New Mexico NFA Firearm (Gun) Trusts
NFA refers to the National Firearms Act which regulates the possession and ownership of certain types of firearms. The NFA is referred to as Title II of the federal firearms laws, while the Gun Control Act of 1968 is Title I. NFA weapons include machine guns, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, silencers, destructive devices (grenades, bombs, or weapons with a higher caliber than .50 except for certain shotguns), and any other weapons (like pen guns, cane guns, etc.).
The purchase and ownership of these NFA weapons are required to be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (commonly referred to as the “ATF” or “BATFE”). Typically, individual owners wanting an NFA item will have to get a background check done and submit fingerprints, as well as obtain the signature of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) of their home town. The CLEO is usually the chief of police for the town or city of residence of the gun owner, or the county sheriff. Ownership of NFA weapons (also referred to as “Title II” or “Class III” firearms) is also regulated by state law. New Mexico for example, doesn’t restrict the ownership of any of the above weapons unlike other states (such as California).
Please note that “Class III” actually refers to the type of license that a FFL dealer must possess to sell “Title II” weapons; we find that customers use this terminology interchangeably. An individual must register a Title II firearm by submitting fingerprint and background information, as well as obtain authorization from the CLEO each time the gun owner wishes to acquire a new Title II item. A NFA gun trust becomes an attractive alternative. Using a NFA gun trust allows weapons to be registered without the need of the CLEO signature or the background check and fingerprinting requirements; This is especially important in areas where the CLEO refuses to sign for Title II weapons, as is common in many communities throughout the country where the general public is decidedly “anti-gun”.
A trust separates title of property (the firearms) into two parts; simply put there is a beneficiary, and a trustee. The trustee manages the property for the benefit of the beneficiary. Initially, the trustee and the beneficiary are the same person. A NFA gun trust allows the trustee to possess the Title II items and hold those items for the benefit of the named beneficiaries. A NFA gun trust has special provisions and instructions to guide the trustee regarding the transport of Title II weapons between states. Standard NFD gun trusts also have clauses that prevent the trustee from ever allowing a prohibited person (as defined under federal firearms laws, which includes minors and felons) from coming into possession of Title II weapons.
Another advantage of a NFA firearms trust is that there can be more than one trustee. Often husband and wife will be co-trustees of the NFA gun trust, which allows either party to possess the Title II weapons. In addition to having more than one trustee, a gun trust can designate who will receive the items in the trust after the death of the trust creator and or beneficiaries.
Because the penalties for wrongful possession of a Title II firearm are very severe (up to a $250,000 fine and possible jail time), it is important to have a trust agreement that comports with the laws of the state in which you reside; ATF must approve of the form of the gun trust as part of a Title II weapon transfer. Please note that many lawyers sell gun trusts over the internet (but are often only licensed in one state), it is wise to use a local lawyer that can certify that the trust is okay with regard to your state law; we suggest that you either have a local attorney review the trust, or even better, have a local attorney draft the trust. Our gun trust lawyers can help you create a New Mexico NFA Gun Trust today. Contact us for more information or to start the process.