What is the National Firearms Act?

If you can legally own a gun, you can legally own a machine gun. Yes, really. Federal law says that you can!

The National Firearms Act (“NFA”) governs the purchase and possession of certain types of firearms, namely:

    • Silencers (commonly called “suppressors” or “cans”)
    • Short barreled rifles (barrel length is shorter than 16 inches or has an overall length shorter than 26 inches)
    • Short barreled shotguns (barrel length is shorter than 18 inches or has an overall length shorter than 26 inches)
    • Machine Guns (fully automatic, selective fire, firing more than one shot per trigger pull)
    • Destructive Devices (bombs, grenades, rockets, missiles, mines, firearms [other than shotguns] that has a barrel with a bore larger than 1/2 inch and is not particularly suitable for sporting purposes, such as cannons, mortars, and rocket launchers)
    • Another Other Weapons (AOW – this is a “catch-all” for other items that do not fit neatly within one of the other categories. Common examples include pen guns, cane guns, umbrella guns, and knife guns.)

Congress originally passed the NFA in 1934. It was revised somewhat in the Gun Control Act of 1968 and again in 1986 in the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act. Congress regulates theses types of weapons, all of which are considered “firearms” in the law, pursuant to their Constitutional ability to tax, as provided for in Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. That may seem strange, however, courts have provided that Congress can regulate anything that it has the ability to tax. Since Congress has the ability to tax the manufacturing and sale of guns, it can therefore regulate them. Individual states may place additional regulations and restrictions on what NFA items may be owned or brought into the state, although most states do allow NFA firearms in some fashion.

So Can I Own NFA Firearms?

Yes, if you can legally own a gun in Arizona, you can legally own NFA firearms. You don’t need a license and there are no annual fees or taxes to own these types of weapons, but you do need ATF approval BEFORE you can possess them. There are three primary avenues to own NFA items:

    1. Individually – You can go to a dealer who deals in NFA items and simply buy the item in your name. Doing so requires you to submit fingerprints and get Chief Law Enforcement Officer approval (CLEO). You own the item by yourself and no one else is permitted to possess the weapon. Problems arise when you die or become disabled because no one else is allowed to possess the weapon legally. Another tremendous problem with individual ownership arises when you live with other people, even your own spouse and children. Since your spouse and children do not own the NFA weapon, they cannot possess or use it, even in your presence. In fact, if your spouse knows the combination to your gun safe, he or she may be committing a felony by constructively possessing a NFA weapon. Additionally, you also may be committing a felony by permitting an unauthorized transfer of a NFA weapon.
    2. Through a Business Entity – A business entity (Corporation, LLC, or Partnership) can own NFA weapons, however, this business entity must exist for the sole purpose of purchasing and possessing firearms. The Articles of Incorporation (if a Corporation), Articles of Organization (if a LLC), or Partnership Agreement (if a partnership) must properly detail how the firearms are to be purchased possessed, stored, and used. Officers of the business organization can possess the weapon legally. No fingerprint checks or CLEO approval are needed, however, the business must file all required documents to the state Corporation Commissioner or Secretary of State (depending on which state you are in), including annual reports. Additionally, problems can arise when business partners have disagreements or when the business dissolves (for whatever reason). Furthermore, only bona fide employees of the business can possess NFA firearms, which is problematic, especially since the business entity is set up for the sole purpose of owning NFA firearms. Obviously there aren’t any bona fide employees, though of course there are the business owners. LLC’s may be subject to probate.
    3. Through a Revocable Trust – A trust can own NFA weapons and is the ideal avenue for ownership. No fingerprint checks or CLEO approval are needed, neither are there any required state registration or reporting requirements. A trust can permit your family to possess the weapons removing the potential constructive felony mentioned above. Also, a properly crafted trust provides for appropriate transfers of the weapons in the event that you die or become disabled, and can exist for multiple generations (thereby eliminating the need for any legal transfers since the trust is the legal owner). A properly created gun trust is the best way to purchase and own NFA items. Click here to purchase your own NFA Gun Trust from Online Gun Trust today.

Now I Know That a Gun Trust Is the Best Way to Own NFA Firearms and Devices, Now What?

You need to decide which gun trust version is best for you. We offer two gun trust versions, the Basic NFA Gun Trust, and the Advanced NFA Gun Trust. The Basic NFA Gun Trust and Advanced NFA Gun Trusts are a do-it-yourself types of trusts where you fill in the blanks and then the trust is emailed to you immediately. They are designed for married couples or individuals who have relatively simple scenarios. The Basic NFA Gun Trust will protect a firearms collection during your life, while the Advanced Gun Trusts will protect gun collections for multiple generations. For those who have more complicated scenarios, or who want to leave a firearms legacy for their children and grandchildren (or other beneficiaries) where their guns (including NFA firearms), ammunition, and firearms accessories are protected in the trust for up to 500 years, they should choose either the Advanced Gun Trust or contact us for further help. After your trust is completed and and your esignatures are complete, you are ready to shop for your NFA item from a dealer of your choice. Don’t worry though, you are not on your own, we will include detailed instructions with your trust on how to complete it, what to do with your NFA dealer, and how to submit the necessary paperwork to the BATFE. Click the button below to learn more about the options that onlineguntrust.com offers.