Inheritance And Guns: What To Do With Guns You Don’t Want Or Need

This article will be a little different from what many of you are accustomed to reading, as most of our readers are gun collectors. Instead of explaining to you how you can get more guns, we’re going to tell you how to get rid of them. Normally, this process is precisely the opposite for us.

The Devil Is In The Details

You’ve decided to will your firearms to someone, which most people would assume is a simple process. It may not be as simple as you first assume, though.

A funeral scene.
Willing firearms to someone can be a simple process or somewhat complicated, depending on various factors. If you’re in the position of receiving willed firearms, it means someone thought enough of you to leave them in your care. Photo courtesy of Country Living Magazine.

Factors such as where you live, what type of weapons are bequeathed, and the individuals inheriting them come into play. These factors might play into whether or not the recipient even wants to pursue inheriting the firearms.

If the weapons are fully automatic, short-barreled rifles (SBR), short-barreled shotguns (SBS), or silencers, they will fall under the National Firearms Act (NFA) or the Gun Control Act of 1968. They must be serial numbered and registered with the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms). The process to obtain clearance to own such firearms is long and involved.

If you’re inheriting a Thompson Submachine Gun, a full-auto M-16/M-4, or another full-auto weapon, you will be jumping through some hoops.

If the weapons are unregistered and they fall under the NFA classification, they cannot be passed down to an heir, and they can’t be registered – they are considered to be “contraband.” In such a case, if the executor of the estate discovers that they are unregistered, they must contact the ATF to arrange for said weapons to be abandoned. Which is to say, turned over to law enforcement.

World War II firearms.
Some guns are not so easy to transfer, such as fully automatic weapons; there might be some hoops to jump through. Photo courtesy of Eagle Shows.

If the firearms don’t fall under any restricted categories, the transaction can simply be run through an FFL (Federal Firearms License), which typically means a gun shop with a valid FFL. The heir has a background check conducted and then takes possession of the firearms, assuming they pass the background check.

In some states, firearms can be passed down from one family member to another. In my state of PA, even handguns can pass from one family member to another, assuming the recipient is not a felon. You can pass that 1911, Springfield pistol, or Glock down with no trouble at all.

Another way to go about the process is to name the guns in a Trust. A Trust is a way to go around the process described above, with the trust being an entity that holds the title to your firearms. Multiple trustees can be named, and they can share the right to possess and use the firearms covered by the trust.

This is just scratching the surface; trusts cannot go beyond the laws of the state where you live. It’s best to consult an experienced attorney when going this route.

The Why

Why might someone not want to inherit firearms?

For gun enthusiasts, the idea of not wanting more rifles, shotguns, or pistols seems ludicrous. But we have to remember that not everyone is a fan of firearms. Some people might be afraid of them, not understanding that guns are nothing more than mechanical tools. The media and movies have done a lot to paint a certain picture of firearms and how they operate.

Some people are ignorant of firearms, having never grown up around them and simply not knowing how they work. Guns just weren’t a part of their life, so they don’t know and/or don’t have any interest. Remember, not everyone is into the same things. Some love cars, others love sewing, and some are into gardening. People’s interests are extremely varied, so if someone isn’t into guns, they’re not necessarily a bad person (though they might bear watching).

A gun collection.
For some of us, it’s difficult to imagine why someone would not want to inherit firearms. However, there are several reasons why a person might not want them or be able to have them. Photo courtesy of Adobe.

The person inheriting the guns might have a criminal record, which could preclude them from owning guns. So, the matter might be a legal one.

Also, the state where the person lives may have laws prohibiting certain weapons, such as semi-autos. So they might not be able to own certain weapons where they live.

Still, others might need money more than they need the inherited guns, and so might choose to sell them to realize the financial gain.

Years ago, a dear friend of mine passed away in an auto accident. He owned a lot of guns. I mean, a lot. As in, several dozen. And he had over 100,000 rounds of ammo. So many cases of ammo he did have, that he stacked several cases on top of each other to make four legs for a table. There was ammo everywhere.

Upon his passing, his wife was trying to figure out what to do with all the guns. She called a local FFL dealer to come by the house and give her an estimate. I tried as best I could to tell her the fair market value for as many of the firearms as I could so she knew what she had.

Cases such as this are not unique in our society. Wives suddenly find themselves trying to figure out what to do with firearms that their late husband left behind upon his passing. Normally, it’s just a few guns, but sometimes it’s a huge collection.

Other Options

Here are a few options that some folks might consider to rid themselves of firearms:

  1. Send them to your author’s house.
  2. Sell them to a gun shop.
  3. Call your local law enforcement to surrender them.
  4. List them for sale.

Gun Shops/FFLs

Most gun shops buy, sell, and trade guns. In the event you decide you might not like to have the firearms, selling them to a gun shop might be a great option. I will throw out a word of caution on this, though. If you’re intending to get a fair value for your guns, do some research!! There is a very high percentage of gun shops out there that will be only too happy to low-ball a seller who’s looking to unload firearms. And if they sense that you’re not a “gun person.” They absolutely will take advantage of your ignorance by ripping you off in a huge way. Mind you, this isn’t all shops, but in the area where I live, the majority would do this to an unsuspecting person. Unfortunately, this is a sad commentary on gun shop owners, but it is what it is.

Local Law Enforcement

Most local law enforcement agencies have a provision for accepting unwanted firearms. It’s best to call them before simply walking in with a slew of firearms, though, to see what their procedures are for disposing of the guns.

A police department.
Most police departments will accept unwanted firearms. Be aware, though, that you’ll likely have to fill out paperwork to do so. Photo courtesy of Carey Law Office.

Those going this route will likely get either very little or no reimbursement for the weapons, however. You could be leaving hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the table, and there’s no way you’ll get anywhere near your firearms’ actual worth.

Listing Them For Sale

It used to be that listing the firearms in the local paper was one of the only options for selling firearms. Nowadays, various electronic sites can auction off or sell your guns. A bit of research will pay off here and reveal sources for you. Sometimes, word of mouth is even a viable way to sell guns. In my home state of PA, long guns can be sold face to face as this is written. Again, it’s a good idea to check your state’s laws before embarking on any sales in this manner.

Some state laws are extremely restrictive for person-to-person sales, while others make it very convenient. Hopefully, your state makes it convenient.

In Closing

If you find yourself in the position of inheriting firearms that you really don’t care for, don’t despair; you can likely turn it into a profitable solution. Face-to-face sales, gun shops, and pawn shops are a few avenues you might take to sell firearms for a profit. Some research on your part will ensure that you won’t be ripped off on the firearms’ value.

Should you be well off enough to not want to make a profit, there’s always the police station, most of which will take the firearms from you and destroy them.

Whichever route you decide to take, there are definitely constructive avenues for you to get rid of unwanted firearms should you happen to inherit them.

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities. He is a dedicated Christian and attributes any skills that he has to the glory of God.

Sign Up for Newsletter

Let us know what topics you would be interested:
© 2024 GunMag Warehouse. All Rights Reserved.
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap