain kinds of people from owning those weapons. These people include: people who have committed felonies, who have mental illness, who are addicted to drugs, who have committed domestic violence, and other prohibited persons. If you have a trustee that originally was in compliance with all the required laws, and then subsequently commits or is convicted of an act that prevents them from being able to be in possession of an NFA firearm, then the Secure Gun Trust provides that the trustee must resign. This protects the trust from being invalidated. The Secure Gun also protects your intended beneficiaries, as mentioned above.