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ATF FAQs Change

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You may have seen posts and videos about a recent change to ATF’s FAQs page. It seems to suggest that if you have obtained an NFA item in your name, that you cannot permit anyone else to shoot it, even if they’re standing right next to you.
It also seems to suggest that even if you applied for that weapon using a gun trust, that only those persons you listed as “responsible persons” on your AFT Form 4 or Form 1 can ever possess that particular item in the future.
There are posts circulating that suggest someone called the NFA Branch and asked about this change and were told it is not correct, but I would not be at all surprised if they were truly headed in this direction.
However, this has been a significant concern to me over the years, because the NFA does not define what the term “loan” or the act of “loaning a weapon” means. Where the dictionary says a loan is simply the grant of permission to use something, they could potentially attempt to enforce it this way, in particular where a weapon is registered to an individual and not a trust.
I do not agree with the suggestion that “only Responsible Person(s) listed on the approved registration (your approved Form 4 or Form 1) may have physical or constructive possession of the NFA item.” The ATF has no authority to regulate your ability to amend your trust (or LLC or corporation). They cannot stop you from amending your trust to add cotrustees after an application has been approved.
In addition, lifetime beneficiaries of a trust have a legal right to the use and enjoyment of trust assets, so by making someone a lifetime beneficiary of my trust should legally extend that use of an NFA weapon to someone shooting with me.
If the ATF is truly trying to place such restrictions on trust ownership of these weapons, they are trying to rewrite centuries of trust law, once again without any authority to do so. However, this issue underscores the very significant benefit of trust ownership of NFA weapons to ensure that others can share in their use, as it tends to evidence where ATF is likely headed in their future enforcement of the law.
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