Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Trusts Offer a Legal Loophole for Buying Restricted Guns
A growing number of shooting enthusiasts are creating legal trusts to acquire machine guns, silencers or other items whose sale is restricted by federal law — a mechanism that bypasses the need to obtain law enforcement approval or even undergo criminal background checks.
The trusts, called gun trusts, are intended to allow the owners of the firearms to share them legally with family members and to pass them down responsibly. They have gained in popularity, gun owners say, in part because they may offer protection from future legislation intended to prohibit the possession or sale of the firearms.
But because of a loophole in federal regulations, buying restricted firearms through a trust also exempts the trust’s members from requirements that apply to individual buyers, including being fingerprinted, obtaining the approval of a chief local law enforcement officer and undergoing a background check.
Lawyers who handle the trusts and gun owners who have used them say that a majority of customers who buy restricted firearms through trusts do not do so to avoid such requirements. And most gun dealers continue to require background checks for the representative of the trust who picks up the firearm. But not all do.