Governor McAuliffe announces he will ‘expeditiously’ sign individual restoration orders

Gov_SigFollowing Friday’s decision by the Virginia Supreme Court striking down Governor McAuliffe’s blanket restoration of political rights, Governor McAuliffe was quick to issue an official response.

For those clients who need their voting rights restoration in order to apply for restoration of their firearm rights, the Governor’s response contained some good news.

He stated that “The men and women whose voting rights were restored by my executive action should not be alarmed. I will expeditiously sign nearly 13,000 individual orders to restore the fundamental rights of the citizens who have had their rights restored and registered to vote. And I will continue to sign orders until I have completed restoration for all 200,000 Virginians.

It appears as if those who actually registered to vote following the April 22nd executive order should expect to quickly receive an individualized restoration from the Governor. If you fall into this category then you simply need to wait.

For those who fall into the second category of those who purportedly had their rights restored based upon the April 22nd order but did not actually register to vote the path forward is not yet clear.  While the Governor indicated he will continue to sign orders for each one until he has restored everyone, there is no indication as to whether a request may be made for expedited processing.

The Governor’s Restoration of Rights page has not yet been updated to reflect the ruling but I expect we will receive more guidance over the next few days.  I will keep my clients informed as details emerge.

Posted in Executive Orders, Gun Rights Restoration, Virginia Law, Virginia Supreme Court | Comments Off on Governor McAuliffe announces he will ‘expeditiously’ sign individual restoration orders

The Virginia Supreme Court has struck down Governor McAuliffe’s blanket restoration of political rights

VASCIn a ruling issued late today, the Virginia Supreme Court has struck down the Governor’s blanket restoration of the political rights of over 206,000 convicted felons who had completed their sentences and been released from supervised probation or parole.

The 63 page ruling, included below, will require the Virginia Department of Elections to “cancel the registration of all felons who have been invalidly registered.

While I have not yet had time to review the ruling, I can immediately imagine a number of other questions that need to be asked:

  • I have had at least one client, whose political rights were purportedly restored based upon this order, become a notary public.  What is the status of the documents that she has notarized?
  • If any person whose political rights were purportedly restored based upon this order has served upon a jury, will that cast a shadow upon any resulting verdicts?

I will refrain from asking any further questions until I have had a chance to read the entire opinion but the key question for my clients is this:

How does this impact my ability to petition for the restoration of my gun rights?

Here is the short answer … if your political rights were restored as part of the April 22nd blanket restoration then you will have to re-apply for individual restoration and wait for that individualized executive order to be issued before we can submit your petition to the courts.

The good news (assuming that there is nothing in the opinion that would prevent such action) is that Governor McAuliffe has indicated that if he were to receive this ruling that his office was prepared to quickly issue individualized restoration orders for everyone covered by his blanket order.

I will be following up as I get a chance to read the order and the Governor has a chance to respond to the ruling.

The Entire Ruling

Download (PDF, 314KB)

Posted in Executive Orders, Gun Rights Restoration, State Constitutional Provisions, Virginia Law | Comments Off on The Virginia Supreme Court has struck down Governor McAuliffe’s blanket restoration of political rights

The complete guide to the new Form 4

Filling_FormsYou swore that you would not be buying any more NFA items after 41F went into effect.

But now they have that great new suppressor down at the gun store and you have been hearing people talk about how the industry is working to minimize the impact of 41F and how you might be able to reduce the number of ‘responsible persons’ on your trust.

Let’s face it.  You are going to buy that suppressor despite 41F.  But fear not.  This guide will walk you through every step of the new Form 4 process and make it as easy as possible.

Getting Started

In almost all cases the dealer you are buying the NFA item from will already have the Form 4s with their portion completed before you arrive.  So I will only focus on those fields that need to be completed by the transferee (buyer).

FFL PRO-TIP:  If you do need a copy of the new Form 4, it is available for download from the ATF website.  If you save it to your computer and open it with Adobe Reader (rather than editing it in your browser) then it will auto-copy the data you type into the ‘ATF Copy’ to the ‘ATF Copy 2’ and the ‘CLEO Copy’.  You can also save a copy with your FFL info typed in to speed up the processing of future applications.

Form 4 – Page 1

  • Box 2a should contain the name of your trust (exactly as it appears on the header of the trust document) and the mailing address for the location where the item will initially be stored.
  • In Box 2a you should also check the box for TRUST or LEGAL ENTITY.
  • Box 2b should contain the name of the county in which the physical address from 2a is located.  Note: Virginia is one of the few states where there are independent cities that are not part of the surrounding counties. If you live in an independent city (like Alexandria for example) then put your city in 2b (e.g.  “Alexandria City”).

Form 4 – Page 2

  • Box 12 should contain the information about the applicants CLEO.
  • Box 13 should have the name of the trust in the first blank and ‘All lawful purposes‘ in the second blank.
  • Box 14, 15, 16, and 17 should be left blank.  For trust applicants, these background questions and photos will be part of a separate form for each ‘responsible person’ (Form 23) for which I will provide instructions further down in this guide.
  • However, you still must sign the Transferee Signature at the bottom of Page 2.

Form 4 – Page 3

  • Box 18 should contain the number of responsible persons on the trust.  I have a detailed article here laying out which persons on your trust are considered ‘responsible persons’ but the short answer is that you are a responsible person and so are those people listed on Schedule B of your trust.  If you want to remove joint trustees from your Schedule B before submitting your application I have a guide to doing so here.
  • Box 19 should contain your full legal name and the full legal names of all those on Schedule B of your trust.
  • Box 20 should contain your method of payment and, if you are paying with a credit card, the information about the credit card and the amount being paid.  You only need to sign in Box 20 if you are paying with a credit card.  (More about this in the signing section below)

A Completed Sample of Form 4

The following sample form illustrates what a completed Form 4 should look like.

