Anyone have any experience or knowledge?

Discussion in 'NFA Firearms & Related Items' started by Buckshot, May 20, 2009.

  1. Buckshot

    Buckshot Active Member

    May 5, 2009
    Southern AZ
    Here's a hypothetical situation for you. (No, seriously, it's just hypothetical... :eek: Jeez, tough room!) An elderly family member dies. Among their collection is found an old item that obviously falls under the NFA. You have a family story about how and where it was acquired, but no documentation of any kind. This "acquisition" took place a long time ago, but had to have taken place after the NFA. I'm guessing you would have no choice but to call the feds and explain and essentially ask them to "come pick this up." And hopefully not incur any wrath. But what if it had substantial value? You probably would never see the value because if you can't demonstrate that your family member possessed it legally, then inheritance or not, YOU can't possess it legally, (I'm guessing) and so you can't transfer (sell) it legally. But say it has substantial value because it has significant historical value. It would sure be nice to at least see it in the hands of a museum, as opposed to gathering rust in a crate (or worse) somewhere in a gov't warehouse. Anyone know of any other legal recourse except to just wave good-bye?
  2. 22dave

    22dave New Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    My father-in-law gave away what I believe to be a functional Thompson. If I were involved at the time, I would have cleaned it good, documented it with photos and buried it deep.

    No real experience or advise but to clean it and hide it.

  3. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    I'll give you a hypothetical answer to your hypothetical question.

    Let's suppose that Grandpa dies, and you find a Colt-Thompson SMG stashed in his back room, with absolutely no paperwork anywhere. Now, a Colt-made Thompson is worth between 20 and 30 grand. But you have to be able to sell it. Without paper, you can't sell it, so it is worthless. What I would do, if it was me, would be to completely strip the gun. That means take everything off the receiver except the receiver. That includes the barrel. None of those parts are "bad", they are just gun parts. Once the receiver is stripped, I would call ATF and tell them about Grandpa and the gun, and ask if they had a record of him having it registered. If they have a copy of the registration, then great. His heir can take the gun, and new paper will be made making him (you?) the new owner. If they have no paper, and you have no paper, then they will confiscate the gun (the receiver is the gun). You will be in the clear. "I found the contraband, and reported it immediately". Now, unfortunately, you do not have a 25 thousand dollar machine gun. But you do have a thousand dollar parts kit, and you don't go to jail.

    If the gun is not, currently registered (we are talking "machine gun", hypothetically, right?), there is no way to register it. It has to be destroyed.
  4. muddober

    muddober Active Member

    Sep 19, 2008
    Carson City Nevada
    Alpo: You already proved to me you know more about this NFA stuff than I do (short rifle) but I have to question your post and I mean it in the form of a question, meaning I am not saying you are wrong. I am of the understanding that if you have M16 full auto parts and you don't have a semi auto AR 15 you are OK. But if you have an AR 15 you cannot have in your possession the M16 full auto parts. My point being that once the parts are removed and assuming you still have the receiver you could be stuck. If my understanding is correct I wouldn't call anyone I would cut the receiver up with a torch or a band saw and trash it. For that reason I would not want to be in the position of having to explain why I have a receiver and not the other parts or if one admitted they had the parts they could be stuck because they are in possession of the receiver. Also I know for a fact that lying to a federal agent in the course of any investigation is a felony. Just ask Martha Stewart. The feds (they do every day IE Nancy Pelosi) can lie to us with absolute impunity but not the other way around. What say you?

    Last edited: May 27, 2009
  5. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    While the ATF is of the opinion that if you own an AR, and you buy M16 parts, you are going to make the machine gun, but I think, in this hypothetical scenario, that would not apply. If you come across contraband, you are supposed to call ATF and turn it in. You, legally, cannot destroy the gun. You have to turn it in to them for destruction. Also, there is a 50/50 chance the gun is legal. If they destroy it, they might as well have set a match to a pile of hundred dollar bills. Without Grandpa's paper, the only way to know if it is papered is to ask ATF. I'm absolutely sure about that part.

    Now, as for the "strip the receiver before calling", I'm 95% sure that would be legal. GCA68 defines a gun as the receiver. NFA34 calls different parts of the gun "the gun" depending on what type gun it is. For my MP5, the trigger pack is the gun. I can remove it from my MP5A3 and stick it in an HK94, and the 94 will be a completely legal machinegun. My MP5, however, will now be an illegal SBR. With a Thompson, the receiver is the gun. You can buy a parts kit that has every single part of the gun, except the receiver. So, I think my hypothetical suggestion to strip it down to the receiver, and then to turn the receiver in, would be legal.
  6. muddober

    muddober Active Member

    Sep 19, 2008
    Carson City Nevada
    Alpo, thank you for sharing the knowledge.

