Say your uncle just passed away here in Scottsdale, Arizona, and you are named personal representative under his will. You receive a copy of his will, and it says that all of his firearms in his gun safe are to go to one of his nephews, who was recently released from prison on a felony burglary charge. While acting as personal representative (PR), you get to the point in administration of your uncle’s estate where it is time to distribute all of the tangible personal property. Without really checking out the firearms, you call your cousin and tell him to come down to your office to pick up his guns that he inherited. He is more than happy to oblige, but asks you to express mail one of his firearms which he just gifted to a friend of his in Rhode Island. The next day he picks up his firearms and heads out of state for a new life, and you express mail the other firearm to his friend in Rhode Island as he requested.
Unbeknownst to you, included with the guns that you just delivered to your cousin are three Class 3 (NFA) firearms of which one is unregistered and two are registered to your uncle. The firearm you express mailed to Rhode Island is unregistered and the other two went out of state with your cousin. Could there be some real serious legal problems for you (and we won’t even address your cousin’s problems here)? You could be in for some significant fines and serious prison time before you knew what hit you, innocently as you may have thought you were acting.
The first thing you failed to do was to inspect the firearms and prepare an inventory with descriptions and serial numbers. As PR, you could have provided the branch office of ATF in Martinsburg, West Virginia with a certified copy of your appointment as PR and a copy of the firearms inventory to determine (a) if any of the firearms are Class 3 firearms and (b) if any of Class 3 firearms are unregistered. As to the unregistered Class 3 firearm, possession is illegal by anyone. Unregistered firearms are contraband and can not be registered. Had you taken this step, you would have been advised by ATF to immediately turn over possession of the unregistered firearm to the local ATF field office in Phoenix. Check my next blog for the consequences of your actions.
Michael W. Margrave