Download (PDF, 1.12MB)

Signing the Completed Form 4

Each copy of the completed Form 4 should be signed in the following places:

  • On the bottom of Page 2 sign your name and add “as trustee” at the end.
  • Only sign on Page 3 Box 20 if you are paying with a credit card.

Important:  The ATF requires all signatures to be in either blue or black ink.

Turning to the Form 23

A copy of the new ‘responsible person’ form 5320.23 (Form 23) will need to be completed by each ‘responsible person’ of the trust listed in Box 19 of the Form 4.

Important Note:  Your fellow ‘responsible persons’ will find it much easier to complete this form if they have a copy of the completed Form 4 in front of them.  

The Form 23 may be downloaded from the ATF website. It is well designed with fillable fields which auto-transfer the data to additional copies (based upon testing, it seems that you must use Adobe Acrobat Reader for these features to work reliably).  I will instruct you where to send each copy later in this guide.

You, and the Joint Trustees listed on Schedule B of your trust, should download the form and each one complete it according to the following instructions:

Form 23 – Page 1

  • In Box 1 you should check the box for Form 4.
  • In Box 2 you should copy the trust name and address from Box 2a on the Form 4.
  • In Box 3a you should put your full legal name and your home address.
  • In Box 3b you should put your telephone number.
  • Box 3c can be left blank.
  • If you have changed your name at any time during your life, including being married, then Box 3d should contain all other names you have ever used.
  • In Box 3e you will affix a 2×2 passport-quality photo taken within the last year (on the ATF copy of the form only).  As I noted here, many NFA dealers are planning to offer in-store photography options so you should check with your local gun store.  Failing that, Walgreens is a common provider of this service in many towns.
  • In Box 4a, you should copy the type-of-firearm from Box 4b of the Form 4.
  • In Box 4b you should copy the name and location from Box 4a of the Form 4.
  • In Box 4c you should copy the model from Box 4d of the Form 4.
  • In Box 4d you should copy the caliber and UOM from Box 4c of the Form 4.
  • In Box 4e you should copy the serial number from Box Box 4g of the Form 4.
  • Box 5 should contain the information regarding the CLEO whose jurisdiction includes the home address in Box 3a of this form.

Form 23 – Page 2

  • You will need to answer the questions in Boxes 6, 7, and 8 as they apply to you, the person completing the form.  In the example below, I am completing them as I personally would answer them but you will need to answer them truthfully as they apply to you!
  • Note: If you have been convicted of a felony but have since had your gun rights restored then the instructions state you should answer question 6b as ‘No’.  However, I strongly advise you to attach a copy of your restoration paperwork to the Form 23 when submitting it to the ATF.
  • You will sign the certification following Box 8.  (More about this in the signing section below)
  • You should enter the date in the field to the right of the signature block.

A Completed Sample of Form 23

The following sample form illustrates what a completed form should look like.

Download (PDF, 928KB)

Printing The Completed Form 23

Once you have completed the Form 23, you will need to print it.  It will print 2 copies.  You should now affix your photo to the ATF copy of the Form 23 only. (DO NOT USE STAPLES)

Signing the Completed Form 23

The only place you will need to sign the Form 23 is following the certification statement below Box 8.  You do NOT add “as trustee” to your signature on this form.

Do not forget to sign both copies of the Form 23.

Important:  The ATF requires all signatures to be in either blue or black ink.

Notifying Your CLEO

The Settlor of the trust will need to mail his or her CLEO (From Box 5 of the Form 23) the CLEO copy of the Form 4 and the CLEO copy of their Form 23.

All other responsible persons will only need to mail his or her CLEO (From Box 5 of their Form 23) the CLEO copy of their Form 23.

Important Note:  The CLEO copy of the Form 23 does not have a photo affixed.  You should also not send fingerprint cards to the CLEO.

Fingerprint Cards

Each Form 23 to be sent to the ATF will need to be accompanied by fingerprints of the responsible person taken on 2 FBI (FD-258) fingerprint cards.  As I noted here, many NFA dealers are planning to offer in-store fingerprinting so you should check with your local gun store.  Failing that, you should be able to get fingerprinted at your local law enforcement agency.  No matter who does the fingerprinting, you should make sure that they use the correct FD-258 cards.

Mailing the Completed Form 4 Packet to the ATF

Now we need to prepare the packet to mail to the ATF.  Note that If you are building more than one NFA item, you will need a separate packet for each item.

This packet should include:

  • The first 2 copies of the completed Form 4 printed front and back as noted above with original signatures in blue or black ink on both copies.  (These are marked ATF Copy and ATF Copy 2 on the bottom of the forms)
  • The ATF Copy of the Form 23 for each responsible person of the trust with photos affixed and fingerprint cards included. (DO NOT STAPLE)
  • A single copy of your notarized trust instrument (including all schedules)
  • Payment for the amount of the tax ($200) payable to BATFE (unless you entered credit card info on the Form 4)

The entire packet should be mailed to:

National Firearms Act Branch
BATFE
P.O. Box 530298
Atlanta, GA 30353-0298

If this guide leaves any questions unanswered, please feel free to contact me.

Posted in 41F, 41P, BATFE, CLEO Notification, Fingerprinting, Form 23, Form 4, NFA Transfers, NFA Trusts | Comments Off on The complete guide to the new Form 4

Purchasing a firearm after your gun rights have been restored following a mental health adjudication

Confusing_DirectionsIn Virginia, there are a number of mental health adjudications that can lead to a prohibition on the right to purchase, possess, and transport firearms.

