Hey all, after having some time to take a look at the ATF’s proposed regulations regarding NFA trusts, I have taken some time to put together some thoughts. Please be sure to comment at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=ATF-2013-0001
While you guys are at it, be sure to check out http://blog.princelaw.com/ to make sure you have an understanding of all the ways ATF 41P will be hurting law abiding gun owners.
1. How is this legal with respect to the definition of trusts/corps? If a legal entity has personhood, how can an agency such as the ATF treat it as a mer…e collection of individuals? Considering the NFA is a tax law, this opens the door for the IRS to make drastic changes to how such entities are treated come tax time.
2. The NFA specifically makes a distinction between individuals and legal entities within the language of the law. Now, they propose that legal entities submit photos and prints. They may be able to change how they enforce the law, but this is outside of their domain because it runs counter to the written law and constitutes a change that could only be made a legislative level.
3. CLEOs are by and large too busy to deal with the flood of requests they are likely to receive. This proposal may lead to increased costs for the department, making it an unfunded mandate.
4. CLEOs tend to be unwilling to sign based on political leanings. Though we have not had success in court against CLEOs who refuse to sign, there are instances where police chiefs have pressured other CLEOs not to sign. If people cannot get a CLEO to sign, they will simply make the firearm/suppressor illegally, or they will challenge the NFA constitutionally.
5. How will the ATF handle situations where trustees are living in different states with different laws regarding NFA items? for example, my brother lives in IN and I live in OH. Here, SBS are legal while in IN they are not. It is perfectly legal for my brother to possess a SBS when here in OH. However, his CLEO is going to be unwilling to sign off on a Form 4 or 1 because the item is illegal in his state. Even if my brother is only on the trust as a person responsible for assisting my soon-to-be wife with the NFA legal maze in the event I pass, I will be unable to acquire legal firearms in my state.
6. The proposal also creates some real problems with regard to warranty work and NFA repairs. Because the ATF has previously ruled that a manufacturer cannot simply replace a damaged suppressor tube or receiver with a new one possessing the same s/n, many NFA owners will be SOL in the event that they need replacement. Who is going to be responsible for reimbursement when someone’s CLEO will not sign off on the Form 4 for their replacement item? This will be an absolute nightmare and all suppressor owners are going to have to hope and pray (moreso than they already do) that they never have a baffle strike.
7. The ATF admits that the CLEO certification is antiquated, that they have access to a variety of BG check systems, and that many CLEOs will not sign. Why then is this step necessary? As far as I know, no other ATF form requires such certification. The simple answer would be to treat NFA forms like FFL applications and run the checks internally at the ATF. This makes sense not only from a legal standpoint, but also procedurally.