One of the more common questions I am asked is whether the owner of an NFA item may consign it to an FFL/SOT to facilitate a sale.
The answer, like so many where the NFA is concerned, is both “Yes” and “no.”
Let me explain …
“Yes” a seller may send pictures and details of an NFA item to an FFL/SOT who will then attempt to facilitate a sale. If the resulting buyer lives in the same state as the seller then they may do a private Form 4 transfer between them. If the buyer is in another state then the seller must do a Form 4 transfer to an FFL/SOT in the buyer’s state of residence who will then do a Form 4 transfer to the buyer.
But “no” you may not deliver the NFA item itself into the possession of an FFL/SOT without doing a Form 4 transfer and paying the accompanying transfer tax.
I have heard rumors that some FFL/SOTs will take an NFA item in for ‘repairs’, which does not require a transfer tax, and then show the item to prospective buyers while it is waiting to be ‘repaired’. I would not suggest using such a tactic to skirt the transfer tax requirement since the ATF notoriously lacks a sense of humor where tax evasion is concerned.
I should also note that these same rules apply equally to items owned by individuals or by an NFA Trust.
For more information about NFA transfers, see Chapter 9 of the ATF NFA Handbook.