These include the following:

All four categories allow for a person thus impacted to petition the General District Court in the jurisdiction where they reside for restoration of their gun rights after they have recovered from the issue which gave rise to the adjudication.

If you have had your gun rights restored following one of the aforementioned mental health adjudications then you are able to once again legally purchase firearms, both in private transactions and from a licensed dealer.

However, there is a question on the ATF Form 4473 which you must answer correctly or your purchase will be denied.

When completing this form, question 11f asks “Have you ever been adjudicated mentally defective (which includes a determination by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that you are a danger to yourself or to others or are incompetent to manage your own affairs) OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?

4473-11f

Your initial inclination would be to answer ‘Yes’ since this is truthful answer to the question presented. But that is not what you should do.

The question goes on to suggest that you see the attached instructions. There we find that there are exceptions.  However, on the current version of the 4473, none of the enumerated exceptions would apply to those who have had their rights restored at the state level.

2012-11f-Exception

This is a perplexing and infuriating omission on the part of the ATF.  Under the NICS Improvement Act of 2007, when a state court grants a qualified relief petition, the adjudication or commitment that rendered the person ineligible to possess or acquire firearms is “deemed not to have occurred” for purposes of federal law (see § 105(b) of the NICS Improvement Act of 2007)

The ATF is currently working in a new version of the 4473 and they apparently noticed the omission because they have corrected the exception language in the as-of-yet unapproved version of the 4473.

2016-11f-Exception

But regardless of whether or not the exception is mentioned in the instructions, a person who has had his or her firearm rights restored by a qualified state process may answer ‘No’ to question 11f on the ATF form 4473 when applying to purchase a firearm.

However, to insure that there could never be a question about the honesty or intent of the applicant, I advise my clients to answer the question ‘No‘ and then put ‘Rights Restored‘ in the margin beside the question.

In Virginia, there is also a state form (SP65) which you will have to complete in addition to the ATF form 4473. Question 9 on the state form asks a similar question but erroneously does not list the exceptions. The Virginia State Police have asked that applicants answer ‘No’ to question 9 and then write ‘Rights Restored’ in the margin beside the question.

When I assist a client in getting their rights restored, I always send a copy of the court order to the Virginia State Police Firearms Transaction Center.  However, even if they have a copy of your restoration order, you may be delayed when attempting to make a purchase.

Even with your rights restored, you should know that you may be delayed when attempting to make a purchase.  In case there is ever any question, I would also strongly suggest carrying a copy of the restoration order with you both when you apply for, and when picking up, the firearm.

Finally, I want to reiterate that, while this restoration removes both your federal and Virginia disabilities, it does not necessarily remove the prohibitions in any other state. Before possessing a firearm in any state other than Virginia you should consult with an attorney licensed to practice law in that state to determine whether that state has a prohibition that would apply to your situation, whether that state recognizes gun rights restoration proceedings from other states and, if so, whether Virginia’s process meets their requirements.


Disclaimer:  This information is presented for educational purposes only and does not give rise to an attorney-client relationship. Additionally, I am licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia and this answer is specific to Virginia.

Posted in 4473, ATF, BATFE, Criminal Law, Federal Law, Gun Rights Restoration, Mental Health, Virginia Law | Comments Off on Purchasing a firearm after your gun rights have been restored following a mental health adjudication

Can you own body armor after having your gun rights restored?

Body_ArmorBecause of the imperfect intersection of local, state, and federal laws, there are a number of legal questions that arise when a felon has their gun rights restored.

Today’s question is whether a person who was convicted of a felony and subsequently had their gun rights restored can purchase or possess body armor.

The legal answer (as always) is “maybe.

Let’s start with the standard disclaimer that I am only licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia and nothing I say should be considered valid in any other jurisdiction.

Under Virginia Law

Turning first to the state level.  Under Virginia law, there is no prohibition on the purchase or possession of body armor by convicted felons regardless of whether or not a person has had their gun rights restored.

In fact, there is only a single code section which even mentions body armor and that is §18.2-287.2 which prohibits the wearing of body armor while committing a crime.

Since I am assuming that the questions from my clients involve using the body armor for lawful purposes then there is no bar at the state level.

Under Federal Law

Under federal law, the relevant prohibition is at 18 U.S. Code § 931.  This statute prohibits the purchase, ownership, or possession of body armor by anyone who has been convicted of a ‘crime of violence’.

There is a single exception for those who have written documentation from his or her employer that “the … purchase, use, or possession of body armor was necessary for the safe performance of lawful business activity; and … the use and possession … were limited to the course of such performance.”

As to whether or not a specific crime is considered a ‘crime of violence’, this is defined in 18 U.S. Code § 16 which states:

The term “crime of violence” means—
(a) an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or prop­erty of another, or
(b) any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.

To return to the original question …

If you have been convicted of a felony then whether or not you have had your gun rights restored is irrelevant to the question of whether or not you may purchase or possess body armor for lawful purposes.

If your crime was a ‘crime of violence’ (as defined above) then you may not purchase, own, or possess body armor.

If your felony was anything other than a crime of violence then there is no legal bar to your purchase or possession of body armor for lawful purposes.

Posted in Body Armor, Criminal Law, Federal Law, Gun Rights Restoration, Virginia Law | Comments Off on Can you own body armor after having your gun rights restored?

The complete guide to the new Form 1

SBR_PartsIt’s time to submit a new Form 1 but July 13th has come and gone, 41F is fully in effect, and eForms, despite its tendency to crash every 15 minutes, is now nothing more than a cherished but fading memory.

But fear not.  This guide will walk you through every step of the new process and make it as easy as possible.

