You received that dreaded phone call, your grandpa has passed away. You remember the time you hunted together, shot skeet and targets for practice. There’s no substitute for him being there. But at the reading of his will, you learn that you’ve inherited his entire gun collection.
Preserving his legacy is important, and you want to do it correctly. So, what do you need to know about inheriting firearms? Firearms can be left in a will just like any other kind of property. There’s a catch, though.
Unlike a coin collection, or antique jewelry, the possession of firearms is regulated by law. Let’s say that your grandfather has willed his gun collection to you. For you to inherit that collection, you must be qualified to possess the firearms.
So, for example, if you’re a convicted felon, you cannot take possession of those firearms grandpa wanted you to have. Keep in mind, the rules for firearms vary from state to state. You must comply with both state and federal law, and there are no exceptions to these laws when it comes to inherited firearms.
Once you come into the possession of these guns, do you have to register them? Despite what you may have read on a gun forum online, there is no gun registry in Texas, so if you inherit a gun from grandpa, you do not have to register it. In fact, even if you wanted to, there is no statewide organization to register it with.
As a general rule, if you want to transfer a firearm to a resident of a different state, you must involve a federal firearms licensed dealer. But what if grandpa lived in a different state? A firearm inheritance from a will is one of the exceptions to the interstate transfer laws. Once there is a signed order naming the executor of the will, it is legal for you to bring grandpa’s guns back to Texas without going through an FFL dealer.
Finally, what if the firearm left to you is an antique? Antique firearms do fall into their own category. Under Texas law, a gun is not a considered a firearm if it is an antique or Curio firearm manufactured before 1899, or a replica of an antique or Curio firearm manufactured before 1899, but only if the replica does not use rim fire or center fire ammunition.
While the federal law uses slightly different language, it’s functionally identical to the Texas definition. So, if you inherit a black powder revolver that is a replica of a gun manufactured before 1899, or a firearm that is actually manufactured before 1899, it is not considered a firearm under Texas or federal law, and none of the aforementioned restrictions on inheritance apply.
If you have any questions about inheriting firearms, call Texas LawShield, and ask to speak with an Independent Program Attorney.