Understanding ATF Rule 41F: The Key to Safety with NFA Items

When ATF Rule 41F was created, it kicked off a whirlwind of controversy. Why? Because it completely changed the way that NFA applications are handled and processed. Not only did it add new forms to the application process, but it applied new definitions, as well.

New Terms, New Rules

These included both “person” and “Responsible Person.” So, just what is a Responsible Person, anyway? The ATF defines a Responsible Person as:

“Federal explosives laws define a ‘responsible person’ as an individual who has the power to direct the management and policies of the applicant pertaining to explosive materials. Responsible persons generally include sole proprietors and explosives facility site managers. 

“In the case of a corporation, association, or similar organization, responsible persons generally include only those corporate directors/officers, and stockholders, who have the power to direct management and policies as they pertain to explosive materials.”

For example, let’s assume there’s a corporate vice president of a company who has the duty of acquiring and approving explosives contracts with distributors. This person would be considered a Responsible Person.

A corporate individual who handles other aspects of the company, like human resources, and one who doesn’t handle issues related to explosives, would not be considered a Responsible Person. 

To be designated as such, the duties of each key personnel individual within the corporation must be assessed to determine who is and isn’t a Responsible Person.

Let’s take a moment to look at a few examples of Responsible Persons:

  • Settlors/Grantors
  • Board members
  • Beneficiaries*
  • Members
  • Trustees
  • Partners
  • Owners
  • Officers

* This only applies if said beneficiary is one who has the capability to exercise the use of your firearms.

Furthermore, the definition within ATF Rule 41F treats a trust differently than whenever it is applied to a corporation or LLC. The ATF’s current trusts include updated verbiage using NFA Division guidance.  

Gun trusts, regardless of whether they have previously been approved for an NFA transfer that was signed before July 23, 2019, must have an amendment. This is done in order to avoid any possible kickback or delayed processing of an NFA application.  

Note: You only need a trust amendment if you currently have a pending NFA application or if you are filing a new application that uses an ATF trust that is dated before July 23, 2019. Previously approved applications will not be affected in any way.

Clarifying the Confusion

If you look around online at bloggers or industry insiders, it doesn’t take you long to find that many are in the mindset that NFA trusts are no longer needed. Amazingly, you will even read or hear many of these same types proclaiming that your current gun trust is essentially worthless.

Of course, this simply isn’t the case at all. Like anything else, there is always another side to the story. If any changes in the law were to occur, there would have to be adjustments to both the behavior and to any corresponding legal documents.  

Ask any reputable gun trust organization and you’ll quickly learn that most agree that NFA trusts are designed for change. As such, modern gun trusts are the best way to protect what is yours, both for you and your family. 

Gun trusts are needed to ensure that your firearms are easily passed on to those you named in your trust. If something happens to you, you could be putting your loved ones at risk for legal headaches if you don’t have a solid gun trust set up.

Back to ATF Rule 41F. We know that when it was implemented, it added both person and Responsible Person. Essentially, anyone you plan on adding to the trust must undergo some background screening.

Things like fingerprints, photographs of the individuals, and a background check must be submitted to ensure the validity of the trustees you added to your gun trust. ATF Rule 41F certainly ruffled some feathers in adding these provisions, but it’s easy to understand why. 

In this day and age, security is high in just about everything that we do. Of course, gun trusts are going to be subject to such security updates. The trustees within your gun trust are still able to possess and carry the firearms within the trust.

They just have to go through some more rigorous verification in order to legally do so. Failure to adhere to these new provisions will delay the approval process and reject your application until you follow suit and play by the new rules.

ATF Rule 41F isn’t to make things hard on you or your family. It is simply a security guideline to ensure the safety of those whom you wish to be allowed to handle your NFA firearms. So yes, ATF Rule 41F does indeed instill a new set of guidelines for you to follow in the application process. 

