I-Team: “Gun Trusts” can avoid background checks

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - There's a way to own a machine gun in Massachusetts without having a firearms license. The 22News I-Team reveals when this little-known loophole will be closed.

They're called gun trusts and there's dozens of them in Massachusetts. "The gun is not going to be owned by an individual, it's going to be owned by a trust," said Attorney Adam Basch, Shareholder at Bacon, Wilson, P.C.

Attorney Basch told 22News the purpose of a "gun trust' is to avoid transferring ownership of a firearm when someone dies, but there's a loophole that allows people to own a firearm without having a firearms license or a background check.

"Which means you could possibly have beneficiaries to have access to a machine gun that wouldn't even be allowed to own a regular firearm in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," said Attorney Basch.

A lot of new gun requirements are met with push-back. 22News spoke with one gun store owner who says this law makes sense.

"in the event that someone in your family has a living trust or a trust and leaves an automatic weapon to you, maybe at the time of the trust you were a good person, but maybe now your not so good," said Roger Beaupre, Owner of Whiskey Hill Sports in West Warren.

The I-Team found two trusts setup in Massachusetts for a grenade launcher, but many gun trusts are for machine guns and silencers. The reason trusts are setup for machine guns, is that it is almost impossible to transfer an automatic weapon without one. You would need your police chief or state police colonel to sign an ATF Form 4.

"What's been notoriously happening, is that you drop off the form and it's not signed. You can't force the chief to sign off on it," said Attorney Basch.

The new law takes effect July 13th. "Gun Trusts" will still be allowed, but everyone under the trust will have to be photographed and fingerprinted.

If you've already created a trust or create one prior to July 13th, you'll be grandfathered into the current law.  After that, everyone named in the trust will have to pass a background check.

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