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National Park Service Ranger and SBR paperwork question

Discussion in 'NFA Firearms and Accessories' started by bikemutt, Aug 3, 2017.

  1. bikemutt
    • Contributing Member

    bikemutt Member

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    A good friend (M) recounted a story to me concerning his recent contact with a NPS Ranger while plinking with his SBR on US Forest Service land. The Ranger asked him how long the barrel is to which M replied 10". Ranger told him the weapon is an SBR and asked to see the ATF paperwork. M told him the paperwork is at home in his safe. Ranger advises that he can in fact confiscate the rifle until he sees proof it's lawfully registered. After some negotiation the details of which I'm not privy to, Ranger records all the relevant information such as M's identification, the weapon's make, model and serial number, and agrees to let M keep the weapon go about his day. He finishes by advising M he will be contacting ATF to verify lawful status of SBR and, should M's story not pan out, to expect a knock on his door.

    M believes that he's only required to show his NFA paperwork to an ATF agent. I explained to him that I always carry a reduced copy of my stamps in my wallet precisely because of situations like this, he agreed that's a good idea and plans to do the same or similar.

    The $6M question remains though; is the NPS Ranger correct that he could confiscate the SBR until poof of lawful possession is furnished? And, is failure to have NFA paperwork while transporting an NFA item a crime in itself, regardless of who in law enforcement may be asking to see it?
     
  2. vtsteve

    vtsteve Member

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    Legally, you are not required to carry your paperwork, and only need to show it to a bona fide ATF agent upon request. It is after all a private tax document. Can the police pull you over and ask to see your 1040?

    The 4th amendment does not cease to protect you just because you're in possession of a federally regulated firearm. That being said, if an LEO reasonably suspects you of committing a crime, then sure they can detain you until they sort things out. I feel like they would have a hard time explaining to a judge why they had reason to suspect you of tax evasion.

    I do keep scans of my stamps on my phone, only because it's not worth the hassle of trying to explain the law to some self righteous Barney Fife. So far nobody has ever asked to see them.
     
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  3. bikemutt
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    bikemutt Member

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    I did ask if there were any other circumstances with this contact, like shooting up a tree or other park property for example, apparently there were no corollary issues that would've invoked suspicion of criminal activity.

    The only other justification for insisting on seeing the paperwork I've been able to find is where possession of an unregistered SBR would be a violation of State law, which it certainly would be in WA. I wouldn't think Federal LE would be that interested in violations of State law but I could be wrong.
     
  4. vtsteve

    vtsteve Member

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    In some states the possession of certain NFA items are declared illegal, unless possessed in accordance with federal law. In these instances I think it gives a state LEO some leeway as the onus is on you to prove that the "exception" makes your possession legal in that state. I agree that a federal LE shouldn't really have an interest, nor the jurisdiction to enforce state law.

    This aspect has been discussed before here.
     
  5. Ryanxia

    Ryanxia Member

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    Another thing to consider is that NFA knowledge varies widely between particular law enforcement officers.
     
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  6. pdsmith505

    pdsmith505 Member

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    IANAL, but I do have google...

    Compliance with federal law does not require you to carry your approved tax forms with you. In fact, compliance with federal law only authorizes ATF agents to demand your paperwork.

    The way (2) and (4) are worded seems to indicate that SBR's are presumptively lawful, while compliance with federal law is only an affirmative defense for MG's and SBS's.

    Seems to me that Park Ranger would have to have some probable cause to believe that you were unlawfully in possession of the SBR to confiscate it and charge you with unlawful possession. A MG or SBS, on the other hand...

    But, again, IANAL.
     
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  7. Bwana John

    Bwana John Member

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    NPS or USFS ranger?

    NPS or USFS land?

    Two different things with very different rules.

    I'm not even sure a NPS ranger would have any jurisdiction on USFS land.
     
  8. bikemutt
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    bikemutt Member

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    Good question; my friend clarified it was USFS land and Ranger, sorry for the confusion.
     
  9. barnbwt

    barnbwt Member

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    And even more variable, is the personal comfort or discomfort of a particular officer with even indisputably lawful behavior. I'd want to be independently wealthy and have a good attorney on retainer before willingly offering myself up as a snack for some misguided depitty-dog by not having all my 'peppers' on hand for the commissar when these items are in my possession. Hell, keep a copy of the NFA statute on hand as well in case they dare you to wave that in their face.

    While it's never a good idea to purposely engage in legal debate on the roadside with an officer since he can haul you in regardless, these self-righteous types seem to always want to prove to their victim that they are deserving of abuse right then, so as to make their suffering all the more delicious...or something. At any rate, you see this kind of behavior with jerk ROs, jerk gunstore owners/patrons, jerk officers, and of course, jerk judges, who insist upon insisting so long as they hold the card of physical power, unless presented with some contrary objective evidence right then and there that could embarrass them later.

    I still don't understand how either arrest or charges aren't required for the seizure of anything in this country. If it isn't worth arresting someone over, it isn't worthy of taking without compensation (and the oft-used tacit agreement to "just give it to us for free, and we won't press charges" is the worst kind of bad-faith extortion a government official can commit short of fabricating charges)

    TCB
     
  10. dogtown tom

    dogtown tom Member

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    Being that the ATF FAQ's often leave out full and complete information.........here's what the cites at the bottom of that answer say:

    https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/atf-national-firearms-act-handbook-appendix/download


    It doesn't say "only an ATF agent".;)




    Of particular note is the preface to the NFA Handbook that reminds us:

    What this means is the Attorney General gets to decide who represents him at the local gun range.:D
    It would not surprise me that there is additional legislation that gives broad authority to any federal law enforcement officer.






