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Inheriting firearms from out of state

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Aleksei, Mar 6, 2018.

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  1. Aleksei

    Aleksei Member

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    Howdy all,

    I'm a resident of Texas and my uncle lives in California. He's a great guy and I love him dearly, but sometimes he does things that are absolutely infuriating, like hide stage IV metastatic cancer until he's so sick that he can't get out of bed and needs hospice care. I'm flying out tomorrow evening to spend a few days with him and will be returning this weekend.

    The marginally less dim side of things is that he has said that I can have his guns, which include a few pistols and a rifle or two. While I try to take my time and figure things out for myself, legal code is just so complex and obtuse that even non-dyslexics have difficulty understanding it. I would like some advice (ideally with references to pertinent legal code) from you guys about how to transfer his guns to me without becoming a criminal.

    From what I understand, since my uncle is still alive and doesn't have an official written will, any transfer of firearms from him to me would be considered a gift between residents of different states and therefore require an FFL in the receiving state (i.e. my state, Texas) to process the transaction.
    Is this correct, or does the fact that I am visiting him and could potentially take the firearms with me back change the requirement for an FFL (I think that I've read somewhere that picking up in person and driving home firearms is legal)?
    If I do need to go through a Texas FFL, how do I go about shipping firearms? The laws I've read seem kind of hard to understand. It seems that shipping a rifle or shotgun through the mail is no problem, but shipping handguns requires using a "private common or contract carrier" and needs to be shipped from an FFL to an FFL?

    From everything I've read it sounds like the best option to get the guns to Texas is to pick them up in California, take them to an FFL, and then ask the CA FFL to ship them to another FFL in Texas, but if there's any way to simplify and make the process cheaper, then I would love to hear it.

    I hope you all have a good day,
    Aleksei
     
  2. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator Staff Member

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    Welcome to THR and my condolences.

    Yes.

    No to both questions.

    • The fact that you're visiting him doesn't change the fact that the guns need to be transferred to you through a Texas FFL.

    • And no you could not pick up the guns in person and drive them back -- unless you wanted to become eligible for a long stretch in federal prison.
    Note that as you describe the situation you are not inheriting any guns. An inheritance would take place if (1) the guns were bequeathed to you in a written will satisfying all the requirements under California law necessary for the will to be considered valid; and (2) the person who made the will has died; and (3) all formalities, such as any required probate, have been complied with.
     
  3. Aleksei

    Aleksei Member

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    Thank you for confirming for me.

    Now here's a follow-up question or two; is there any paperwork that he needs to fill out, or is it just go to FedEx and ship guns to a Texas FFL? Do the guns need to be shipped from an FFL in California, and if so does he need to be present? He's bedridden, so to get the guns shipped would require either me or someone else to ship them, and something just seems sketchy about someone shipping someone else's guns to an FFL in order for them to be transferred to me.

    Thanks again for your help.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
  4. Locochief

    Locochief Member

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  5. George P

    George P Member

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    Whether or not he needs to use an FFL (or you taking them to either FFL or Fedex), is up to your receiving FFL in TX (not against the law, but some won't accept guns from a non-FFL) and whether or not CA law requires it for out-bound out of state shipments.
     
  6. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator Staff Member

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    Irrelevant.

    First, the OP said his uncle doesn't have a formal written will. It can't be a bequest without a valid will. That's what a bequest is -- a gift of personal property under a will.

    Second, the OP said his uncle is still alive. But a will doesn't take effect until the testator (the guy who made the will) dies and all probate related formalities have been taken care of.

    Please don't give out bad legal advice. You could get someone into a lot of trouble.
     
  7. danez71

    danez71 Member

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    Maybe Frank will comment on this as to whether it's doable.

    I think you may be able to do a quick and very limited in scope living power of attorney (I forgot the legal term) limited to firearms. Signed & notarized (mobile notaries are plentiful and inexpensive)

    I'm sure you can get it drawn up quickly but I don't know if it needs to be filed with CA.

    Take that and the guns to an FFL in CA and ship them to you in TX.

