ALERT: SBR SBS Law has been signed by Governor Snyder is now on the books!
SB 610, as it is known, has now been signed by the Governor. This statute makes short barreled rifles and short barreled shotguns legal in Michigan. These items are governed at the Federal level under the NFA and will require filing Form 4s and Form 1s with the BATFE. Certain firearms will require the procurement of a CCW as well based on length of the firearm. Trusts will be your best protection in filing these items and possessing these firearms.
ALERT: DOJ/BATFE Rule Change Pending!
The Department of Justice (BATFE) has proposed a rule change that would change the rules for trusts and other non-individual entities filing Form 4s for NFA firearms. The requirement of background checks (CLEO sign offs, pictures and prints) for all "responsible persons", i.e. trustees, co-trustees, beneficiaries, company officers and employees will become required just like individuals presently are required to do. Getting trusts in place now should "grandfather" you and your loved ones from such a rule change. Expected time frame for implementation is June , 2014. Submitted Form 4s with trusts as applicants should be grandfathered in.
Reference the rule change at: http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201310&RIN=1140-AA43
NFA FIREARMS TRUSTS
Sound Suppressors, Short Barreled Shotguns (SBS), Short Barreled Rifles (SBR), Machine Guns, AOW, etc.
The Michigan Attorney General issued an opinion on September 2, 2011 finding that sound suppressors ("silencers") were legal to possess in the State of Michigan if the person was in compliance with the Federal Regulations concerning firearms regulated under the "National Firearms Act of 1934" (Title 26, United States Code, Chapter 53 and the implementing regulations found in, but not limited to, Title 27, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 479) hereinafter referred to as "NFA". These firearms area regulated by the "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives”, hereinafter referred to as "BATFE". Governor Snyder has signed now SB 610 making short barreled shotguns and rifles legal in the State of Michigan with some conditions relating to certain firearm lengths.
Compliance requires the submission of the BATFE Form 4, or ATF Form 4, to the BATFE along with $200.00 for the transfer tax. The application requires the submission of a completed fingerprint card, a photo of the applicant, and the signature of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, hereinafter "CLEO", where the applicant resides. If the CLEO doesn't sign, you don't get your suppressor or NFA firearm. A person can dispense with the CLEO signature requirement, fingerprints, and picture by applying and purchasing the firearm as trust, limited liability company, or corporation. These trusts are commonly referred to as "NFA Gun Trusts" or "NFA Firearm Trusts". A person procuring a NFA firearm using a trust must still submit the BATFE Form 4 but does so as the trustee of the trust. The trust must be drafted and executed prior to the submission of the BATFE Form 4. The same goes for a limited liability company or corporation.
An NFA Firearm or Gun Trust will not only dispense with the prints, photo, and CLEO signature requirements, it will more importantly provide protection for your loved ones against “constructive possession” accusations and potential criminal liability. An NFA Firearm or Gun Trust is set up by a person referred to in the Michigan Trust Code as a "settlor", you, and the trust agreement sets out how the property is to be maintained, who may possess the property with the settlor, and how the property is to be distributed upon the death of the settlor. An NFA Firearm or Gun Trust accomplishes this by designating a trustee and/or co trustees to do as directed in the trust agreement. The co-trustees of the trust are allowed to be in possession of the firearm just as the person establishing the trust. There are restrictions, under the National Firearms Act of 1934, and the “Gun Control Act of 1968” (Title 18, United States Code, Chapter 44 and the implementing regulations found in, but not limited to, Title 27, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 478), as to the individuals who are allowed to possess NFA firearms and are applicable to the co-trustees and beneficiaries designated by the settlor. If an individual applies for and registers the firearm in their name only then the other members of the applicant's household must not have any ability to access the firearm, even if they don't use it. An unlawful possession, actual or constructive, of a NFA firearm is a 10 year felony. The application and registration of the NFA firearm by a trust provides you the opportunity to allow your household, and others you may designate, to be in lawful possession of the NFA firearm, even if they don't use it.
An NFA Firearm or Gun Trust will further allow for the bequest and transfer of your NFA firearms to your designated beneficiaries upon your death without the $200.00 transfer tax.
This is only a quick overview of this new development for firearms owners in the State of Michigan. It is significantly more complicated and anyone contemplating the purchase of any NFA firearms, i.e. suppressors, should contact me, or another qualified attorney, for a more thorough discussion of the use of an NFA Firearm or Gun Trust. I am well aware and familiar with the requirements relating to NFA firearms, trusts, and criminal issues, and I am able to help guide you through this process.
- NFA Firearm Handbook
- ATF Form 4
- People vs. Hill, 433 Mich 464 (1989)
- regarding constructive possession of a firearm
- Michigan Firearms Laws
- Prohibited Persons
- persons prohibited from possessing firearms
- ATF Proposed Rule Change
- Obama's Executive Order relating to criminal background checks for NFA firearms resulted in a BATFE Rule Change Proposal, Filed Fed. Reg. September 9, 2013