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Old November 7, 2012, 08:03 PM   #8
Frank Ettin
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
Posts: 8,813
Originally Posted by Librarian
...The inheritance sounds a bit informal, but
  • IF the aunt was the executor
  • AND she distributed the gun according to the decedent's wishes
THEN it sounds like it really was an inheritance....
I don't think I'd be that quick to jump to that conclusion. The thing is that the legal niceties of the passing on of the property of someone who has died can be fairly complex and formal. It's true that if not much property is involved, the formalities aren't always observed, but I'm not sure that a court is likely to "wink" at a failure to observe those formalities when a transfer of a firearm is involved.

If everyone is a resident of California, California law (Penal Code 27870 and 27875) provides for an exception to certain formalities of transfer if by "bequest or intestate succession" when between members of the immediate family (parent/grandparent to/from child/grandchild).

For interstate transfers, federal law (18 USC 922(a)(3) and 922(a)(5)) provides an exception in the case of transfer "by bequest or intestate succession."

A "bequest" is specifically a gift under a will. And under the law a will must (with a few very narrow and rare exceptions) be in writing and satisfy certain formal requirements. "Intestate succession" is a very specific statutory protocol for the distribution of a decedent's property if he dies without a will.

Bequest or intestate succession aren't necessarily simple processes. Depending on applicable law and the amount of property involved, doing thing properly could involve probate, the probate court, audits, lawyers and a lot of legal rigmarole. Or it might not. But if it does, and all the procedures aren't adhered to, does that nullify the exceptions in state and/or federal law to certain requirements for the transfer of firearms? Again, I really don't know.

However, I would not be surprised to see a court apply the formality exceptions very narrowly to only bequest/intestate succession transfers that strictly satisfy state law requirements for the settling of a decedent's estate.
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper

Last edited by Frank Ettin; November 7, 2012 at 09:51 PM. Reason: clarify
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