Gun Control Laws Are Under Unparalleled Scrutiny - How This May Impact Your Estate Plan if You Own Guns

October 10, 2019

With the unfortunate rise of mass shootings andschool shootings, the federal gun law and Maryland state laws face newscrutiny. With strong arguments made for both sides, the issue has many levelsof complexity in part because the right to bear arms is entrenched in thesecond amendment of the US Constitution. If you own guns, you have aresponsibility as part of your estate planning process to ensure those guns aretransferred after your death to someone who qualifies to receive them by law.

Qualifications for Purchase/Ownership

The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), whichregulates firearms at the federal level, requires that citizens and legalresidents must be at least 18 years of age to purchase shotguns orrifles and ammunition. All other firearms — handguns, for example — can only besold to people 21 and older.

Potential firearm purchasers fill out afederal form known as the ATF 4473, which checks for prior convictions andother red flags. People with priorfelony convictions that include a prison sentence exceeding one year, ormisdemeanors carrying sentences of more than two years, are also prohibitedfrom purchasing firearms. These laws refer topurchasing guns from commercial sellers and do not apply to someone who isobtaining a firearm from an individual whether it’s a purchase, inheritance oroutright gift.

Permit Requirements

Permit requirements are state specific and Maryland operates ona “May Issue” policy for issuing a permit to carry certain types of guns. Thereis no permit requirement to carry rifles or shotguns. The “May Issue” policymeans you must show good cause as to why you should have a permit and supplydocumentation to confirm your reasons for a permit to be issued.

Gun Trusts

The complexitiessurrounding gun laws and the transfer of ownership require consulting aknowledgeable attorney.  If you own firearms and plan to designateownership of those guns to another individual after your death, then a properlydrafted Gun Trust will ensure the weapons are properly distributed to the newowner(s).

Experienced Marylandestate planning attorneys know how to draft gun trusts using required languagethat shows the gun trust has every intention of complying with the Gun ControlAct and National Firearms Act.

It is recommended tocreate a gun trust, whether revocable or irrevocable, as a separate trust andnot incorporated into another trust.

Contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 in the Greater Baltimore area for more information on creating a gun trust to ensure your guns are safely and properly transferred to appropriate owners after your death.

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