Concealed Carry Reciprocity

In case you’re not familiar with it, the NRA’s website contains a treasure trove of information on concealed carry and reciprocity among states. Here’s what the reciprocity map looks like for those holding Wyoming permits:

Wyo_Reciprocity_2016-04-10_2309

 

Here’s the same map for Utah:

Utah_Reciprocity_2016-04-10_2312

 

ATF 41 F — The Official Document

I don’t think I ever posted a link to the official (or at least, the official looking) ATF 41 F as it appeared in the Federal Register. Here it is.

To refresh your memory, ATF 41F affects the firearms trusts (aka gun trusts and NFA trusts). It goes into effect on July 13, 2016. Until then, firearms trusts are the most effective and least intrusive way for you to purchase NFA items, including suppressors or silencers–in my humble opinion. After July 13, 2016, I think firearms trusts remain the best way to purchase those items, for most–but not all–the same reasons. Again, in my humble opinion.

No, the CLEO’s signature on individual applications will no longer be required, and

Yes, so-called “responsible persons” will be required to provide fingerprints and photographs, BUT

-Firearms trusts set up a structure that protects against unwise and often uninformed use/misuse of NFA firearms while you’re alive, misuse that can result in severe penalties and fines, and

-Firearms trusts establish a framework for sharing NFA items while you’re alive, a framework not available to people who purchase NFA items in their capacity as individuals, and

-Firearms trusts provide a mechanism for distributing your prized firearms to your beneficiaries when you die, again without running afoul of the law.

No, for my money, a well-drafted firearms trust remains the best way to purchase NFA firearms, now and after July 13, 2016.

A Stunning (Gun) Win for 2nd Amendment Rights

The headline in the March 22, 2016, Washington Post article says it all: “Unanimous pro-Second-Amendment stun gun decision from the Supreme Court.” Unanimous as in every justice apparently agreed with the following sentiment expressed in the per curiam opinion by the nation’s highest court.

The Court has held that “the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding,” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. 570, 582 (2008), and that this “Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the States,” McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, 750 (2010). In this case, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld a Massachusetts law prohibiting the possession of stun guns after examining “whether a stun gun is the type of weapon contemplated by Congress in 1789 as being protected by the Second Amendment.” 470 Mass. 774, 777, 26 N. E. 3d 688, 691 (2015).

The court offered three explanations to support its holding that the Second Amendment does not extend to stun guns. First, the court explained that stun guns are not protected because they “were not in common use at the time of the Second Amendment’s enactment.” Id., at 781, 26 N. E. 3d, at 693. This is inconsistent with Heller’s clear statement that the Second Amendment “extends . . . to . . . arms . . . that were not in existence at the time of the founding.” 554 U. S., at 582.

The court next asked whether stun guns are “dangerous per se at common law and unusual,” 470 Mass., at 781, 26 N. E. 3d, at 694, in an attempt to apply one “important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms,” Heller, 554 U. S., at 627; see ibid. (referring to “the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons’”). In so doing, the court concluded that stun guns are “unusual” because they are “a thoroughly modern invention.” 470 Mass., at 781, 26 N. E. 3d, at 693–694. By equating “unusual” with “in common use at the time of the Second Amendment’s enactment,” the court’s second explanation is the same as the first; it is inconsistent with Heller for the same reason.

Finally, the court used “a contemporary lens” and found “nothing in the record to suggest that [stun guns] are readily adaptable to use in the military.” 470 Mass., at 781, 26 N. E. 3d, at 694. But Heller rejected the proposition “that only those weapons useful in warfare are protected.” 554 U. S., at 624–625.

For these three reasons, the explanation the Massachusetts court offered for upholding the law contradicts this Court’s precedent. Consequently, the petition for a writ of certiorari and the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis are granted. The judgment of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts is vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered. (emphasis added)

I bolded some key words in the opinion because they are so emphatic about the meaning of the Heller decision. Who knows what the future holds–now that Justice Scalia has died–but this opinion should be comforting to those concerned about their 2nd Amendment rights. (By the way, do read the linked-to WashPo article. Eugene Voloch is an important voice on the Constitution.)

Some Things I Learned Answering Questions on a Forum for Asking Legal Questions

Yikes_2016-03-07_0843So I sometimes forget that everybody’s smart, just on different subjects. For example, I don’t know much about physics. My teachers tried, but my head could only hold so much gravity and speed of light and such. Well, today I was online in an online forum where non-lawyers posed legal questions to attorneys. These were real life people experiencing real life problems that involved the law in some way or the other.

