Written by attorney Lisa Kurtz Keylon

What do you do with WWII Souvenir’s?

People hold on to mementos that get forgotten or overlooked. While in most situations it is not a big deal – when it comes to firearms, it could be a FELONY. War booty passed down through the generations may be a problem.

Take for example the situation where a machine gun appears in an estate (or any other contraband or illegal firearm). It was always there… carefully stored and even ignored for many decades. A family member comes into possession of it and finally wonders .. . is this a problem? Am I in trouble? WHAT do I DO?

First, breathe deeply. Then, if you are the family member, you should talk to a gun law attorney or an attorney who knows firearms issues BEFORE you do ANYTHING. An unregistered NFA firearm such as a machine gun never listed in the federal register may be a “felony in motion." If not previously registered, you cannot now simply register it. You options will vary depending on the facts involved. Another issue may be that you do not know the status of the firearm; you don't know whether it is registered or not. Not knowing can be a problem too. Even driving with an unregistered or improperly registered firearm can lead to their confiscation or worse problems.

Here are some thoughts for you to consider:

  1. The firearm MAY be contraband. If so and you “know" this… you could face prosecution if you do not handle things correctly.

  2. Keep EVERY firearm under lock and key if you are responsible, until you have a game plan.

  3. For NFA firearms, the registration of the firearm must be safely determined.

  4. Even if not registered, there are some things that can be done:

a. By following certain exact procedures, some firearms of historic value could be gifted to a qualifying museum… i.e. a federal museum.

b. By following certain exact procedures, a law enforcement agency may accept the firearm for its use.

  1. Otherwise, a contraband NFA firearm must be processed with great care. In most cases a procedure is worked out with ATF or other law enforcement to surrender possession, usually by having an Agent or officer come to the firearm and take it into custody. Remember, transporting an illegal firearm, contraband, raises risk.

Most gun-oriented families want to retain ownership of a loved one’s firearms. That is a good thing. But as you can see, care needs to be taken to make sure that a felony is not part of the inheritance. Enjoy the souvenirs – just don’t do it from behind bars!


Lisa Kurtz Keylon is licensed to practice law in the State of Arizona. The law firm of Lisa Kurtz Keylon, PLC provides legal services for clients in the State of Arizona. The information provided on this website, our newsletters and blog is general and educational and neither should be construed as legal or tax advice, nor does the use of the website create an attorney/client relationship. Laws of specific states or laws relevant to a particular situation may affect the applicability, accuracy or completeness of this information which cannot take the place of one-on-one personal, legal consultation and advice. Federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. No legal representation is created, and we make no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by its use. Neither the authors nor anyone forwarding or reproducing this work shall have any liability or responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused, or alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly, by the information contained in this website or blog.

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