I should start by repeating what I said earlier … eForms is no longer available for the submission of new Form 1’s for trust applicants.  All future applications will need to be made on paper using the new Form 1 application.

This is very important!  In the past, even when the ATF released a new version of the Form 1 or Form 4, they would generally still accept applications using the older version of the form.  That is no longer the case! Any application postmarked July 13th or later that is not on the new form will be rejected!

The new blank Form 1 is available on the ATF website.  The form itself is well designed with fillable fields which auto-transfer the data to two additional copies (based upon testing, it seems that you must use Adobe Acrobat Reader for these features to work reliably).  I will instruct you where to send each copy later in this guide.

You should download the form and then complete it according to the following instructions:

Form 1 – Page 1

  • In Box 1 you should check option a.
  • In Box 2 you should check the box for TRUST or LEGAL ENTITY.
  • Box 3a should be left blank.
  • Box 3b should contain the name of your trust (exactly as it appears on the header of the trust document) and the mailing address for the location where the item will initially be stored.
  • Box 3c should be blank unless the mailing address in Box 3b is a PO Box.  In that case,  the physical address should be entered here.
  • Box 3d should contain the name of the county in which the physical address from 3b/3c is located.  Note: Virginia is one of the few states where there are independent cities that are not part of the surrounding counties. If you live in an independent city (like Alexandria for example) then put your city in 3d (e.g.  “Alexandria City”).
  • Box 3e should contain the best number at which to reach the Trustee or Settlor submitting the application.
  • Box 3f may be left blank.
  • Box 4a should contain the manufacturer’s name and the location in which it was manufactured.  It is critical that you enter them exactly as they are engraved on the lower!  However, if you have a foreign manufactured firearm, you must also be careful to identify the name and location of the original manufacturer  and not the importer (which might also be engraved on the lower).  If you are manufacturing your own suppressor, or your own SBR based on an un-serialized 80% lower, then your trust is the manufacturer and you should put the trust name, city, and state here.
  • Box 4b should contain either Silencer, Machinegun, Short-Barreled Rifle, Short-Barreled Shotgun, or Destructive Device.  There have been unconfirmed reports of the ATF rejecting applications for putting ‘Suppressor’ instead of ‘Silencer’ in this field.
  • Box 4c should contain the initial caliber of the item being built.  Do not put ‘Multi’ as the caliber even if that is what is engraved on the lower.  While you may have multiple uppers for your registered lower, you need to declare a specific primary configuration in this application and you need to retain the ability to return to this configuration. This value should contain the number and the unit of measure such as .30 Cal, 9mm, or 12 Gauge.
  • Box 4d should contain the model number of the item.  Once again, it is critical that you enter them exactly as they are engraved on the lower!  If you are manufacturing your own suppressor, or your own SBR based on an 80% lower, then you will need to assign a model name.
  • Box 4e should contain the length of the barrel in inches.  If you are building a suppressor then you should put ‘N/A’ in this field.
  • Box 4f should contain the estimated overall length of the firearm in inches.  I say estimated because you cannot assemble the firearm in advance to do precise measurements.  Having said that, the overall length should be estimated based upon an extended stock.
  • Box 4g should contain the serial number of the item.  At the risk of repeating myself, it is critical that you enter the serial number exactly as it is engraved on the lower including any alpha-numeric characters!  If you are manufacturing your own suppressor, or your own SBR based on an 80% lower, then you will need to assign a serial number.  Many people simply start with 001 and proceed in series as they build additional items.
  • Box 4h should contain the information that you are going to engrave on the NFA item (Trust Name, City, State).  I used to advise that this box be left blank but recently the ATF has been indicating that they want this completed.
  • Box 4i should be answered ‘All lawful purposes’.
  • Box 4j should be left blank unless you are actually building a Destructive Device.  I frequently get questions about this box from clients who are confused by the fact that there is a box for ‘Firearm’.  You do NOT need to check this box unless you are building a Destructive device that happens to be a firearm (Any weapon by whatever name known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, the barrel or barrels of which have a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter (.50 inches or 12.7 mm), except a shotgun or shotgun shell which the Secretary finds is generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes)
  • Box 4k should be answered ‘No’ unless you are one of the extremely rare applicants who is actually reactivating a firearm.
  • Boxes 5 and 6 should both be left blank.
  • You should sign in Box 7.  (More about this in the signing section below)
  • In Box 8, you should put your full legal name and follow it with ‘- TRUSTEE’ as the title.
  • Box 9 should contain the date the application is completed.

Form 1 – Page 2

  • Box 10 should contain the information about the applicant’s CLEO.
  • Box 11, 12, 13, and 14 should be left blank.  For trust applicants, these background questions and photos will be part of a separate form for each ‘responsible person’ (Form 23) for which I will provide instructions further down in this guide.
  • Sign and date at the bottom of Page 2.  (More about this in the signing section below)

Form 1 – Page 3

  • Box 15 should contain the number of responsible persons on the trust.  I have a detailed article here laying out which persons on your trust are considered ‘responsible persons’ but the short answer is that you are a responsible person and so are those people listed on Schedule B of your trust.  If you want to remove joint trustees from your Schedule B before submitting your application I have a guide to doing so here.
  • Box 16 should contain your full legal name and the full legal names of all those on Schedule B of your trust.
  • Box 17 should contain your method of payment and, if you are paying with a credit card, the information about the credit card and the amount being paid.  You only need to sign in Box 17 if you are paying with a credit card.  (More about this in the signing section below)

A Completed Sample of Form 1

The following sample form illustrates what a completed Form 1 should look like.

Download (PDF, 1.17MB)

Printing The Completed Form 1

Once you have completed the Form 1, you will need to print it.  Per the instructions on the latest version of the form, it is no long required that you print the completed form double-sided!

