Can my trust get a curio & relic FFL?

Log_BookTonight I received a call from a friend who was wondering whether or not a trust could acquire an FFL 03 license.

For those of you unfamiliar with the different types of federal firearms licenses (FFLs), a type 03 FFL is what is commonly know as a ‘Collector of Curios and Relics License.’  However, this is commonly shortened to simply ‘C&R license.’

A C&R license allows the licensed party to acquire firearms defined as curios or relics in interstate commerce.  The official definition of a curio or relic is defined in 27 CFR 478.11 and is:

Firearms which are of special interest to collectors by reason of some quality other than is associated with firearms intended for sporting use or as offensive or defensive weapons. To be recognized as curios or relics, firearms must fall within one of the following categories:

(a) Firearms which were manufactured at least 50 years prior to the current date, but not including replicas thereof;

(b) Firearms which are certified by the curator of a municipal, State, or Federal museum which exhibits firearms to be curios or relics of museum interest; and

(c) Any other firearms which derive a substantial part of their monetary value from the fact that they are novel, rare, bizarre, or because of their association with some historical figure, period, or event. Proof of qualification of a particular firearm under this category may be established by evidence of present value and evidence that like firearms are not available except as collector’s items, or that the value of like firearms available in ordinary commercial channels is substantially less.

Therefore, if a trust could acquire a C&R license in the name of the trust then many curio and relic firearms could be acquired directly in the interest of growing a collection.

However the answer to his question is “No.  A trust cannot hold an FFL license of any kind.


Well … It really all comes down to the definition of a ‘person’.

Quoting from a letter sent by Helen Koppe who is the Chief of the Firearms Industry Programs Branch in a March 17, 2014 letter to Mr. Brandon L. Maddox of Dakota Silencer, “The term ‘person’ is defined by the GCA at 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(1), to include ‘any individual, corporation, company, association, firm, partnership, society, or joint stock company. The definition of ‘person’ in the Gun Control Act does not include unincorporated trusts.

Now that we know that a trust is not a person for purposes of the GCA, we look to the licensing requirements under 18 U.S. Code § 923 and find that the entire section addresses the licensing of ‘persons’.

Therefore, since a trust is not a ‘person’ for purposes of the GCA, they cannot receive an FFL, C&R or otherwise.

This entry was posted in ATF, ATF Guidance Letters, BATFE, C&R, Curio and Relic, FFL 03, FFL Issues, Firearms Technology Branch, NFA Trusts. Bookmark the permalink.