Do my inherited firearms have to be registered? Can I get my firearms from another state? What if I’m ineligible to possess firearms; Can I still inherit them? When we talk about inheriting firearms, we must look at both federal law and Georgia law.
As a rule in Georgia, there is no specific restriction from being able to inherit a firearm. If you’re not a juvenile, you have never been convicted of a felony, you’re not on first offender probation, and you’ve never been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, you should be able to inherit a firearm in Georgia. However, federal law comes into play when that inheritance crosses state lines.
We are going to discuss two subsections of 18 USC § 922: section (a)(3)(A) and section (a)(5)(A). Section (a)(3)(A) makes it unlawful for a Georgia resident to bring any firearm purchased or otherwise obtained outside of the state into Georgia. This law does not prevent transporting an inherited firearm into Georgia, as long as you are not prohibited by law from possessing that firearm in your state.
Section (a)(5)(A) applies to the executor of the estate transferring a firearm to a Georgia resident. If you’re a Georgia resident, the federal law says it’s okay for you to go to Alabama, Kentucky, or Louisiana, or any other state to accept a firearm through a bequest or through inheritance, and it’s okay for the person transferring it to you to do so, so long as you are allowed by law to possess that firearm. Once it’s determined that you’re legal to possess that firearm, you can transport it yourself in your vehicle, you can mail it to yourself or care of another person in your home state as long as it remains packaged until you open it personally. You can ship the firearm to a Georgia Federal Firearms Licensee, or FFL, and then complete the Form 4473 and a background check to collect the gun.
It’s important to remember that there are no registration rules in Georgia for firearms, but there may be registration rules and different transportation rules in the state where you receive the firearm. Make sure you speak to the executor, or, even more importantly, perhaps an attorney in that other state, to help you determine whether you are okay by state law to possess that firearm. Speak to the estate’s attorney and he or she should be able to assist you in that regard.
What if, however, you’re accepting your grandfather’s rifle after he left his entire estate to his wife, your grandmother? In that scenario, it’s not actually an inheritance; it is a gift. That gift must comply with federal law, and your grandmother must ship it to a Georgia FFL, and then you must go to the FFL, fill out Form 4473, and do the background check to receive the firearm.
An antique firearm is not defined as a “firearm” under either the National Firearms Act (“NFA”) or the Gun Control Act (“GCA”). A muzzle-loading rifle made in or before 1898 or a replica for which ammunition is no longer manufactured in the United States and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade are both considered antique firearms. The restrictions on possession and sale and carry across state lines that are found in the NFA and the GCA do not apply to antiques. Under federal law, a convicted felon is not prohibited from possessing an antique firearm. However, even if federal law allows a person to possess an antique firearm, someone who otherwise cannot posses a firearm in Georgia who has an antique could still be prosecuted by state authorities.