It will print 3 copies.  I will cover where to send each of these copies later in this guide.

Signing the Completed Form 1

Each copy of the completed Form 1 should be signed in the following places:

  • On Page 1 Box 7 sign your name and add “as trustee” at the end.
  • On the bottom of Page 2 sign the Makers Certification with your name and add “as trustee” at the end.
  • Only sign on Page 3 Box 17 if you are paying with a credit card.

Important:  The ATF requires all signatures to be in either blue or black ink.

Turning to the Form 23

A copy of the new ‘responsible person’ form 5320.23 (Form 23) will need to be completed by each ‘responsible person’ of the trust listed in Box 16 of the Form 1.

Important Note:  Your fellow ‘responsible persons’ will find it much easier to complete this form if they have a copy of the completed Form 1 in front of them.  

The Form 23 may be downloaded from the ATF website and also has the auto-transfer feature for additional copies.  Remember to use Adobe Acrobat Reader for this feature to work.

You, and the Joint Trustees listed on Schedule B of your trust, should download the form and each one complete it according to the following instructions:

Form 23 – Page 1

  • In Box 1 you should check the box for Form 1.
  • In Box 2 you should copy the trust name and address from Box 3b on the Form 1.
  • In Box 3a you should put your full legal name and your home address.
  • In Box 3b you should put your telephone number.
  • Box 3c can be left blank.
  • If you have changed your name at any time during your life, including being married, then Box 3d should contain all other names you have ever used.
  • In Box 3e you will affix a 2×2 passport-quality photo taken within the last year (on the ATF copy of the form only).  As I noted here, many NFA dealers are planning to offer in-store photography options so you should check with your local gun store.  Failing that, Walgreens is a common provider of this service in many towns.
  • In Box 4a, you should copy the type-of-firearm from Box 4b of the Form 1.
  • In Box 4b you should copy the name and location from Box 4a of the Form 1.
  • In Box 4c you should copy the model from Box 4d of the Form 1.
  • In Box 4d you should copy the caliber and UOM from Box 4c of the Form 1.
  • In Box 4e you should copy the serial number from Box Box 4g of the Form 1.
  • Box 5 should contain the information regarding the CLEO whose jurisdiction includes the home address in Box 3a.

Form 23 – Page 2

  • You will need to answer the questions in Boxes 6, 7, and 8 as they apply to you, the person completing the form.  In the example below, I am completing them as I personally would answer them but you will need to answer them truthfully as they apply to you!
  • Note: If you have been convicted of a felony but have since had your gun rights restored then the instructions state you should answer question 6b as ‘No’.  However, I strongly advise you to attach a copy of your restoration paperwork to the Form 23 when submitting it to the ATF.
  • You will sign the certification following Box 8.  (More about this in the signing section below)
  • You should enter the date in the field to the right of the signature block.

A Completed Sample of Form 23

The following sample form illustrates what a completed form should look like.

Download (PDF, 928KB)

Printing The Completed Form 23

Once you have completed the Form 23, you will need to print it.  It will print 2 copies.  You should now affix your photo to the ATF copy of the Form 23 only. (DO NOT USE STAPLES)

Signing the Completed Form 23

The only place you will need to sign the Form 23 is following the certification statement below Box 8.  You do NOT add “as trustee” to your signature on this form.

Do not forget to sign both copies of the Form 23.

Important:  The ATF requires all signatures to be in either blue or black ink.

Notifying Your CLEO

The Settlor of the trust will need to mail his or her CLEO (From Box 5 of the Form 23) the CLEO copy of the Form 1 and the CLEO copy of their Form 23.

All other responsible persons will only need to mail his or her CLEO (From Box 5 of their Form 23) the CLEO copy of their Form 23.

Important Note:  The CLEO copy of the Form 23 does not have a photo affixed.  You should also not send fingerprint cards to the CLEO.

Fingerprint Cards

Each Form 23 to be sent to the ATF will need to be accompanied by fingerprints of the responsible person taken on 2 FBI (FD-258) fingerprint cards.  As I noted here, many NFA dealers are planning to offer in-store fingerprinting so you should check with your local gun store.  Failing that, you should be able to get fingerprinted at your local law enforcement agency.  No matter who does the fingerprinting, you should make sure that they use the correct FD-258 cards.

Mailing the Completed Form 1 Packet to the ATF

Now we need to prepare the packet to mail to the ATF.  Note that If you are building more than one NFA item, you will need a separate packet for each item.

This packet should include:

  • The first 2 copies of the completed Form 1 printed front and back as noted above with original signatures in blue or black ink on both copies.  (These are marked ATF Copy and ATF Copy 2 on the bottom of the forms)
  • The ATF Copy of the Form 23 for each responsible person of the trust with photos affixed and fingerprint cards included. (DO NOT STAPLE)
  • A single copy of your notarized trust instrument (including all schedules)
  • Payment for the amount of the tax ($200) payable to BATFE (unless you entered credit card info on the Form 1)

The entire packet should be mailed to:

National Firearms Act Branch
BATFE
P.O. Box 530298
Atlanta, GA 30353-0298

If this guide leaves any questions unanswered, please feel free to contact me.

Posted in 41F, 41P, ATF, BATFE, CLEO Notification, Form 1, Form 23, NFA Trusts, Responsible Persons | Comments Off on The complete guide to the new Form 1

Reducing your trust’s ‘responsible persons’ after 41F

Reduction“What can I do to my trust to reduce the number of people who need to be fingerprinted and photographed?”

Now that 41F is actually in effect, I am getting dozens of emails with some version of this question.

