Updated December 19, 2022
What if your NFA item requires repair?
During a tactical training exercise, you accidentally dropped your suppressor onto concrete; it has a visible dent, and you aren’t sure it’s safe to operate in its current condition. As we all know, NFA items aren’t cheap, and a replacement is anything but quick and easy. Can you drop off your suppressor at your favorite gunsmith and let him repair it? How do you legally repair an NFA item?
The National Firearms Act
The National Firearms Act (“NFA”) regulates and imposes a tax on the manufacture and transfer of machine guns, short-barreled weapons, suppressors, and other unique firearms, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) enforces these registrations seriously.
As any NFA item owner knows, you must keep the firearm or device at the precise address listed on the Form 41 or Form 12 (whichever is applicable) currently on file with the ATF and have copies of that form when possessing the item. You risk arrest if you fail to follow these specific regulations.
Nearly all NFA item dispositions require a specific form, including demonstrations or sales. The ATF keeps these records indefinitely. But it is important to note, the failure of the transferor and the transferee to execute the appropriate forms can result in federal felonies, heavy fines, and prison time.
The ATF stated that repairing NFA items is not a “transfer” under the law3.
Therefore, the typical transfer paperwork (Form 4) is not required. Rather, an Application for Tax Exempt Transfer and Registration of Firearm (Form 54) is recommended. There is an “Other” option on the Form 5, and repair is a valid reason that should be used in these situations.
The ATF recommends the NFA item owner complete and submit a Form 5 prior to repairs, and the licensed gunsmith do the same before returning the property to the owner. The best practice to protect against potential prosecution is to fill out and submit a Form 5, receive approval from the ATF, and then drop the item off at the gunsmith. So, don’t just drop off your suppressor with the gunsmith without the proper forms, unless you want to risk picking up a nice stay at Club Fed.
What if the Item is in an NFA Gun Trust
There are many benefits to owning an NFA gun trust, which has grown in popularity over the years. But when it comes to repairing an NFA item, the process is the same whether the item is owned by an individual or held in an NFA trust. However, if you are considering setting up an NFA gun trust, don’t hesitate to contact us at our office. Our NFA department is here to make the process as easy as possible.
Still have questions?
The attorneys at Walker & Taylor, PLLC, offer consultations to answer your legal questions. Our consultations are for Texas and related federal law.
Speak to an attorney and get answers to legal questions regarding firearms, self-defense, gun rights, or related criminal or civil law. Give us a call today at (281) 668-9957.