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Old May 27, 2021, 11:55 AM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: June 18, 2017
Location: Virginia, USA
Posts: 273
Interstate Transfer Question

Asking for a friend. Really.

I know a woman whose husband died in 2020, and she subsequently gave away his rifles to her late husband's brother-in-law. Thing is, she lives in Virginia, and he was in town from Indiana for the funeral. This is a matter of federal jurisdiction, obviously, so here are my questions ...

1. Was this transfer legal? Is there a familial exemption for interstate transfers? And even then, is a former brother-in-law even legally "family"?

2. If this transfer was not legal, how should they have done it? I mean, the guy was standing right in front of her. Should she still have shipped the rifles to an FFL in Indiana?

Thanks. I told her I would inquire.
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Old May 27, 2021, 03:00 PM   #2
Aguila Blanca
Join Date: September 25, 2008
Location: CONUS
Posts: 16,613
Based on what you wrote, I believe the transfers were illegal.

Federal law provides that firearms inherited either by bequest (stipulated in a will) or by intestate succession (the person had no will and you inherit under the laws of the jurisdiction) can be made directly -- even interstate -- without going through an FFL. It's not a "familial" exception -- it's based on who inherits.

In this case, I assume the wife/widow was the person who actually inherited the firearms. That means when she gave them to the brother-in-law, they were interstate transfers. Interstate transfers of handguns have to go through an FFL in the recipient's state of residence. Interstate transfers of long guns (rifles and shotguns) can go through an FFL in either the transferor's state of residence or the transferee's state of residence.

So the right way for them to have done this would have been to find a local FFL, both of them drive over there with the guns, and pay the local FFL to process the transfers.
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Old May 27, 2021, 04:41 PM   #3
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Join Date: June 18, 2017
Location: Virginia, USA
Posts: 273
Thank you. That was an excellent answer.

I suspected the law varied between handguns and rifles, but I did not know.
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Old May 28, 2021, 06:29 AM   #4
Spats McGee
Join Date: July 28, 2010
Location: Arkansas
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Aguila Blanca hit the nail on the head.
I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. If you need some honest-to-goodness legal advice, go buy some.
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