Now let me be crystal clear: I don’t think these people are dumb. To repeat: we are all “smart,” just on different things. I happen to know a lot about the law, but boy am I at a loss about some other subjects (heck, even about some legal subjects). With that, here are a few things I learned while answering questions:

  1. Many, if not most people, don’t realize that estate taxes are no longer a concern for most of us. Did you know that you and your spouse must be worth almost $11 million before the tax man comes knocking? Yes, you may need to do some planning to make sure you take full advantage of that $11 million threshold, but still.
  2. Many people don’t realize that the First Amendment doesn’t protect them from employers, friends, parents, and the like from infringing on their free speech rights. No, the First Amendment protects us from the government infringing on our rights. And even then the right is not absolute.
  3. More than a few people confuse a living will with a plain old will, also known as a last will and testament. A living will is a document that tells your family and doctor whether you want life support and such should you become incapacity and unable to speak for yourself. A will or last will and testament is what you use to appoint guardians for your children and to give your property away when you die. You can read more here.
  4. A lot of people–especially people down on their luck financially–aren’t aware of the legal resources available to them that are free or at a reduced cost, nor are they aware of the state agencies that might be of help to them–child protective or family services, for example. For the record, in Wyoming you can go to the Wyoming State Bar to find free or reduced-rate legal services. In Utah, you should go here.  In Wyoming, you can find child and family services here.  In Utah, you’ll find them here.
  5. Finally, too many people are way too quick to pull the trigger; that is, they get angry and immediately shout “Medic!!!” I mean, “Lawyer!!!” To those I say, try to work out your problems by yourself and amicably first, especially if it’s family, then resort to the law. But the corollary to that is, if the proper response is legal, then hire an attorney. Trust me on that one.

Now where do I go to find out how fast the speed of light was back in the days of horse and buggy?

Why Not Use My Revocable Living Trust as a Gun Trust?

Question Mark_YellowI just took a call from a fellow who asked a very good question: Why not use my revocable living trust as a gun trust? The short answer to that question is, “because.”

But if that’s too short for you, here’s a longer version I gave him–in bullet points:

  • Guns are not like virtually any other property. They are regulated. Those regulations come with stiff fines and possible imprisonment if you should accidentally violate them. Gun trusts take that into account. Regular trusts don’t.
  • To transfer your home or your bank account, it’s a relatively simple matter of signing a deed or changing the name on the account. You don’t have to worry about who the transferee is and what he’s been up to lately. To transfers any firearms, you always have to be worried about what the transferee has been up to recently or even way back when because if he’s been up to no good, he could be a “prohibited person,” and you could get into trouble for selling or giving your gun to him.
  • Transferring–giving or selling–an NFA item is even more problematic. With each and every transfer, there’s fingerprints, photos, forms, signatures, and the like AND a $200 tax AND a long waiting period before you can actually, physically transfer the darn thing. What if when you die or become incapacitated, your trustee doesn’t understand that? Big problems could ensue. (Yes, I know that the transfer tax doesn’t apply when the transfer is from the estate of a decedent to a lawful heir.)
  • A well-drafted gun trust takes care of the problems I just described because it comes full of instructions and warnings about the relevant law and issues–guidance, if you will–so your trustee knows what and what not to do.
  • A well-drafted gun trust also allows for sharing of NFA items without incurring the wrath of the gun gods. I’ve yet to see a regular revocable living trust that does that.
  • Finally, know this: when you buy an NFA item using a trust, you have to send a copy of the complete trust to the BATFE, which keeps it on file. Do you want to send them your revocable living trust that names all your children, speaks of how you want to disinherit your youngest and how you want the gold buried in your backyard to go to your brother Willard and that you want $1,000,000 of your estate to go to the American Red Cross? I wouldn’t either. A well-drafted gun trust won’t disclose that kind of information.

Anyway, that’s why you don’t want to use your regular revocable living trust as a gun trust.

Empty Chamber Indicator — Update

Ok, so in my first post on the Empty Chamber Indicator, I referred rather cryptically to the television production Behind the Scenesindicating I might report back later. Well, it’s later.

Yesterday I returned to my office to find a phone message from a man asking me to call Michael Alexander, the producer of Behind the Scenes, which, it turns out, produces short informational documentaries to fill a three-minute space on PBS between the ending of one program and the beginning of another. On commercial TV, that space is filled by commercials.

As I mentioned yesterday, the list of people who’d been featured on Behind the Scenes was pretty impressive, including Colin Powell and G.H.W. Bush and many similar personalities from the world of government, business, medicine, you name it.

The phone message said that Mr. Alexander wanted to talk to me about doing a short documentary on estate planning in general, but more particularly on gun trusts (also known as NFA trusts). I was impressed. First, how did they find me? My blog? My Facebook page? LinkedIn? Other sites I’m listed on? I was also skeptical.

And then Mr. Alexander returned my call. Apparently the company’s legit. And they were interested in talking to me about doing a short documentary on gun trusts. Oh, and as part of the bargain, I needed to fork over some dollars.

