Who is a “Responsible Person” in a NFA Gun Trust?

Who is a “Responsible Person” in a NFA Gun Trust?

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, a corporate vice president whose duties include acquiring and approving contracts with explosives distributors would be considered a responsible person. Other corporate officials whose duties do not include the power to direct the management and policies of the applicant pertaining to explosive materials, for example, a vice president responsible solely for human resources, would not typically be considered a responsible person. Each applicant for a license or permit must assess the corporate and other management responsibilities for all key personnel and determine whether or not these duties place the individual in the position of being a responsible person. [18 U.S.C. 841(s), 27 CFR 555.11: definition of "responsible person”].

Source: ATF - https://www.atf.gov/explosives/qa/who-“responsible-person” 

The responsible persons in a NFA Gun Trust are the following; the Settlor and Co-Trustees.  The successor trustee and the beneficiaries in the NFA Gun Trust are not considered to be responsible persons and don't need to fill out the ATF Form 23 "Responsible Persons" Questionnaire

NFA Gun Trust Terminology used in this article is below. 


The settlor is the person creating the NFA Gun Trust.  The settlor of the NFA Gun Trust is also considered to be a trustee.

Successor Trustee

The successor trustee has in charge of the trust upon the death of the settlor and the co-trustees.  In a NFA Gun Trust you must appoint a successor trustee.  The successor trustee can play two roles, meaning the successor trustee can also be a beneficiary in the NFA Gun Trust.  The successor trustee is not an active citizen in the NFA Gun Trust. Therefore, the successor trustee is not allowed use the NFA firearms.  They are not required to submit photo cards, fingerprint cards and the responsible persons questionnaire.  

Beneficiary - Beneficiaries 

The beneficiary or beneficiaries of the NFA Gun Trust are the citizens who will own the NFA items upon death of the settlor.  The beneficiaries must meet all of the current requirements of a responsible person in order for the beneficiary to legally own the NFA firearms. You can designate how many items in the NFA Gun Trust go to each beneficiary or you can designate a percentage.  The beneficiaries are not active members of the NFA Gun Trust.

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