The National Firearm Act (“NFA”) regulates and taxes the ownership of certain types of firearms including machine guns, suppressors, short barrel rifles, short barrel shotguns, destructive devices, etc. The ATF has an online guide to the types of weapons that are regulated by it under the NFA. The ATF also publishes an extensive book on the National Firearms Act.
An individual may own a weapon that is regulated under the NFA. Indeed, in Tennessee and in most states these items are legal to own so long as you are in compliance with federal law. (TCA 39-17-1302). Individuals, businesses, and other legally recognized entities such as trusts are eligible to purchase and own NFA firearms.
In order own a NFA weapon, the applicant must file an application – a Form 4 if you are purchasing one or a Form 1 if you want to make the ones that can be made – with the ATF. Typically, this form requires that the individual applicant provide fingerprints, photographs and a sign-off from the chief law enforcement officer. There is also a transfer tax of $200 (in most instances).
Over time, problems have arisen in Tennessee and in other states with the ATF’s requirements that certain paperwork be completed such as the law enforcement acknowledgement. In order to address these problems, it is possible to acquire the firearm in the name of a business or trust since at present the law enforcement signoff, the fingerprint cards and the photographs are not required if an “entity” rather than an individual is the owner (although ATF could change that at any time).
The trust may be the best type of entity under Tennessee law. A trust can be created under Tennessee law with minimal initial and ongoing costs. Corporations, limited liability companies and other business entities must be created by filing documents with the state and must be maintained by filing annual reports. All of these also require filing fees. A trust, under Tennessee law, is essentially a contract which does not have to be filed publicly and there are no annual reports to file.