It is illegal for someone to possess a fully automatic rifle without a Class 3 federal firearms license. In addition, someone who has a Class 3 license needs to follow specific rules and regulations regarding the transportation of these weapons even from someone’s home to a firing range. The rules can be onerous.
In recent years, there has been some talk about the creation of NFA Trusts as a workaround to the National Firearms Act. These trusts, some argue, would allow people who are members of the trust to use or possess machine guns, Short Barreled Rifles (SBR), Short Barreled Shotguns (SBS), Any Other Weapons (AOW) or a Destructive Device (DD), or Any Other Weapons, including short barrel (sawed-off) shotguns. Here’s what the Department of Justice has said previously about NFA Trusts as a work-around to the National Firearms Act.
The ATF has not issued any letters authorizing these Trusts. These Trust are almost certainly illegal, and not a good faith compliance with the National Firearms Act.
While various lawyers have been claiming success in establishing these trusts (google NFA Trust), ultimately it’s the client – the possessor or member of the trust – who will feel the full weight of the Federal Government when it decides to start prosecuting people for illegally possessing automatic or other Class 3 weapons.
At the very least, the person’s entire gun collection will be seized, including the legal weapons. The person will face multiple felony charges. And, if lucky, the person’s only expense will be a huge legal fee for a Raleigh federal lawyer to defend him. In addition, the defense – I though it was illegal – does not work, even if you genuinely did believe it legal. Mistake of law is not a defense.