NFATCA Report: V22N1

By Jeffrey Folloder

Having a Plan in Place Mitigates Stress During Emergencies

In previous editions of Small Arms Review, this column has discussed the need for having plans in place for disasters and calamities. To be sure, events such as hurricanes and civil unrest can stress the abilities of even the most well-prepared. Having a plan in place mitigates this stress. Many of you who have federal firearms licenses (FFLs) have recently taken a very close look at plans in place, and many of you have very likely made improvements to those plans. This is wise, and being prepared can lessen the impact of those events. But what about the ultimate disaster? Do you have a succession plan in place?

Many often quip that there are only two certainties in this world: death and taxes. Yes, it’s a pithy quip. It is also quite accurate. At some point, we all pass on. The passing of a licensee can present significant challenges to the licensee’s estate if specific plans are not in place to create an orderly succession. Complicating matters is that it is entirely possible that ATF’s field representatives may not be familiar with the nuances of navigating existing regulations and may not be able to offer proper guidance for a particular situation. This article is not a substitute for legal advice or estate planning, and the NFATCA highly recommends that you obtain professional guidance to be certain that your wishes and estate are properly managed in the event of your demise. Absent this guidance, things can become very murky, very fast. Let’s have a look at a recent tragedy in Texas.

A young licensee in Texas had operated a sole proprietor FFL manufacturer for many years. He was the only responsible person (RP) on his license and was able to keep up with the bookkeeping requirements of manufacturing National Firearms Act (NFA) items. And then, in an instant, he passed away. As the family began to recoil from the devastation, it was realized that there were a lot of things that needed to be taken care of—dozens of approved Form 4’s that needed completed 4473s, bound book reconciliation and the planning for and execution of wrapping up the business enterprise. The first call was to the ATF field office. That is where things got off track.

The field representative was under the impression that because there was no longer an RP on the license, everything would have to go to another FFL for final disposition. Obviously, this would be complicated and, ultimately, add additional expense for the customers awaiting their approved weapons. The NFATCA was able to help the family get moving in the right direction. The field representative was likely unaware that there is actually a very specific regulation that addresses this very situation. It is found in 27 CFR §478.56 Right of succession by certain persons:

(a) Certain persons other than the licensee may secure the right to carry on the same firearms or ammunition business at the same address shown on, and for the remainder of the term of, a current license. Such persons are:

(1) The surviving spouse or child, or executor, administrator, or other legal representative of a deceased licensee; and
(2) A receiver or trustee in bankruptcy, or an assignee for benefit of creditors.

(b) In order to secure the right provided by this section, the person or persons continuing the business shall furnish the license for that business for endorsement of such succession to the Chief, Federal Firearms Licensing Center, within 30 days from the date on which the successor begins to carry on the business.

In the case of this family, the Executor appointed by the deceased FFL’s will is able to carry on the business in a lawful manner. Inventory will be reconciled, customers will be taken care of and get their purchases with only a slight delay, and the affairs of the business can be completed in an orderly manner. Again, the NFATCA does not provide legal advice. We do help our members and the public get access to the right information. We are continuously reviewing our business plans for the coming years. Have a look at your own plans now.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N1 (January 2018)
and was posted online on November 17, 2017


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