  7. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    I have been discussing this with a friend who is wiser in the ways of NFA than I. He suggests that, in this hypothetical situation, if you could not find Grandpa's paper, to do as I suggested - strip the gun. Then have a lawyer (preferably one that is NFA-wise) contact ATF. If ATF finds paper, then well and good. Do death-transfer, and put the gun back together. If ATF cannot find paper, then lawyer turns receiver/contraband over to them. ATF can't come after you - they don't know who you are. Lawyer can't tell them. Lawyer/client privilege. And you still have the parts kit.

    If you contact ATF directly, they SHOULD NOT take any kind of action against you, but there is always the young, upwardly mobile-type out there that feels that making a good "machinegun bust" will get him noticed/promoted. The risk of that is real (which is one more reason why the citizens of this country fear/distrust the police agencies of this country).

    He also suggested that, if there is no record of it being papered, you could donate it to a police agency or a museum.
  8. Buckshot

    Buckshot Active Member

    May 5, 2009
    Southern AZ
    Great discussion. Thanks for your opinions. Honestly, I am not in this position. Just curious. The "strip it down" suggestion was one I hadn't considered. I think if absolutely no one else knew about the item, and you were fairly certain an official search would not reveal any paper, that might be the best course. Leave you with a "parts kit." Otherwise, too many potential problems. Call 'em and say, come get this thing. Stand at the curb and wave bye.

    That last remark is the thing I wondered most about though. Say it had substantial historical value...would it even be possible to get it into the hands of a firearms or other museum? I'm not sure there's any way to do that.
  9. Roughrdr

    Roughrdr Member

    May 16, 2004
    North Carolina
    Actually had this happen about 10 years ago when My grandmother passed on. We were going through her possessions and found a BAR in a trunk in the basement. I nor my parents had never seen it. I stripped it to the receiver, which had the serial, and called the local ATF office inquiring about it.

    No paper work was able to be found and they picked it up a few days later, only questions I was asked was where the rest of it was. I only told them that this is the way I found it. The agent that showed up was fairly nice about the whole thing, and he really didn't want to have to do whatever it is that they do when they take it back to their office.

    Kinda wish it was papered, cause then the transfer to the next living relative is free. Form 5 I think it is.
  10. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    That makes sense. Grandpa buys (or keeps as a souvenir) a BAR, then he dies so it stays with Grandma's stuff (like my father's tools stayed with Mama, after he died). But when you first read that - my grandmother died and in a trunk in the basement we found a machine gun - it's just - WOW. Go Granny. :)

    And, yes, it's a Form 5.
  11. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    I thought that there might be a possibility of registering the gun as an option, it's not.
    May a private citizen who owns an NFA firearm which is not registered have the firearm registered?

    No. The NFA permits only manufacturers, makers, and importers to register firearms. Mere possessors may not register firearms. An unregistered NFA firearm is a contraband firearm, and it is unlawful to possess the weapon. The possessor should contact the nearest ATF office to arrange for its disposition.

    From the same source: Some examples of the types of firearms that must be registered are:

    Machine guns;

    The frames or receivers of machine guns;
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2009
  12. 45nut

    45nut Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    Well, if I had found it in Grandma's trunk and no one else was there or they didn't know what it was................... ain't no way that dude does anything but go to my hidey hole with surplus ammo and extra magazines. That could come in handy in the next couple of years. :eek: :D
  13. FM258

    FM258 New Member

    May 31, 2009
    That would be the last thing I would do.
  14. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    Agreed. I don't know if it's legal or not, but maybe it could be donated to a musem in your grandfathers name.

    JUNKKING Well-Known Member

    The agent that showed up was fairly nice about the whole thing, and he really didn't want to have to do whatever it is that they do when they take it back to their office.

    They lock it up for awhile and then the agent can petition to keep the gun. I'm sure this happens in the ATF too as it does in a lot of local pd's. Possibly it could go to a training facility or could even be destroyed. It really makes you think and it is a hard decision to do the right thing. BUt doing the wrong thing may result in a long vacation in a federal prison.
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