The good news is that I believe there is a way to reduce the number of people who need to be fingerprinted and photographed while still allowing them temporary access to the items for hunting and sporting purposes:

IMPORTANT:  This advice is specific to trusts that I have drafted.  If you have a different trust, please consult with the attorney who drafted your trust.

The solution revolves around understanding which parties to a trust are affected by the new rule so let’s take a quick moment to review that question.

Under 41F, those persons who need to be fingerprinted, photographed, and notify their CLEO are known as ‘responsible persons’.  I have a detailed article here that breaks down my analysis of which parties on a trust are ‘responsible parties’ and which ones are not.

The summary version is this:

  • Settlor – Responsible Person
  • Joint Trustee – Responsible Person
  • Successor Trustee – No
  • Beneficiary – No

Therefore, our goal is simple.  If we are going to submit a new Form 4 or Form 1 application then we need to remove as many  Joint Trustees as possible.

That, in and of itself, is quite easy.  When I originally emailed you your trust, it was accompanied by a Word document containing blank schedules.  If you have lost that document, I still have it in your client file and will be glad to email you a replacement copy.

If you do not have Microsoft Word or would prefer my assistance, I would be glad to make the changes for you.

In either case, we simply use that template to print a new version of Schedule B with the selected Joint Trustees removed.  Once printed, you should:

  • Sign and date it with the current date (not the date that is on the other schedules)
  • Make as many copies of the signed and dated Schedule B as you have copies of the trust
    (including those held by joint or successor trustees and by beneficiaries)
  • Replace that page in all copies of the trust

Incidentally, it works the exact same way if you want to add a new Joint Trustee to the trust.  And that brings us to one of the questions that I have answered literally hundreds of times since 41F was published … “Do new trustees have to be fingerprinted and photographed when they are added to the trust?”

The answer is “Not unless you have a pending application.

The ATF addressed this in their 41F FAQ.  The relevant portion notes that:

Q: Will new responsible persons, added after the making or transfer, be subject to the same requirements?

A: Once an application has been approved, no documentation is required to be submitted to ATF when a new responsible person is added to a trust or legal entity. However, should a responsible person change after the application has been submitted, but before it is approved, the applicant or transferee must contact the NFA Branch for guidance.

So … while it is possible to remove joint trustees and then re-add them at a later date once all pending applications are approved, it certainly is not an ideal solution and deprives your friends and family of months of legal access to your NFA items.

But that is not the solution I am proposing for my clients.  Since Joint Trustees are ‘responsible persons’ while Beneficiaries are not, can we make the current Joint Trustees into Beneficiaries with the ability to possess NFA items at the discretion of the Settlor?  I believe under both state trust law, and the clear text of 41F, that we can.

Let start with the general premise that, in my trusts, Beneficiaries have no power to compel or control any aspects of the trust.  I make this clear in Section 5.1 where it states in part:

“My Trustee has the sole and absolute discretion to … deny a beneficiary benefits”

In 5.2 however, I note that Beneficiaries may have temporary possession of trust assets at the discretion of the Trustee (which in a trust with no Joint Trustees will be the Settlor). That section states:

“My Trustee must have actual or constructive possession of trust property at all times. My Trustee may document reasonable, temporary transfers of trust property to a beneficiary”

Taken together, I believe that under 41F, the Settlor may issue letters of authorization to Beneficiaries to possess items for temporary hunting or sporting activities (I will be posting a sample letter shortly).  This does not grant the same level of “treat it like you own it” possessory access that a Joint Trustee would have.  However, it will satisfy the needs of 99% of those persons who would have historically been listed as Joint Trustees, and most importantly, does not require them to be fingerprinted, photographed, or to provide CLEO notification.

So how do we add the former (now removed) Joint Trustees to our list of beneficiaries? We return to our Word template I provided.  In Schedule D, most of you will have language that looks something like the following:

Upon the death of the Settlor, 100% of trust assets are to be distributed to John Andrew Pierce.  If he predeceases the Settlor or is unable to take possession for any reason then 100% of trust assets should be distributed to Joshua William Pierce.  …

What we are going to do is leave the post-death section alone and add a section above it that will read like the following:

During the life of the Settlor, the following shall be beneficiaries of the trust with benefits available only at the sole and complete discretion of my Trustee: First Middle Last1, First Middle Last2, and First Middle Last3.

The resulting Schedule D will then describe beneficiaries both during the life and following the death of the Settlor as illustrated below:

During the life of the Settlor, the following shall be beneficiaries of the trust with benefits available only at the sole and complete discretion of my Trustee: First Middle Last1, First Middle Last2, and First Middle Last3.

Upon the death of the Settlor, 100% of trust assets are to be distributed to John Andrew Pierce.  If he predeceases the Settlor or is unable to take possession for any reason then 100% of trust assets should be distributed to Joshua William Pierce.  …

I want to stress that none of us in the legal community know exactly how the ATF will handle the various strategies we are each proposing for moving forward.  So I would advise my clients to only make such a change as-and-when they are ready to submit a new Form 4 or Form 1 (guides to the new forms will be posted shortly).

That will serve the dual purposes of not overwhelming me with requests to review changes all at once and giving the ATF a chance to approve or reject the theory.  We simply do not know how they will interpret a given instrument in the light of that loosely worded definition of ‘responsible person’.

As I have stated before, this entire analysis, and the resulting advice, may change completely if the ATF chooses to ignore the clear text of the regulation as they have already done where the 24 month exemption clause is concerned.

If you are one of those people who are ready to file a new Form 1 or Form 4 and would like me to assist you with making these proposed changes (knowing the uncertainty that will face the initial applicants), or would just like me to review them after you have made them, feel free to contact me.