But it’s an easy enough process to complete. Furthermore, your local Chief Law Enforcement Officer will be notified of the ATF Rule 41F. Any other associated ATF forms must be submitted along with each Responsible Person application, along with a copy of the trust and your transfer tax payment. 

During this time, the NFA Branch will perform a background check on each Responsible Person. As such, you will need to wait until you receive approval for these individuals. This is all necessary for anyone who wants to share their firearms with other individuals. 

Doing so without legal documentation or trusts will surely result in legal consequences for you and the person illegally carrying your firearm. This is a crime, after all, and needs to be handled correctly by adhering to the proper channels and guidelines for adding a Responsible Person to your trust. 

In any other situation, no one can legally possess or carry your firearms. Other than having a solid trust put into place, you won’t be able to get around someone else handling your firearms in such a manner. 

Why You Need a Gun Trust

Proactive planning goes a long way in ensuring that your firearms are legally cared for in the unfortunate event that something should happen to you. Having a gun trust in place allows you to name certain individuals to take ownership of your firearms if you were to pass away or become incapacitated to where you can no longer care for your weaponry.

Don’t let your loved ones get trapped in a legal battle over your firearms without any legal recourse. A solid gun trust from GunTrust NFA will ensure that your firearms are well taken care of.

This online service will allow you to save hundreds of dollars on gun trust fees that you would normally have to pay an attorney to do for you. Save yourself the time, money, and hassle and do it all online in a matter of minutes without ever leaving your home. 

It’s safe, fast, and effective. What’s more, you will have the peace of mind that you have full control of your new trust so that you can make any appropriate changes if need be. Want to remove a trustee or add one at a later date? Our gun trusts allow you to easily do so without the usual delays and red tape. 

If you are a fellow gun owner, chances are you are going to want to take advantage of ATF Rule 41F. This will allow you to share your firearms with trusted family and friends. You will need a corresponding ATF tax stamp form accompanying the NFA firearm, but that Responsible Person will now have the legal right to possess and carry your firearm named in the gun trust. 

What’s more, you can name more than one trustee if you so desire, giving multiple Responsible Persons the right to your firearms. Furthermore, you can make changes to the length of time such a person can carry or possess said firearms and limit their power to do so.

You Make the Rules

This doesn’t mean that person has the right to all of your firearms; only the ones that you deem OK for such a purpose. And you want to remember that this doesn’t include beneficiaries. If you want to allow anyone to possess or carry your firearm, you’re going to have to name them as a trustee and file ATF Rule 41F.

After which, a background check will be performed once the ATF has received all of the forms and information outlined above. With everything properly submitted, you can look forward to your application going through and getting approved without any delays.

It is important to understand your state and local laws before compiling a gun trust and filling out ATF Rule 41F. Some state laws supersede the federal mandates assigned by the ATF and ATF Rule 41F. Your state may prohibit ATF Rule 41F from being used, so always make sure that you double-check your local laws before advancing to these applications and requests. 

You may also want to consider limiting how many trustees are named in your trust. This will effectively limit the number of Responsible Persons so that your trust and ATF Rule 41F go through without a hitch.

You may need to think about appointing trustee-beneficiaries to ensure that some persons have limited use or for a limited amount of time. You can do your part to speed up ATF Rule 41F by removing any trustees whom you deem to be non-essential to your trust. 

You can always add them back in after you received approval for your application and get your corresponding tax stamp from the ATF. If you wish to appoint a trustee to your trust or assign a beneficiary, you are going to need to file an ATF Rule 41F.

As you can imagine, this can make things a bit complicated in the application approval process. It’s best to get approval first and then make changes later to ensure fewer potential hassles and headaches during the approval of ATF Rule 41F and other corresponding ATF forms.

What is great about ATF Rule 41F and the approval of your application is that there isn’t a requirement for you to update the ATF on any future trustees that you decide to add later. 

