registering handguns brought back from WW2?


April 27, 2008, 03:28 AM
i've scoured the internet and found no information about this - if one inherits a handgun that was brought back by a family member from world war II, does it need to be registered or anything? is it illegal to possess without notifying some sort of governmental authority?

i've read a bunch of C&R laws/regulations, but they mostly relate to how to go about acquiring more c&r guns

thanks in advance.

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General Geoff
April 27, 2008, 03:36 AM
Since you're in Jersey, it wouldn't surprise me if the law required that you obtain a firearm owners ID card before you take possession of said handguns.

April 27, 2008, 03:38 AM
yeah, good call. i should've specified that - thanks.

April 27, 2008, 03:58 AM
on second thought, however, doesn't a FID merely allow you to purchase a firearm? all i'm talking about here is having an inherited firearm in the house.

April 27, 2008, 04:06 AM
here's what i've found so far that's most related to my question:

There are three way that you can acquire a handgun "without paper" and possessed legally in the State of NJ.
1. a handgun may be inherited pursuandt to N.J.S. 2C:58-3j
2. a handgun may have been possessed prior to the enactment of the NJ handgun permit law.
3. a person may own a handgun that was lawfully acquired outside the jurisdiction of the State of NJ and subsequently broght into the State

Registration of possessed handguns is voluntary in the State of NJ (as compare to NY were is mandatory). Acquisition of handguns within the State of NJ (outside of the 3 methods listed above) requires a pemit to purchase a handgun ( which is ans automatic form of registration upon acquisition of a handgun within the State of NJ)

2C:58-3j - Firearms passing to heirs or legatees. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section concerning the transfer, receipt or acquisition of a firearm, a permit to purchase or a firearms purchaser identification card shall not be required for the passing of a firearm upon the death of an owner thereof to his heir or legatee, whether the same be by testamentary bequest or by the laws of intestacy. The person who shall so receive, or acquire said firearm shall, however, be subject to all other provisions of this chapter. If the heir or legatee of such firearm does not qualify to possess or carry it, he may retain ownership of the firearm for the purpose of sale for a period not exceeding 180 days, or for such further limited period as may be approved by the chief law enforcement officer of the municipality in which the heir or legatee resides or the superintendent, provided that such firearm is in the custody of the chief law enforcement officer of the municipality or the superintendent during such period.

unless the law has changed within the last few years...

Don Gwinn
April 27, 2008, 08:13 AM
That's interesting. In Illinois, you'd need the FOID card to possess the gun no matter how you got it. I always thought the New Jersey FID was basically the same thing, but I guess we really are in a class of our own.
Yay us.

April 27, 2008, 09:41 AM

You are correct, as I have pointed out in other threads dealing with NJ gun law registration is NOT mandatory. The only way to transfer a pistol in NJ without a permit is through inheritance. However, I believe to qualify for this exemption you must actually be listed in the will to receive the firearms.

April 27, 2008, 11:27 AM
a handgun that was lawfully acquired outside the jurisdiction of the State of NJ and subsequently broght into the State

I'd say that Germany is certainly "outside the jurisdiction of the State of NJ"...

The Tourist
April 27, 2008, 11:34 AM
I'm glad this thread came up. In part, it answers a few questions I've had on WWII firearms.

The father of my best man owns a Mannlicher Carcano. They overran the plant during the war, and "liberated" the rifle.

Further, in a speech given by Charleton Heston, he refers to a 1911 on his nightstand he brought back from "his service in WWII."

In both cases I doubt that either young soldier (at that time) paid anyone for their firearms. I am also unaware of a policy at that time to simply return to the states with any firearm they had in their possession. We would be awash with Thompson submachine guns if that was the case.

If we are inheriting firearms, they must have been "legal" to begin with. How did this happen?

April 27, 2008, 12:17 PM
Tourist, there weren't a whole lot of laws sixty years ago...and the laws on the books weren't enforced unless you were making trouble. A lot of guns were brought back as legitimate, authorized war trophies (war trophy paperwork will add ~50% to the value of an old gun). More were just brought back informally.