Posted in 41F, 41P, ATF, BATFE, CLEO Notification, Fingerprinting, NFA Trusts | Comments Off on Reducing your trust’s ‘responsible persons’ after 41F

Who is a ‘responsible person’ under 41F?

team“Just who are these ‘responsible persons’ the ATF keeps talking about?”

This is the key question that NFA Trust attorneys have been talking about since the final version of 41F was released earlier this year.

After all, we need to know the bounds of the rule so that we can advise our clients on the best way to reduce the impact of 41F on their collection activities.

The text of the rule has this to say about ‘responsible persons’ where trusts are concerned:

“[T]he term “responsible person” for a trust or legal entity includes those persons who have the power and authority to direct the management and policies of the trust or legal entity to receive, possess, ship, transport, deliver, transfer, or otherwise dispose of a firearm for, or on behalf of, the trust or entity.”

They go on to further ‘clarify’ by adding that:

“In the case of a trust, those with the power or authority to direct the management and policies of the trust include any person who has the capability to exercise such power AND possesses, directly or indirectly, the power or authority under any trust instrument, or under State law, to receive, possess, ship, transport, deliver, transfer, or otherwise dispose of a firearm for or on behalf of the trust.”

The language is clearly intended to cast a wide net and make as many parties to the trust as possible subject to the requirements of the rule.  However, you will note in both cases, the key element is the power to “direct the management and policies of the trust … to receive, possess, ship, transport, deliver, transfer, or otherwise dispose of a firearm for or on behalf of the trust.” 

Boiling this down further, the key element that makes someone a ‘responsible person’ is power.  Regardless of the title they have on the trust:

  • If a person can purchase an NFA item on behalf of the trust then they are a ‘responsible person’.
  • If a person can sell trust assets then they are a ‘responsible person’.
  • If a person can compel possession of trust assets then they are a ‘responsible person’.

Based upon my analysis of the regulation, on the trusts I provide my clients, only the Settlor themselves and the Joint Trustees laid out on Schedule B meet these requirements.

I have been asked by several people whether Successor Trustees (Schedule C) are considered ‘responsible persons’ and my considered opinion is that they are not. Successor Trustees are those who may, at some unspecified time in the future, take over to handle the distribution of trust assets to the beneficiaries.  However, they do not have any power currently on the trust and may never serve.

As for beneficiaries, even if they have been granted the ability to possess trust assets by a trustee, unless the distribution instructions on Schedule D grant them the power to compel possession or distribution while the Settlor is still alive then I believe that they do not meet the definition of ‘responsible persons’ either.

Based upon this breakdown, I am currently working on an article which will walk my clients through their options to manage ‘responsible persons’ on their trust.  I will link it here when it is complete.

Final Note: This analysis, and the resulting advice, may change if the ATF chooses to ignore the clear text of the regulation as they have already done where the 24 month exemption clause is concerned (I will be writing more about that later).

Posted in 41F, 41P, ATF, BATFE, Form 23, NFA Trusts, Responsible Persons | Comments Off on Who is a ‘responsible person’ under 41F?

The industry is moving quickly to minimize the impact of 41F

WorkaroundThe only thing more powerful than a giant bureaucracy is the inventiveness of free enterprise.

Therefore, it is no surprise that the firearms industry is already hard at work minimizing the impacts of 41F on the use of NFA trusts.

To understand what the industry is doing, let’s first let’s take a quick look at what exactly changed as part of 41F.  After all, there is a lot of misinformation concerning 41F that is being spread by word of mouth and the internet.

As a trust applicant, what exactly will you have to do after 41F that you didn’t have to do before?

1)  Each ‘responsible person’ (more about that later) of the trust will have to complete and submit a  Form 5320.23 (Form 23).

2)  This form will need to be accompanied by fingerprints of the responsible person taken on 2 FBI (FD-258) fingerprint cards.

3)  This form will need to have a passport quality / size photo affixed.

4)  A copy of the form will need to be sent to the CLEO of the responsible person.

That’s it.  Other than that, NFA trusts will continue to offer the same usage, asset protection, and estate planning benefits as before.

So how can the industry help to alleviate the additional application burden?  One answer is to provide a one-stop experience for getting fingerprinting and photos.

Silencer Shop was the first (to my knowledge) to announce such an initiative with their Kiosk System.  But now that 41F is in effect, the floodgates have opened and almost all major Class 3 dealers have announced plans to offer in-store fingerprinting and photographs.

One example is SafeSide Tactical in Roanoke Virginia.  Starting today they will take your fingerprints, take your photo, help you to complete the Form 23, and mail it to your CLEO, all for a nominal per-responsible-person fee.

They will offer this service to both those purchasing NFA items on a Form 4 and those building items on a Form 1.  However, the fee will be discounted for those purchasing items in-store.

Green Top in Richmond has announced plans to have a Silencer Shop kiosk in-house.

While I have not had time to compile a comprehensive list, I predict that almost every single Class 3 dealer in the state will ultimately offer some form of this service.

What do I base this prediction upon?

  1.  Industry leaders are already doing it.
  2. The cost for the equipment and training is negligible.
  3. It is an additional revenue stream
  4. Any dealer who does not ultimately offer this service will be at a significant competitive disadvantage.

So whether you are new to the NFA world or an experienced collector you should rest assured that an NFA Trust will continue to be the preferred method of ownership.

FAQ


Question:  What are ‘responsible persons’?

Answer:  There has been a lot written about this topic but as far as trusts I have developed are concerned, only the Settlor and the joint/co-trustees named on Schedule B are considered ‘responsible persons’.


Question:  Does adding trustees to my trust require a Form 23 be submitted with fingerprints and photographs?

Answer:  No.  Not unless you subsequently file a Form 4 or a Form 1.  I will be writing more about this over the next few days.