In short, it’s always a good idea to invest in a gun trust to ensure the safe and legal process of another individual transferring or possessing your firearms. There are plenty of benefits to doing so. But perhaps most importantly is that you will have legal documentation showing that another individual has a right to your firearms. 

Simply put, there is no legal way to let a friend or family member borrow or use your guns for any reason without a legally binding gun trust. Sure, it can get a little irritating having to fill out new forms and documents for your firearms.

But ATF Rule 41F is now an essential part of the application approval process and must be adhered to if you want to be sure that you are following the rules. Not only will ATF Rule 41F ensure the safety and legality of your firearms, but it will also ensure the legal transition of your firearms for your trusted friends and family members.

All Changes Affecting Trusts or Legal Entities

Remember, the changes to ATF Rule 41F will affect you if you are applying as a trust or legal entity so that you can create and register an NFA firearm on ATF Form 1.

You will also be affected if you are receiving an NFA firearm in a trust’s name or other legal entity if you are the transferee on ATF Forms 4 or 5.

The following are the changes that are affected by the application:

All Responsible Persons who are named in the trust or legal entity will have to undergo a background check.

Furthermore, all Responsible Persons will need to attach a photograph and provide two fingerprint cards. These are needed to allow for the background check to commence. Without them, said check won’t be able to be initiated by the ATF, and your ATF Rule 41F will be kicked back to you. 

At this juncture, you will be asked to provide the information that you failed to include, further delaying the approval of your application. If you are looking to get the fastest response time possible and get your application approved, it’s best to make sure that you have included everything that the ATF has asked of you. 

You’re going to have to submit it eventually if you are serious about getting approval for your application, so it’s best to just get it over with and send all of the necessary information the first time around. 

The proper ATF Forms that correspond with Responsible Persons include ATF Form 5320.23 and FD-258. The former is the paperwork that includes the photo of the Responsible Person(s), while the latter is for the fingerprints of the Responsible Person(s).

If you need to get your hands on fingerprint cards, you can order them directly from the ATF Distribution Center. These come from their online Distribution Center Order Form and can be acquired by contacting them at either (703) 870-7526 or (703) 870-7528. Additionally, if you create a gun trust with Gun Trust NFA, we’ll include any number of fingerprint cards for you in your trust packet.

It’s also important to mention that past verbiage in the ATF Rule 41F listed the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) certification as just that: Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) certification.

However, the updated ATF Rule 41F lists it as CLEO notification. The individual who is the applicant of ATF Form 1, as well as the transferees on ATF Forms 4 and 5 will need to fill out a copy of the application and forward it to their local Chief Law Enforcement Officer. 

This is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer who resides in the same area as those listed above from ATF Forms 1, 4, and 5. Additionally, all Responsible Persons will need to forward a copy of the ATF Form 5320.23 to the same Chief Law Enforcement Officer.  

Changes Made After July 12, 2016

There were a few modifications to ATF Rule 41F that took place on July 13, 2016. These include an addition that states that all applicants who are going to create or transfer NFA firearms will need to submit new ATF Forms 1, 4, and 5. 

Furthermore, ATF Form 5320.23 will need to be submitted by all Responsible Persons of a trust or legal entity. ATF Form 5320.23 is the fingerprint card form that must be submitted in order to allow the ATF to run background checks on all named Responsible Persons.

Also after this date, certification from the Chief Law Enforcement Officer is no longer a requirement. However, all applicants are required to send them a copy of the application that states they will be creating or transferring NFA firearms in any capacity.

While this may sound like a simple formality, it is still a necessary component that needs to be adhered to in order for you to get approval on your ATF Rule 41F and all other corresponding applications. 

It’s also important to note that all applications that are postmarked after July 13, 2016, will be handled and processed in compliance with the new rules and regulations discussed in the updated ATF Rule 41F.

As you can see, the ATF Rule 41F may be a bit of an extra step to complete, it’s main purpose is to ensure the safety and responsibility of citizens and NFA firearms. We hope this guide has been helpful!