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Legally Armed: V20N4

By Teresa G. Ficaretta, Esq. & Johanna Reeves, Esq.

ATF Publishes Regulations Requiring Background Checks for “Responsible Persons” of Trusts and Corporations

The following article is based on an alert Reeves & Dola published on January 13, 2016, and is in follow up to our news flash previously published in SAR volume 20 number 2.

On January 4, 2016, the Attorney General signed a final rule amending Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) regulations in Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 479, relating to making and transfer applications for firearms regulated under the National Firearms Act (“NFA”). The regulations will require “responsible persons” of trusts and legal entities such as partnerships and corporations to submit photographs and fingerprints when the entity submits an application to make or transfer a firearm subject to the NFA. The regulations will also eliminate the law enforcement certification currently required for individuals submitting making and transfer applications.

ATF posted the final rule to its website on January 5, 2016, and it was published in the Federal Register on January 15, 2016. The effective date is July 13, 2016.

I. Historical Background

The NFA, Title 26 of the U.S. Code, Chapter 53, regulates machineguns, short barrel rifles, short barrel shotguns, silencers, destructive devices, and certain other concealable firearms known as “any other weapon.” The NFA requires such firearms to be registered by their respective manufacturer, maker, or importer, and transfers must be approved in advance by ATF.

For many years, ATF regulations implementing the NFA have required applications to make firearms (filed on ATF Form 1) and applications to transfer firearms to unlicensed individuals (filed on ATF Form 4) include photographs and fingerprints of the maker or transferee, respectively. The photographs and fingerprints enable a background check of the prospective possessor to ensure he or she is not prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms under federal or state law. In the case of individual applicants, the Form 1 or Form 4 application also had to include a certification from the local chief of police, sheriff of the county, or other chief law enforcement officer...

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