It is too early to know whether a gun trust will provide any protection from charges of violating I-594. The initiative does not provide any exception for temporary sharing of firearms with trustees named in an NFA Gun Trust. The federal exception for temporary transfers of NFA restricted items to trustees has been promulgated administratively by the BATF and is not binding on Washington State.
In fact, there could be an issue as to whether even the temporary sharing of an NFA restricted item with another trustee named in your NFA gun trust violates I-594. The statute defines a transfer as follows:
(25) “Transfer” means the intended delivery of a firearm to another person without consideration of payment or promise of payment including, but not limited to, gifts and loans.
The Initiative defines a person as follows:
(17) “Person” means any individual, corporation, company, association, firm, partnership, club, organization, society, joint stock company, or other legal entity.
Trusts are not listed as persons under the definition above but might qualify. If a trust is deemed to be a person and the trust owns the item, a transfer between co-trustees might be legal without a background check. Transferring NFA items into a trust probably does not require a criminal history background check because co-trustees are required to undergo federal background checks under BATF regulations. However, when co-trustees are added after the trust is executed, bs kground checks are not required.
Non-NFA firearms, on the other hand, may not satisfy the I-594 provision that recognizes federal exceptions. Nevertheless, we are advising people that under traditional principles of trust law, NFA gun trusts should be expected to provide protection for those sharing restricted firearms with co-trustees.
We are continuing to assess these and other issues regarding the above referenced laws. Please check this website and the NFA Gun Trust site.
See also Law Office of Mark Knapp PLLC.