April 27, 2008, 12:39 PM
If you can attain your family member's discharge papers, war bring backs will listed on it. This would give you proof of ownership. Plus it would add to the family history of the weapon.

April 27, 2008, 01:07 PM
We would be awash with Thompson submachine guns if that was the case.

He he ... A friend of mine's father (in a state I used to live in) actually did bring back a Thompson SMG. I don't know how he did it, because it was found among his effects after he died when I was helping him clean up his father's house.
Don't ask what happened to it. I don't know.

April 27, 2008, 02:53 PM
It was very common for WWII vets to have brought back various war trophies including guns. There were no laws to prevent this as long as the gun was legal (most were) and was not the property of the US. Gov. My father had a Luger that he brought back after WWII along with a ceremonial/dress dagger and a Nazi flag. He sold the Luger in the late 1950s and later destroyed the flag but I still have the dagger.

April 27, 2008, 03:25 PM
is it different if the gun is property of the us government?

April 27, 2008, 04:08 PM
If a US service member picks up a gun on the battle field that was clearly US. Gov. property (IE. a 1911, any gun with a US stamp or an M1 for example) and then did not return it to .gov before discharge that would be theft. Those serving in the military have an obligation to return any .gov property they have before they are discharged.

It was not uncommon during WWII for solders to retrieve things like 1911s and Thompsons from fallen solders to use in place of (IE. exchange a Thompson for an M1) or in addition to their existing weapons (add a 1911 to their available weapons). These were still the property of the US. Gov. and must be returned at some point.

If the gun is gotten from the body of a dead or captured enemy solder (my father got his Luger from the body of a dead German officer) or was clearly the property of the enemy (Mouser, P08, P35 - with German markings - or P38) then it is not theft since it is war plunder.

In addition, I suspect that it would also be considered theft if a solder were to "liberate" a nice shotgun or other non-military items that they found in an empty house for example. But I suspect that this was typically not enforced during or right after WWII.

April 27, 2008, 10:08 PM
I couldn't have fought in WWII. Anytime I wasn't fighting my mind would have been obsessing about an MP 40 we had to leave behind. I would have tried to carry and mail back every full auto that wasn't in someone's hands ;D

April 27, 2008, 10:48 PM
Many years ago (50+) I was told by a guy who had a Luger he had brought back in his duffel that it was forbidden to do so. Lots of guys did it; I don't know if there were laws against it, or if it was just regulation.

April 28, 2008, 05:51 AM
It seems there were a variety of regs or rules regarding bringing back "trophy" enemy weapons in WWII.

Remember, WWII was a *BIG* war, that spanned the globe and lasted for years. I'm not surprised that there was no single consistent rule or reg regarding bringing back enemy weapons.

From what I've read, it looks like the specific regs and rules varied from time to time and from unit to unit. What was allowed at one time and place might not be allowed later at the same location or might never have been allowed in some other command.

In many cases enemy weapons could only be legally brought back if approval was granted by some higher headquarters. In those cases paperwork was issued to the soldier bringing the weapon home. Modern collectors call these "capture papers." Their presence adds value to any WWII bringback firearm.

It appears there were sometimes additional restrictions on who could be issued "capture papers" and thus who could legally bring back firearms. I've read accounts from the ETO where officers could bring back enemy pistols, but enlisted man would not be granted the same permission.

I've also heard of guys having to dump pistols, etc, overboard because they were "contraband" and they didn't want to get caught.

On the other hand, I know of enlisted men who were issued capture papers for enemy pistols and who brought them home. Like I said, I don't think there was one universal rule and that it varied from place to place and unit to unit.

In any event, bringing back U.S. issued weapons was pretty much theft. The U.S. government did not allow officers or men to buy their own personal weapons to bring them home. That's a common myth.

Today of course there's no way to tell if a U.S. issue firearm was originally stolen or was just later acquired as surplus from the DCM or some similiar program.

April 28, 2008, 01:21 PM
very interesting. thanks for all the input!

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