Legal Possession of NFA Firearms?


PDA






FiveStrings
January 16, 2013, 11:09 PM
The purpose of my question is to survey your opinions; certainly not to solicit legal advice......

In 1946 a US Army officer returned to the US from the European Theater with a number of fully functional, fully automatic weapons, including a Thompson, an STG-44, an MP40, and a BREN LMG. How he was able to do this is not known.

This veteran kept these weapons in his private collection until his death in the early 2000's. After his death, his survivors divided up his estate, including his gun collection. Assume that the disbursement of the above-mentioned firearms took place outside the realm of probate law.

One of the survivors is currently in possession of some of these weapons. He does not possess any type of Federal Firearms license. He has no prior criminal record, and legally owns other non-NFA firearms.

Does this person legally own these automatic weapons, or is he in violation of the law by having them in his possession?

If he is currently in violation of the law, does a path exist that he can follow to pursue legal ownership of these firearms, or must these guns be surrendered to law enforcement?

If you enjoyed reading about "Legal Possession of NFA Firearms?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
oneounceload
January 16, 2013, 11:26 PM
He is currently a felon facing decades in Federal prison and huge fines

No, there is no way to make them legal. He needs to destroy and dispose of them yesterday and not discuss it on the closely monitored Internet gun sites
If he surrenders them, he will be arrested, and incarcerated

Telekinesis
January 16, 2013, 11:31 PM
If the guns were never registered under the NFA, they are illegal contraband. The registry was closed to new machine guns in 1986, so there is no way to newly register them even though they were manufactured and brought into the country before that date. There is no way for any of these guns to become legal.

The current owners of the weapons are risking 10 years in federal prison for having each weapon, and if the prosecutor can get the story that a group divided them up (after the original owner's death) he may even go as far as charging them with a charge like "conspiracy to violate federal firearms laws".

These guns need to be destroyed immediately. I would hesitate to offer them to the ATF as I have heard stories (anecdotal evidence) that the ATF is not always understanding when it comes to this sort of thing and may end up pressing charges anyway. Personally what I would do is completely strip the gun and then take the receiver itself to someone to have it torch cut into several pieces. The receiver is technically the machine gun and is all that really needs to be destroyed, and the parts can be sold to someone who owns a registered MG who wants spares.

Honestly, I don't know many people who agree with the way the NFA laws are laid out and enforced, but unfortunately they are the law right now and the penalties are severe enough that its not worth breaking. As to how the original owner got ahold of them, it used to be common place for commanders to allow the soldiers under them to keep the weapons they used in the war (and any weapons they captured). They usually had to have paperwork filed documenting them as war trophies, which then allowed them to be imported legally. And as I said, if these had been registered any time before 1986, they would be perfectly legal and would be worth quite a bit of money. The Thompson alone would be worth somewhere around $20,000 depending on manufacture and condition if it was properly registered.

blkbrd666
January 16, 2013, 11:41 PM
It is possible the veteran registered them.

p2000sk
January 17, 2013, 12:28 AM
The person should try to find all papers of the estate and go through it several times. The firearms may have been properly registered with tax stamps, and could possibly be found bundled in with tax returns of some random year.

Look under the carpet inside the safe. Look in the attic. Look everywhere and then look again.

Also consider finding a lawyer within that state who is not only pro-firearm, but is familiar with NFA firearms and associated regulations. Retain that lawyer to contact the registry seeking to confirm proper registration of each specific NFA regulated firearm. You and the known individual are not to directly contact the government, have the attorney do that. If the firearms are shown to be unregistered, the attorney can help the items be properly disposed of without any skin off the possessors back.

AlexanderA
January 17, 2013, 12:54 AM
There was a bill introduced in the last Congress to provide an amnesty in just this sort of situation.

The previous advice in this thread is good: search for registration papers (particularly a 1968 amnesty registration), strip the guns for parts, etc.

zxcvbob
January 17, 2013, 02:39 AM
He is technically in violation of some very serious laws.