    Good luck and best wishes.
     
  8. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator Staff Member

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    No, I'm afraid I'm going to pass on that.

    The thing is that in my mind it's unclear that a power of attorney necessarily allows someone to take temporary custody of a California resident's guns for the purpose of shipping the guns to an FFL for transfer. This is a controversial subject, and I know that some FFLs are convinced that it works.

    But I see potential issues under both California law and federal law. I haven't seen any controlling authority which addresses those issues, nor have I seen any formal arguments based on whatever authority might be out there supporting the practice.

    The best I can do is suggest that the OP, if he wants to be safe, hire a firearms attorney in California for help.
     
  9. danez71

    danez71 Member

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    Thanks Frank. I wasnt meaning for you to offer legal advice.... more of 1st pass as something worth exploring. I worded it poorly.

    And I also forgot to say... CA is a tangled mess in this regard for people that aren't well versed in CA gun laws. Best to hire an attorney.

    You did help me though too.... my mom now lives in TX and I'm in CA. She has a living power of attorney type thing drawn up with me as the designee.
     
  10. JTHunter

    JTHunter Member

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    Good luck Aleksei. You have a real "can of worms" to deal with there.
     
  11. Aleksei

    Aleksei Member

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    Thank you all for the advice. Worst case is that my aunt (or whoever inherits anything not specified in a will, I assume that it's the spouse) will have to gift them to me after he passes. All I'm hoping is that he's able to hold on until tomorrow so that I can see him.
     
  12. George Dickel

    George Dickel Member

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    Would it be legal for a CA FFL who is willing to come to the uncle's home to get the firearms to ship to a TX FFL? Even if he charged a couple hundred bucks to make the trip it would be worth it. I can't see it being any different than the uncle bringing them into the gun shop to be shipped unless there is a stupid CA law forbidding it.

    I just noticed a post saying that the uncle may pass before the OP can get there so I guess my suggestion won't work.
     
  13. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, of course the guns will still need to be shipped to an FFL in Texas to transfer to you.
     
  14. Aleksei

    Aleksei Member

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    Yeah. The same process, but with someone who can leave the house.
     
  15. Leader

    Leader Member

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    Why is it ok for an unlicensed driver of a delivery truck to deliver or your guns to a FFL & it isn't legal for me to deliver them to that same FFL?
     
  16. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator Staff Member

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    1. It's not just some random guy with a truck. Guns are shipped via common carriers (e. g., UPS or FedEx). Common carriers are licensed and regulated by state agencies and the federal Department of Transportation.

    2. The law is what it is.

    3. Whatever is done and however it is done will need to comply with the Gun Control Act of 1968 (including 18 USC 922(a)(3) and 18 USC 922(a)(5)) together with any applicable state laws. In deciding whether or not a contemplated course of conduct might be legal under applicable law will depend on (1) exactly what's being done; (2) how it's being done; (3) who is doing it; (4) where it's being done; and (5) any other material facts.
     
  17. langenc

    langenc Member

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    I suspect this case is complicated by CA being involved!!!!










    iii
     
  18. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator Staff Member

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    I originally deleted this post in haste. But on reflection it warrants some exploration.

    Yes this is a complicated situation, but there are a number of factors which make it complicated -- not just the involvement of California law.

    1. First, this is an interstate transfer -- a transfer from a resident of one State to a resident of another. That makes the transfer subject to federal law (the Gun Control Act of 1968) generally requiring that such transfers go through an FFL.

    2. This is an inter vivos (while the transferor is alive) transfer. Therefore the parties can't take advantage of favorable treatment under federal law of transfers by bequest or through intestate succession.

    3. There is no will, so if the transfer winds up taking place after the transferor's death the disposition of the guns is somewhat up in the air. It's also unclear what the transferor's current mental circumstances are and whether he could at this date make a valid will.

    4. California has some rules about private transfers which could complicate having a third party assume responsibility for packing and shipping the guns to a Texas FFL for transfer to the nephew. California is not unique in that regard, and this could be an issue in a number of other States as well.
     
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