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Old October 27, 2012, 07:06 PM   #1
Timindc
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Help with Multi-State Gun Purchase Laws

Hi,

My name is Tim and I am new here. Was looking for a place to ask this question and TFL seemed like a nice general firearm forum. In any case....

I live in Washington DC (yeah yeah, I know!) and have a second part time / vacation property in Florida. When I was younger and in the military I enjoyed shooting with friends at a range or someplace we set up for target practice. I am now semi-retired (yea!) and just work part time on some consulting gigs in DC anymore.

When I moved to DC 30 years ago I had two rifles and a hand gun. There was no place really to shoot in the immediate DC area however and the city was/is not very firearm friendly. So I sold the three firearms I had at the time. There still isn't any place nearby to shoot at, so I have no desire to have any type of firearm in DC.

But there are places around my Florida place to shoot and some gun clubs and whatnot. But I have given myself a headache trying to figure out how I can buy any firearms. I don't know exactly what I want yet since I am not going to go shopping until I can figure out how to buy something.

For the sake of discussion, let's say I want to buy one rifle and one hand gun since I know the laws are different between hand guns and long guns. We have a grand total of one FFL here in DC and he charges something like $200 to transfer each gun. I was in the military and they accept veterans for ownership in DC without much additional work. I think I might still have to watch a film take a short written test but I do not need to go through any certified training to register a gun in DC. And pay the local FFL an absurd fee for transfer of each firearm.

But like I said, I don't want the gun in DC. I want to store and use it in Florida. So how the do I go about buying either a handgun or rifle to use in Florida???

Do I have to get the paperwork in DC to buy the gun, transfer it to the FFL in DC, and then transport it down to Florida myself the next time I go there? It just really seems stupid and there has got to be a better way!

For long guns, there isn't technically any Federal or State laws restricting my purchase. And I technically don't have to have the DC form ready for the dealer to fill out and sell me a rifle. (Oh, by the way, there are no gun shops in DC so I can't buy any type of firearm "in state".) In practice though, the gun shops in VA and MD want the form from DC MPD stating that I met DC requirements to buy a long gun. And from my understanding, any place outside of VA and MD will not let me buy any type of firearm because they just don't want to mess with the problems.

So if I go to a Sporting Goods store or Wally World in Florida, from what I have heard they will not even sell me buy any type of firearm. I guess I could drag a lawyer with me and make a stink about it and probably eventually end up being able to buy a rifle. But it seems most places don't know the laws very well and just find it easier to say no.

A handgun seems near impossible however without doing what I described earlier (i.e. get the registration paperwork to buy, pay the rip-off FFL in DC to transfer the handgun, then take it down to Florida myself. And I am supposed to notify DC MPD that I still own the handgun but transferred it out-of-state yet still present the firearm to MPD every three years for registration renewal or else I am guilty of a some sort of firearm felony and no longer allowed to own or buy a gun...

Help! Does anyone know how I can shoot at a soda can in Florida without loosing my mind????
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Old October 27, 2012, 08:30 PM   #2
Tom Servo
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Rifles and shotguns can be purchased across state lines. Since they're being kept in Florida, I don't see an issue.

The sticky part involves handguns:

Quote:
If a person maintains a home in 2 States and resides in both States for certain periods of the year, he or she may, during the period of time the person actually resides in a particular State, purchase a handgun in that State. However, simply owning property in another State does not qualify the person to purchase a handgun in that State.
[27 CFR 478.11]
If you have residence in Florida, you can buy handguns there. Most dealers will require a Florida driving license or state ID with your Florida address.
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Old October 27, 2012, 10:00 PM   #3
Aguila Blanca
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While Tom is undoubtedly correct that most FFLs will want a driver's license from Florida to prove residency, that isn't what the law says. The BATFE maintains a FAQ site, and this question is specifically addressed there. The FAQ cites the Federal law cited by Tom. What the law says is that, if you own a vacation residence in Florida, whenever you are residing in that residence you ARE a resident of Florida and can purchase firearms in Florida.

You might need to print out copies of the law and the BATFE FAQ and visit a few FFLs to discuss it, but one would hope there will be a way some one of them will be willing to follow the law if you can provide satisfactory evidence that you own the residence and that you actually live there part-time.
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Old October 27, 2012, 10:09 PM   #4
Timindc
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I checked into the long gun issue. Like I mentioned, even though it is legal to buy a long gun out of state, the common experience of residents from DC is that stores will not even sell them long guns.

Google it and you'll find a couple of stories along those lines. Of course if one is successful in buying a long gun they are unlikely to write about a problem buying the gun. But it seems to be at least somewhat common that stores will not sell even a long gun to someone with a DC license, much less a handgun.

...maybe I should just find a local gun show!