It would be *possible* to register [not the right word] it under Form 10 if you found a sympathetic sheriff or police department, then from there sell it or donate to a museum or something. Approaching the cops to do this would be fraught with danger.

They are Curios and Relics, but that doesn't really help here unless they are papered.

Njal Thorgeirsson
January 17, 2013, 03:35 AM
Possessing them is indeed illegal unless they were registered. But if those had indeed be registered, those would be some extremely *EXTREMELY* valuable weapons. I would certainly check, check and recheck every single place any paperwork like that could be. I'm not sure if I would risk getting into serious trouble but letting anyone at all know my specific situation, unless there were an absolutely foolproof and safe way of checking to see if they had been registered. The person in question could face devastating fines and prison time- it just simply isn't worth it.

smalls
January 17, 2013, 03:42 AM
I too have been in the same situation regarding possession of NFA weapons being handed-down after a death in the family. You do not have to destroy them. They fall under Curios and Relics. Just put them away and don't broadcast to any one what you have.
Uh, no. An unregistered machine gun may be a curio or relic, but still illegal. You DO need to destroy it.

It's just the same quirk when a woman's husband passes away and he happen to be a gun collector. She decides she wants to sell the guns. Does she have to get an FFL and do background checks? The answer is no.

Has nothing to do with the OP's question. You can't sell it, it's an illegally owned NFA item.

Davek1977
January 17, 2013, 07:17 AM
I too have been in the same situation regarding possession of NFA weapons being handed-down after a death in the family. You do not have to destroy them. They fall under Curios and Relics. Just put them away and don't broadcast to any one what you have. It's just the same quirk when a woman's husband passes away and he happen to be a gun collector. She decides she wants to sell the guns. Does she have to get an FFL and do background checks? The answer is no. People have done it that way for years and they will continue to do it that way. Proof positive that gun control is a joke and cannot work. Sorry but that is reality. What a load of garbage! Please, do NOT folow this advice. NFA machine guns are NOT treated just like any other old gun, as this poster suggests. Each one of those guns, without a tax stamp is worth ten years of freedom for whomever possesses them. There are no exceptions, there is NO way to make these guns "legal" under current law. Disregard the above poster's advice in its entirety, as it is inaccurate and downright dangerous advice to follow. Notice the poster doesn't have ONE SINGLE SHRED of evidence to back any of his claims, other than "its been done that way for years?" Legal advice that contains no legal references should instantly be suspect!

Bubbles
January 17, 2013, 11:47 AM
Does this person legally own these automatic weapons, or is he in violation of the law by having them in his possession?
Four I can list immediately:
18 U.S.C. 922(o) Knowing possession of machine gun (10 years)
26 U.S.C. 5861(b) Receipt or possession of firearm transferred in violation of chapter (10 years)
26 U.S.C. 5861(d) Receipt or possession of unregistered firearm (10 years)
26 U.S.C. 5861(e) Transfer of firearm in violation of chapter (10 years)

Those are per-firearm. Also throw conspiracy charges in for good measure since the guns have been transfered among the family members.

If he is currently in violation of the law, does a path exist that he can follow to pursue legal ownership of these firearms, or must these guns be surrendered to law enforcement?
Strip the parts (they can be sold and some have a lot of value), and destroy the receivers.

Frank Ettin
January 17, 2013, 12:04 PM
This needs to be made very clear and everyone needs to understand it because someone whose post has been deleted gave some horribly bad advice.

Possession by a private citizen of a fully automatic firearm (or any other firearm covered by the NFA) without all NFA formalities being in order is a very serious violation of federal law. See posts 9, 10 and 11.

oneounceload
January 17, 2013, 12:59 PM
And remember what the OP said - a descendant of the original owner who just died - so even if the original soldier had them registered, possession by the other party is still illegal

If you enjoyed reading about "Legal Possession of NFA Firearms?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!