Now I don’t say this disparagingly. I don’t think I was being scammed. You see, not only did they distribute their short films through PBS–some 300+ stations, according to Alexander–they also would make sure even shorter versions of the PBS documentaries were shown 50 times on any five TV stations I chose in Utah and Wyoming (I’m not sure whether that was 50 total or 50 x 5 or 250 times). And, they would also “narrowcast” the programs to targeted audiences in the Internet. That’s a lot of publicity.

But it wasn’t free. I won’t disclose the terms here because, well, because. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t cheap, though for the right firm at the right time, doing the deal with Mr. Alexander could be a good decision.

Fame is fleeting. Imagined fame even more fleeting. Oh well.

Empty Chamber Indicator

For reasons I may disclose later, I was checking out the website of the TV program Behind the Scenes. I looked at some of the program’s past episodes and guests and quickly realized that Behind the Scenes keeps some good company. I was on site, however, to see what kind of journalism the program practiced. I was particularly interested in how it covered some hot button subjects. Guns, for example.

ECIWatch the brief episode at this link and tell me what you think. If you’re interested in purchasing an Empty Chamber Indicator, the product discussed at that link, go here.

 

Quote for the Day

Failure to address the new issues raised by Rule 41F will expose owners of firearms trusts to the risk of committing a new kind of accidental felony, i.e. related to a failure to document an RP [responsible person]. Firearms trusts must be reviewed–and likely revised–to clarify the roles of the parties involved and whether or not they are RPs. If new NFA applications are made following implementation, it might be advisable to limit the number of “responsible persons” as defined by Rule 41F to avoid substantial paperwork or risking liability for unlawful transfer of an NFA firearm. The legal consequences of failing to comply with the NFA can be severe, including fines of up to $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison, as well as confiscation of the firearm(s) involved.

C. Dennis Brislawn, JD and Matthew T. McClintock, JD, WealthCounsel Federal Rules Brief: The Impact of BATF Rule 41F on Firearms Trusts

Interesting Provision in Wyoming’s Concealed Carry Statute

Wyoming Statutes Section 6-8-104 starts off on a serious note intended to get your attention–fast:

A person who wears or carries a concealed deadly weapon is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than seven hundred fifty dollars ($ 750.00), imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six (6) months, or both for a first offense, or a felony punishable by a fine of not more than two thousand dollars ($ 2,000.00), imprisonment for not more than two (2) years, or both, for a second or subsequent offense, unless: (emphasis added)

Fine. Imprisonment. Fine again. More imprisonment. All for carrying “a concealed deadly weapon.”

But ahhhh. There’s the word “unless,” and suddenly the clouds disperse and all is right with the world, so long as youIMG_2318

  • Are a peace officer, or
  • Possess a valid Wyoming concealed carry permit, or
  • Have a valid permit from a state that recognizes Wyoming’s permit, or
  • Don’t have a permit, but you “otherwise meet [certain] requirements” under 6-8-104.

That last one may come as a surprise to some. “You mean I don’t need a concealed carry permit to carry a concealed weapon in Wyoming?” they say.

Nope. That’s the magic of the bolded words “otherwise meet [certain] requirements.” Because of those words, and if you

  • Are a citizen of the U.S. and have been a resident of Wyoming for at least six months, and
  • Are at least 21, and
  • Can safely handle a firearm in spite of a “physical infirmity,” and
  • Aren’t prevented by Federal or Wyoming law from possessing a firearm, and
  • Haven’t been convicted of violating controlled substance laws or committed for abusing same, and
  • Don’t chronically or habitually abuse alcohol, and
  • Haven’t been adjudicated incompetent, and finally
  • Haven’t been committed to a mental institution,

you, my friend, can carry a concealed deadly weapon in Wyoming without a permit and consequently without fear of fine or imprisonment. That, and you save the $50.00 application fee.

But . . . But maybe you should consider going through the permit application process and paying the $50.00 fee anyway–plus the cost of a set of fingerprints. If you get stopped by the police for carrying, what would you rather do: Show them your permit and ID and be on your merry way or spend some uncomfortable time with them trying to prove that you meet the requirements I’ve outlined above? Fifty dollars seems a small price to pay to avoid that situation. Besides, try carrying out of state without a permit. Not a good idea. [Added this paragraph later same day.]

A note or two for those of you who do have a concealed carry permit: 1. If a police officer asks to see your permit, you “shall display both the permit and proper identification.” You should already know that, but an occasional reminder can’t hurt. 2. If you move or if you lose your permit or it’s destroyed, you must notify the division of criminal investigation of the Wyoming Attorney General’s office within 30 days or risk having your permit revoked.

There’s more in Wyoming’s concealed carry statute, but this should do for now.

Quote for the Day

“Think about the [gun] trust as a means to keep the client safe and legal, and to provide all of the guidance to their beneficiaries so they stay safe and legal.”

Matthew Bergstrom, attorney

The Wyoming State Bar does not certify any lawyer as a specialist or expert. Anyone considering a lawyer should independently investigate the lawyer’s credentials and ability, and not rely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise. This website is an advertisement.