Bypassing approval by law enforcement and avoiding criminal background checks has become possible with a legal loophole found in purchasing firearms.
According to the New York Times, a rising number of gun enthusiasts are creating legal trusts in order to purchase firearms, including paraphernalia and accessories restricted by federal law. These “gun trusts” are typically intended to allow owners to legally share firearms with family, and pass them down to beneficiaries after death of the owner.
Most troubling, a spokesperson from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said that applications filed with the agency have more than doubled since 2008 attributed in large part to the growth of trusts, from about 15,000 to 32,000 applications.
These trusts pertain to National Firearms Act (NFA) firearms which, according to the ATF website, include silencers, machine guns, rifles, shotguns and any other weapon (any other weapon is defined as weapons that can be concealed on the person from which a shot is discharged through energy of an explosive).
The former Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner, who sent police on a weeklong search in February, used such a trust.
Dorner explained in his manifesto that he used a gun trust to purchase a short-barreled rifle and silencers from a store in Nevada without a background check. However, Dorner wasn’t a felon and would have passed a background check anyway.
So why was there a need to bypass it?
Dorner might have decided to use a gun trust to gain possession of these items because it would take less time. Many federal and state laws require individuals purchasing firearms to fill out applications and apply for permits. Using these trusts allow individuals to gain access to firearms bypassing paperwork, law enforcement signatures, background checks and fingerprinting.
According to information provided by Attorney Allen J. Margulis to Forbes, there are two reasons gun trusts are used. Firstly, applications and approvals can take upwards of three months, but National Firearms Act items drafted through trusts can be used by beneficiaries and trustees sooner.
Secondly is to provide information and instructions as to who will become the owner of NFA items after the original owner dies.
I understand that in a world full of instant gratification many people would experience great frustration waiting three months for paperwork to be filed. However, it took months for some of us to find out which colleges accepted our applications—for others it might take upwards of six months to find out if they will be brought on as a full-time employee after an internship.
These are firearms. Do we really need to be making the process shorter and easier?
Regulations are put in place for safety and security reasons. Background checks, fingerprinting and approval of chief law enforcement is a process many individuals have gone through in order to gain possession of their firearms. Although the process might seem to take too much time, there is no reason why these safety procedures should be bypassed.
Just type “gun trust” into the search field on Google. You might be taken back just as I was.
There is page after page of links to websites advertising lawyers who will help you with creating a gun trust. Some advertise low prices for setting up a gun trusts, flashing numbers to entice onlookers. Others flash statements about protecting assets.
Finding page after page of “quick gun trusts” is enough to make one uncomfortable. I understand that some people using these trusts might be doing so with good intentions.
On the other hand, it only takes one person abusing a system to point out such dangerous loopholes. If someone such as Dorner was able to gain somewhat seamless access to NFA firearms and use them in such a manner, what is preventing any other disgruntled person from doing the same?