How State Law Impacts Your Gun Trust 

By  Dennis Brislawn

Recently I penned a blog about ATF Rule 41F which affects trusts and other legal entities possessing NFA firearms.  More is coming about it.  There is a lot of information available on this site, and chances are that you know a lot about firearms and gun trusts.

Federal law in the Gun Control Act, especially the NFA, and ATF Rule 41F are only part of the story.  An NFA-only or full blown gun trust must also operate under state law.  State firearms law is getting far more complex, and less standardized than ever.  Washington and Oregon enacted new background check laws in 2014 and 2015 respectively.  California, Colorado, and a host of other states especially on the east coast have also been active in firearms law.

The issue a gun trust can help with is about the criminal transfer of a firearm to another person… just when you thought it was okay.  Do you allow an adult friend or child to borrow and shoot your firearm on your private property (where it is legal to shoot, let’s say) in Washington?  PROBABLY A CRIME.  Check RCW 9.41 and the exceptions to a background check… this fact pattern is not one of them, i.e. adult friend or child is NOT an exception to the background check requirement, shooting on private property (when you are not lawfully hunting) is not an exception either.

Here’s another interesting factoid.  Many gun trusts were created to acquire a silencer under the NFA.  A silencer is NOT a firearm under Washington or Oregon law since the state law definition is not the same as in federal law.  Many gun trust owners (especially in Washington and Oregon) seem to be concerned only with silencers, and they may even do a simpler form of gun trust or a generic one for that reason.  However, this can be dangerous.

An NFA-only trust can own NFA firearms besides a silencer that are legal in the state.  State law in both states makes a transfer of any firearm (as defined in state law, not just federal law) is an issue.  So transfer of a silencer to a friend to shoot, who is a trustee of your gun trust, looks okay. What if your gun trust owns a short barreled rifle?  What if your silencer is attached to your pistol when you hand it over?

Many of our clients use our Bronze Trust as a silencer is the ONLY gun trust asset.  It’s an inexpensive, NFA-only gun trust for a low price, but it does have a law firm behind it.  It may do the trick for our clients in Washington, Oregon, ALaska or Idaho, and other attorneys make it available throughout the United States.  For those who want control over all their firearms, a Bronze Trust can easily be converted to a SIlver or Gold Trust.

Remember, not matter what kind of gun trust you have in Washington and Oregon, YOU MUST TAKE CARE to understand the definition of “firearm” is under both federal AND state law.

SBR = Firearm under Title I, Title II, and Washington/Oregon law.

Silencer = Firearm under Title II.

Both firearms can be owned by any of our gun trusts.  But each poses a different risk when you allow ANY OTHER PERSON to possess them. And that is why having a Gun Docx Trust backed by an attorney in your state is a smart choice.  (Gun Docx is available to attorneys and their clients nationally, we might add.)

Our NW Gun Law Group creates gun trusts for Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Idaho clients, and we know federal and state law, are available to help you understand and apply it, and will work with you and your trust as the laws change.

About the author 

Dennis Brislawn

Dennis is a partner in Northwest Gun Law Group.

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