Last edited by Timindc; October 27, 2012 at 10:22 PM.
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Old October 27, 2012, 11:19 PM   #5
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timindc
...the common experience of residents from DC is that stores will not even sell them long guns....
Have a look again at post 2. You appear to have dual residency. While you are in Florida, making your home there, as far as ATF is concerned you are a resident of Florida and my purchase a gun in Florida as a resident. Let's have a look at the entire ATF regulation defining "State of residence" (27 CFR 478.11):
Quote:
State of residence. The State in which an individual resides. An individual resides in a State if he or she is present in a State with the intention of making a home in that State. If an individual is on active duty as a member of the Armed Forces, the individual's State of residence is the State in which his or her permanent duty station is located. An alien who is legally in the United States shall be considered to be a resident of a State only if the alien is residing in the State and has resided in the State for a period of at least 90 days prior to the date of sale or delivery of a firearm. The following are examples that illustrate this definition:

Example 1.

A maintains a home in State X. A travels to State Y on a hunting, fishing, business, or other type of trip. A does not become a resident of State Y by reason of such trip.

Example 2.

A is a U.S. citizen and maintains a home in State X and a home in State Y. A resides in State X except for weekends or the summer months of the year and in State Y for the weekends or the summer months of the year. During the time that A actually resides in State X, A is a resident of State X, and during the time that A actually resides in State Y, A is a resident of State Y.

Example 3.

A, an alien, travels on vacation or on a business trip to State X. Regardless of the length of time A spends in State X, A does not have a State of residence in State X. This is because A does not have a home in State X at which he has resided for at least 90 days.
Your issue will be establishing your Florida residency to the satisfaction of an FFL or as required by Florida law.
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Old October 28, 2012, 01:39 PM   #6
Timindc
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Agreed. And it seems to make sense. But how DOES one go about proving the part time residence in the second state? The place in Florida isn't deeded specifically in my name to complicate matters further! (Long story but suffice it to say that the property is held in a trust created by my parents so that my brother and sister could also use the place. So the deed says the XYZ Family Trust for the ownership.)

Guess I could get my brother and sister to put all the Utility bills specifically in my name. (Great they'd say while adding that I can pay them all in my name too!

But would an electric and water bill be enough to prove the part-time residency?
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Old October 28, 2012, 02:23 PM   #7
Aguila Blanca
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You may have a problem -- you don't own the Florida property, and I assume you don't pay rent. I would suggest that the next time you are in Florida you have a consultation with a Florida attorney who is knowledgeable in the area of firearms law.

Your posts are not clear as to where your primary residence is today. If your work in DC is only a few part-time consulting gigs, do you mostly live in FL and go to DC only when you have an assignment, or are you still mostly in DC? If you live primarily in FL, why haven't you changed your driver's license and voter registration to FL? That would eliminate the problem.

Last edited by Aguila Blanca; October 28, 2012 at 10:38 PM. Reason: typo
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Old October 28, 2012, 03:24 PM   #8
Timindc
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I own my house in DC and maintaining my residency in DC reduces my real estate taxes significantly. The house in Florida me, my brother, and my sister each keep a bedroom and the rest of the house is like a common area. I typically spend about 70% of my time in DC, but that is entirely dependent upon the contracts I am currently working on. I do computer consulting and a choice job is one that I can do almost entirely off site and just show up for status meetings at the firm with the contract. I'll do all the work from Florida and travel up to DC for a day every other week. I see myself taking more of the off-site jobs in the future. In most cases it is just so much hassle any longer trying to work at a client's facility.
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Old October 31, 2012, 08:42 AM   #9
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I would get copies of the trust documents and the actual deed to the house. I would guess that your name is somewhere in the trust documents.

Then I would take these down to the ATF offices the next time you're in FL. Talk to them and establish that you do indeed meet the requirements of being a resident while in state. Ask if they could verify this for an FFL over the phone so that you may carry out your purchase. Something in writing would be even better.

FTF deals are another option- the issues are finding what you want and not being able to show someone state ID if they ask.
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Old October 31, 2012, 09:20 AM   #10
Timindc
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I am not that intimately familiar with the gun buying process, but one can just walk into your local ATF office and ask for help? Never heard of a Federal Gov Agency being that accommodating on a personal basis!

Doing a FTF deal was on my list of possibilities for the long gun. Frankly, that's probably what I'll end up doing for the long gun and just forget about owning a handgun for the present. Just too much hassle with the handgun. Always wanted to try my hand at skeet shooting which looks fun. I actually for once had a chance to watch skeet shooting at the last Olympics so who knows -- maybe with enough practice I can make the next Olympic team!
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Old October 31, 2012, 10:06 AM   #11
AH.74
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Quote:
I am not that intimately familiar with the gun buying process, but one can just walk into your local ATF office and ask for help? Never heard of a Federal Gov Agency being that accommodating on a personal basis!
I haven't actually walked in to my local office, but I have called them on a few occasions as I hold an 03 FFL and they are indeed accommodating and helpful. I would recommend calling them up and talking to them at the very least. It would certainly be in your best interests to be able to make purchases in local stores, if you so desire.