     
  11. pdsmith505

    pdsmith505 Member

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    So, here's a question:

    What does "[make] available to the Secretary upon request" mean?

    Does that mean you must produce it to the Attorney General on demand, right then and there? Or does it mean that he requests it, and you proceed to send a copy in a timely manner?
     
  12. dogtown tom

    dogtown tom Member

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    It means if a Federal LEO asks to see your tax stamp you show it to him. If you can't he'll probably take your firearm until you can provide what he requested.
     
  13. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

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    That's how at least some NFA items are handled in TX. (I think that a bill takes effect in Sept that changes how silencers are handled.)

    Sec. 46.05. PROHIBITED WEAPONS. (a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly possesses, manufactures, transports, repairs, or sells:

    (1) any of the following items, unless the item is registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or classified as a curio or relic by the United States Department of Justice:

    (A) an explosive weapon;
    (B) a machine gun;
    (C) a short-barrel firearm; or
    (D) a firearm silencer;

    If you live in a state like that, you absolutely don't have to show the LEO your paperwork if you don't want to. But you will be arrested and prosecuted if you decide you're going to keep your paperwork private. It's probably best to know your state laws and act accordingly.
     
  14. langenc

    langenc Member

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    The state boys and feds may agree to 'work together'. I know that the US border inspectors ask to check how many fish are being brought in from Canada, at certain times or maybe all the time, ie enforcement of Canadian fish and game laws..
     
  15. pdsmith505

    pdsmith505 Member

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    Regardless, I was wondering what time frame is associated with the term "make available on request." Elsewhere in 26 USC, the term is used with reference to documents that could not possibly be carried on the person... for example:

    Barring some legal definition of "make available upon request" to the contrary, the law doesn't say you must have the documents on you... you just have to provide them upon request.

    ATF Agent: Show me your approved Form 4.
    You: Certainly, it is safely stored in my safe at home. Lets go get it.


    Keep in mind, I'm not disputing that having the documents on you in some form or another (mine are saved as PDF's on my phone... the wonders of technology!) and showing them to someone who can arrest you when they ask for them is a good idea. Such situations fall into the "you may beat the rap, but you won't beat the ride" category.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2017
  16. pdsmith505

    pdsmith505 Member

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    I have an interesting experience that relates to this though...

    A while back I brought my can and SBR with me to a gun show in the event that I found something I might want to put on it (gotta check the fit!), and the police here in VA (where NFA items are prohibited by state law, unless properly registered) just made sure it was unloaded and zip-tied the action open like any other firearm. No questions asked.
     
  17. armoredman

    armoredman Member

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    I confess, back in the day many moons ago, while working as a range officer for an indoor range, we were instructed by the manager to "ask for papers" for anyone shooting full auto on the line. We certainly weren't LE by ANY stretch of the imagination, much less Fed, but every single person I spoke to had the copies on them and provided them without any issues. I was told it was for the store's liability insurance. Nowadays, I wonder, but that company is long gone.
    Now, I know better.
     
  18. UhKlem

    UhKlem Member

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    I always carry my paperwork and point out the stamp tax that for more principled ancestors led to dumped tea in Boston harbor. It's a teachable moment. :thumbup:

    I blacken out the address on my carry copies. I had a friend lose a Form 4 copy for a valuable MG and for a year or two he always worried someone who found it might target his house for burglary. If I ever got stopped without paperwork I'd ask for a fax number to fax the evidence of compliance to if the officer took down info without confiscating item. If an officer confiscated item I'd be on phone to NFA branch asap with my attorney.

    But in 25 years only once did a question come up and an experienced senior officer clarified the matter on the spot. In this era of forums and YouTube it's getting rarer to deal with average functionaries who aren't aware of what's legal. It helps if you are doing everything safely and look squared away and considerate. Maybe offer to let them shoot it. Criminals generally don't voluntarily hand their tools over to cops. Thank the officer for checking in on you. Ask him if there's anything you should be aware of or doing differently to make his job easier. And I always bring a garbage bag and leave areas cleaner than I found them. When a ranger walks up and sees a clear bag of other shooters trash I've never not had one not thank us for helping out. Different forest districts also have varying rules on allowable targets that are hard to find on government webpages.
     
  19. Ryanxia

    Ryanxia Member

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    I don't carry my tax "stamps" since you don't even get actual stamps with e-file form 1's just a PDF document. If anyone I deem necessary to have it I will tell them to give me their email and I will send them a copy. Of course I shoot at a private range and have never had to interact with federal rangers or whatever they got out there now. No one has asked me or anyone I know with NFA items to see the paperwork.
     
  20. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    I used to keep laminated copies (shrunk to business card sized) in my wallet of all form 4 and 1s
    now, i keep photos in my iphone.

    thinking back, i can only remember one person ever asking me if my stuff was legal. i was at a gun show, in the restroom, taking a whiz at a urinal with an SBR slung on my back, and some momo started telling me it was illegal and asked to see my paperwork. he wasn't LEO or anything. not even working the show. just a momo.

    however, if asked by an LEO, I'd take it as a teaching moment and show them, but also try to educate them.
     
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