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Gun Trusts one weapon to fight gun controlRippy finds unique way to protect gun owners

Ever since the tragic Connecticut school shooting last year sparked a renewed interest in national gun control legislation gun retailers have said they’ve experienced a run on the guns they have in stock to sell.

Ammunition is also in short supply as gun owners stock up.

Central Arkansas concealed carry instructors said they’ve also seen a dramatic increase in students.

One Little Rock instructor with his own gun range said he had more students in January of this year than in all of 2012.

Fear that guns may be taken away or at least restricted prompted the Arkansas General Assembly to enact provisions to keep holders of concealed carry permits names secret.

And just last week a controversial proposed bill to allow the open carrying of weapons was introduced at the Legislature.

One Maumelle attorney has found an unusual way of cutting down the gun ownership red tape and protecting gun owners by creating what he calls a gun trust.

Chris Rippy, a partner in the Nash Raley Rogers and Rippy law firm in Maumelle said a gun trust works just like most normal trusts.

Similar to how estate planning protects assets — a gun trust does the same thing for guns, Rippy said. And it even offers eliminating much of the red tape now and especially if more is imposed through new federal or state legislation.

Actually the trust becomes the owner of the guns, not any individual so there’s never a transfer of ownership, just a change in the trust’s trustees or beneficiaries, Rippy said.

Should Congress ban assault weapons, like an AR-15 — the civilian semi-automatic version of Colt’s military fully automatic M-16, the AR-15 could be transferred into a trust and protected, according to Rippy.

The trusts can be used to protect someone’s second amendment rights, he said.

The only downside is the loss of ownership, Rippy said.

Since people found out about the gun trusts, Rippy said he’s been swamped with folks wanting to set one up.

He established the first gun trust about a year ago, Rippy said.

There are two different types of trusts, he said.

One is a revocable trust and the second is an irrevocable trust.

Rippy said, “A trust is an arrangement under which one person, referred to as a ‘trustee,’ holds legal title to property for another person, called a beneficiary. Arkansas allows individuals to be the trustee of their own trust, keeping full control over all property held in the trust. A gun trust is a type of trust that is set up to hold legal title over firearms and assist with their distribution upon the death of the trustee.”

A revocable trust can even be used to purchase Title II weapons; Rippy said which could be used by anyone who is a trustee.

Trusts also are excluded from requirements to send in pictures, fingerprints or even to have the local chief of police or county sheriff sign off on an application, Rippy said. Plus, there’s no expensive yearly fee and upon the death of a trustee all assets can be transferred to your beneficiaries outside of probate court, so all assets remain private.

Irrevocable trusts are more restrictive, Rippy said, and are normally used in estate planning to shield assets from creditors. Once established, the creator cannot change its terms.

Rippy noted that several state and federal laws still have impact upon possession of a gun. For example, convicted felons, mentally ill or those who’ve had a domestic battery charge cannot legally be in possession of firearms and thus couldn’t be a party to any trust.

Some weapons purchases may also be reviewed by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Enforcement agents, he said.

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