I wouldn't be put off by the technicalities- if it's legal you have the perfect right to do what you want. And if that means being able to walk into a gun store and buy whatever suits you, I think you should make that happen. But that's just me.
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Old November 2, 2012, 11:28 AM   #12
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AH.74
I wouldn't be put off by the technicalities- if it's legal you have the perfect right to do what you want. And if that means being able to walk into a gun store and buy whatever suits you, I think you should make that happen. But that's just me.
But the issue is whether or not it IS legal, isn't it? If the OP owned the Florida residence, there should be no question. But .. he does NOT (apparently) own the Florida residence, and that puts the entire situation into murky territory. I think approaching the BATFE is perhaps the only way to obtain a defining opinion, but I would submit the question by letter. That way, if the answer is favorable, it will be in the form of a letter than can be shown to FFLs in Florida.
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Old November 2, 2012, 12:59 PM   #13
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aguila Blanca
...I think approaching the BATFE is perhaps the only way to obtain a defining opinion, but I would submit the question by letter...
Asking in writing is a good idea. But it's important when asking a question in a letter to a regulatory agency to include all the facts. The regulatory agency will respond based exactly on the situation as described in the letter, and the answer will not be binding on the regulatory agency if the actual facts are at all different or if something material has been left out of the request.

So the OP should include in any letter all the information in posts 6 and 8, as well as (1) describing in more detail the terms of the trust owning the house; and (2) describing any financial arrangements he has, or any of the other family members have, for paying rent to the trust or reimbursing the trust of expenses associated with the property or their use of it.
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Old November 2, 2012, 08:10 PM   #14
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^^^

Agreed ... absolutely.

Garbage in ==> Garbage out. The BATFE cannot offer a meaningful response without full disclosure of ALL the relevant facts.
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Old November 3, 2012, 02:36 PM   #15
AH.74
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Quote:
But .. he does NOT (apparently) own the Florida residence, and that puts the entire situation into murky territory.
As a beneficiary of a trust, he may indeed be considered as a partial owner of the property held by the trust. That is why I suggested going in with a copy of the actual trust document so the agents there can see for themselves and possibly make a determination. Sending a letter is fine, but without seeing the documents there is not as much potential for a positive outcome. And I wouldn't go so far as to send them a copy.
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Old November 3, 2012, 08:07 PM   #16
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AH.74
...That is why I suggested going in with a copy of the actual trust document so the agents there can see for themselves and possibly make a determination. Sending a letter is fine, but without seeing the documents there is not as much potential for a positive outcome....
Understand that my suggestions regarding a letter are based on my years of experience in the practice of law. During my career I had many occasions to seek a formal opinion from a regulatory agency. There are accepted ways of doing that, and there are inappropriate and unhelpful ways to do things.

Meeting with an agent is not the way to go about this. The OP wants a legal opinion, and that would have to come in writing from the agency lawyers, not an agent. Also, an agent is going to have no interest in reading a trust document, nor is he likely to fully understand it. Agents are good at their jobs and know what they need to know to do their jobs; but doing their jobs doesn't involve being familiar with the legal nuances of these sorts of trust arrangements.

A verbal opinion of a agent will also not be binding in the way a formal, legal ruling will be.
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Old November 4, 2012, 07:22 AM   #17
AH.74
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I did say something in writing would be best in my first post.

I also suggested he start by calling. If he lays it out they should be able to make recommendations or tell him what he needs to submit to them, and to whom.

Going in and meeting with agents face to face is not "inappropriate" or "unhelpful"; on the contrary. These people do still work for us after all and your post IMO contributes to the OP's impression that these people are unapproachable: "Never heard of a Federal Gov Agency being that accommodating on a personal basis!" is what he said. I believe dealing with something on a personal contact basis can sometimes help expedite things.

Also, you use the terms "formal opinion", "legal opinion" and "legal ruling." What exactly is a letter from an agency attorney going to be in this case?
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Old November 4, 2012, 11:01 AM   #18
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AH.74
...Going in and meeting with agents face to face is not "inappropriate" or "unhelpful"; on the contrary. These people do still work for us after all and your post IMO contributes to the OP's impression that these people are unapproachable...
It depends on who one is meeting with and for what purpose. And it's not a question of whether agency staff is unapproachable. It's a question of whether an approach will serve one's particular purpose.

If the OP wants some official and binding from ATF that when he's in Florida he's a Florida resident under ATF regulations, meeting with an agent won't do him any good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AH.74
...Also, you use the terms "formal opinion", "legal opinion" and "legal ruling." What exactly is a letter from an agency attorney going to be in this case?
I used the terms rather loosely, and different agencies may use different terminology (such a letter from the IRS is called a Private Letter Ruling).

Basically, what the OP seems to want is an official and clear statement from ATF that under his particular circumstances, which he will describe accurately and in detail in his letter request, when he is present in Florida he would be a resident of Florida under ATF regulations and for the purposes of the federal interstate transfer of firearms statutes.
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Old November 4, 2012, 01:31 PM   #19
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AH.74
As a beneficiary of a trust, he may indeed be considered as a partial owner of the property held by the trust.
He may ... or he may not.

As a beneficiary of a family trust that has been in existence for more than 50 years, I live in a house that is on land owned by the trust. I am a beneficiary of the trust -- I am NOT an owner of the land. I am not even a partial owner. The trust is the owner, and it is a legal entity unto itself.

In my case, however, it is my only residence, my motor vehicles are registered at this address and I pay taxes on them, I pay all utilities, and I am registered as a voter at this address. There has never been any reason for my residence to be in question.
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