Question:  Is it acceptable to the ATF for non-law enforcement to take fingerprints for the Form 23?

Answer: Yes.  ON page 150 of 41F they note that

“Fingerprints may be taken by anyone who is properly equipped to take them (see instructions on ATF Form 1, Form 4, Form 5, and Form 5320.23). Therefore, applicants may utilize the service of any business or government agency that is properly equipped to take fingerprints. Depending on where the fingerprints are taken, the service may require an appointment, and appointment availability may be limited. Some businesses provide evening and weekend appointments and a number of private companies provide mobile fingerprinting services at a location chosen by the customer to be fingerprinted. Additionally, some mobile fingerprinting services offer special pricing to groups of individuals who need to be fingerprinted.”


 

Posted in 41F, 41P, Administrative Law, ATF, BATFE, CLEO Notification, FFL Issues, Form 1, Form 23, Form 4, NFA Trusts | Comments Off on The industry is moving quickly to minimize the impact of 41F

Filing last minute paper Form 1’s

We have finally arrived at the final day to submit Form 1 and Form 4 applications and have them processed under the pre-41F rules.

As anticipated and feared, the eForms system has been flaky and unavailable for the last several days.  This morning it is completely unresponsive.

I have been getting literally dozens of calls from clients who want to file last minute Form 1’s and I am telling them that it is time to go paper.  Since most of us have been spoiled by the eForms system, here is a refresher on doing the paper Form 1 process.

** This guide was intended for use on July 12th only and is now superseded ** 

** Click here for a complete guide to filing the new Form 1 **

Important Note: We are going to use the old version of the Form 1 (a fillable version is available here).  This version will be made obsolete tomorrow since the ATF will only accept the new Forms for any applications made July 13th and later but for today’s purposes, this is what we need.

Let’s start with the top of page 1.  The following image is a loop of how to fill out these fields.  

*** Click on the image for a larger and clearer version.

A few comments about this section of the Form 1.

  1.  We leave Trade Name blank.
  2. The address in 3b is your Mailing Address.  If your physical address is different then it goes into 3c.  Otherwise, we leave 3c blank.
  3. Virginia is one of the few states where some independent cities are outside of counties. If you live in an independent city (like Alexandria) instead of the county then put your city in 3d (e.g.  “Alexandria City”).   Otherwise you simply put your county name.
  4. When entering the Manufacturer Name and Location, Model, and Serial Number, it is critical that you enter them exactly as they are engraved on the lower!  The ATF has been rejecting a large number of applications recently based upon bad info in these fields.
  5. Do NOT put ‘Multi’ as the caliber.  While you may have multiple uppers for your registered lower, you need to declare a specific primary configuration in this application and you need to retain the ability to return to this configuration.
  6. If you have a foreign manufactured firearm, you put the name and location of the original manufacturer in 4a, not the importer (which might also be engraved on the lower).
  7. If you are manufacturing your own suppressor, or your own SBR based on an un-serialized 80% lower, then your trust is the manufacturer and you should put the trust name, city, and state in 4a.  In this scenario, you will also need to designate the model name and the serial number.
  8. The options for 4b are:  silencer, machinegun, short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or destructive device.  There have been unconfirmed reports of ATF rejecting applications for putting ‘Suppressor’ instead of ‘Silencer’ in this field.

The bottom of page 1 has only a few fields we need to fill in.

*** Click on the image for a larger and clearer version.

 

The only comment I have here is that you should not forget to sign in box 7.

The top of page 2 is the law enforcement certification which does not apply to trust applicants but you will need to answer the questions in box 11 as they apply to you, the person completing the form.  In the example below, I am completing them as I personally would answer them but you will need to answer them truthfully as they apply to you!

*** Click on the image for a larger and clearer version.

Paper3

There are two notes here.

  1. If you are a resident alien here on a non-immigrant visa then you will also need to complete questions 13 through 16.
  2. Until tomorrow, photographs are not required for trust applicants and you may skip box 12.

Finally we come to the last page which is really only concerned with payment.  I generally recommend paying via personal check but there is no wrong answer here as long as you make sure to submit a valid payment.

*** Click on the image for a larger and clearer version.

Paper4

If you are paying via credit card then do not forget to sign at the bottom of this section.

That’s it as far as filling out the form is concerned.  But we are not done yet.  We need to get this form printed properly and put together a complete packet to mail to the ATF.  Let’s start with how to print out and sign the filled-in form.

  1. You must print the form front and back (double-sided). If you print it out front side only, (which would be the default for 99% of all printers) then your otherwise complete application will be rejected.
  2. You must print and sign 2 copies for each item you are building.
  3. The ATF requires all signatures to be in either blue or black ink.
  4. When signing, sign your name as you normally would and then add “, as Trustee” at the end.

Now we need to prepare the packet to mail to the ATF.  Note that If you are building more than one NFA item, you will need a separate packet for each item.

This packet should include:

  • 2 copies of the completed Form 1 printed front and back as noted above with original signatures in blue or black ink on both copies
  • 2 copies of your notarized trust instrument (including all schedules)
  • Payment for the amount of the tax ($200) payable to BATFE

The entire packet should be mailed to:

National Firearms Act Branch
BATFE
P.O. Box 530298
Atlanta, GA 30353-0298

In order to be processed under the pre-41F rules, applications must be postmarked with today’s date.  You should make sure to take the packet to the counter at your local post office to insure it is postmarked.

If this guide leaves any questions unanswered, I will be taking calls all day in the order they are received.

Posted in 41F, 41P, ATF, BATFE, eForms, Form 1, NFA Trusts | Comments Off on Filing last minute paper Form 1’s