What’s the Law: Post Mortem Firearms Disposition

POST MORTEM (AFTER DEATH) FIREARMS DISPOSITION
BY DARRYL CHOY

1 Q. I own a great number of firearms. What happens to them after I die?

A. He who dies with the most toys wins! Not true! You still just die. About a month after you go to the great happy gun show in the sky, HPD will send your family a nice letter offering condolences. This letter will also list all of your registered firearms and request that they be disposed of in accordance with Chapter 134 HRS.

2 Q. “Disposal of’, what the hell does that mean?

A. Calm down, you’re not dead yet! Section 134-7.3(e) states that “disposed of’ means transferred to another qualified person, an FFL dealer or turned into HPD.

3 Q. The last option is out of the question. So what does my family have to do?

A. We are not talking about prying guns from your cold dead fingers! All of your firearms can be transferred to another qualified person. Long guns can go to any person with a valid long gun permit. Handguns can be transferred to any person who is qualified to obtain a handgun permit (Le. handgun certified under section 134-2(g)) or your entire collection can be turned over to a FFL dealer.

4. Q. What is the first step?

Your personal representative or a designated family member should respond to
HPD’s letter informing them that the disposition will begin. Obtain multiple certified
copies of your death certificate. Order 10+ from the Department of Health. Your family will need the certificates for many things besides firearms disposition. Inventory all firearms and locate all registration documents.

5. Q. How exactly is a long gun transferred?

The long gun maybe given or sold to anyone with a valid permit to acquire. The
new owner must take the long gun to HPD and the following information: name
and last address of deceased owner (you), manufacturer, model, type of action,
caliber/gauge, serial number (HPD may want to see a copy of the death
certificate). If your new owner does not have a current/valid permit to acquire, then
an application, possibly $25 FBI fee and 14 day wait period are required. Your
representative must inform HPD of the transfer within 48 hours. Additionally
photocopies of the permit to acquire and driver’s license and a record of what
firearm was transfered should be kept.

6. Q. How are handguns transferred?

Handguns are a bit more complicated. A hunter education or firearms safety and
training course must first be completed. Once certified the potential buyer will
apply for a handgun permit. The $25 FBI fee may apply. HPD must be provided
with the name and address of the prior owner (you again), manufacturer, model,
type of action, caliber and serial number. After 14 days the permit is picked up.
Your personal representative, husband or wife, etc., normally can sign off. The
handgun is then taken to HPD for registration.

7. Q. A good number of my long guns were acquired before the 1994 registration
requirement. Is all this permit and registration stuff necessary?

Registered or not any transfer after June 1994 must follow the permit and registration law. This also applied to handguns that were never registered.

8. Q. Does all this registration and permit requirement apply to black powder and pre-1899 firearms?

Section 134-2(a) requires a long gun permit for black powder and pre-1899 firearms. Therefore. the new owner must have a valid long gun permit. However, registration under Section 134-3(d)(1) is not required by the new owner. Your family should keep a photocopies of the new owners permit to acquire and driver’s license and a record of what black powder gun was transferred.

9.Q. My firearm collection includes a so-called “assault pistol”. What’s the deal?

Your registered “assault pistol” cannot be transferred to a new owner in Hawaii. While you were “grandfathered” in by law, at your death it has to be destroyed or transferred to someone living in another more friendly state. Have a FFL dealer handle this for your family.

10. Q. All my pre-ban “assault rifles” have flash suppressers and bayonet lugs etc. Are these transferable at my death?

Yes, the “assault rifle” ban is a federal law with a grandfather clause. The clause also applies to more than ten round magazine that do not fit a handgun, e.g. AK, M-14, Mini-14, HK 20-30 round magazines are normally transferable.

11. Q. What about really questionable stuff?

All illegal stuff cannot be transferred and cannot be possessed. It must be turned into HPD. This includes shotguns with less than 18″ barrels, rifles with less than 16″ barrels, full-autos, silencers, more than 10 round magazines that could fit a handgun, AP bullets and ammo.

12. Q. Can’t my stuff just be turned over to a FFL in a bulk sale or consignment?

Yes, provided a FFL is willing to take possession of all your stuff. Section 134-2(a) allows a FFL dealer to take possession merely with a death certificate. (HPD, however, has in the past required that a permit to acquire be issued before handguns are taken into possession by a FFL.)

13. Q. I want my wife to get my 45 auto, my son to get the 30-06 M-1 Garand and my daughter to get my Winchester model 21. How can this be accomplished?

Your wife must have the necessary handgun certificate, apply for a permit to acquire, wait fourteen days, then take the handgun down for registration. Both your son and your daughter must be 21 years or older(Section 134-2(a)) and must obtain permits to acquire. At transfer, they must take the long guns down to HPD for registration. Your wife, son and daughter maybe subject to the $25 FBI check fee.

14. Q. What if my family can’t find a firearm that I had registered?

Your family should inform HPD that the firearm cannot be located despite a good faith search. HPD may require that lost property or theft report be filed.

15. Q. What about ammo and reloading components?

Unprimed and once fired cases (shotgun hulls also) along with bullets, shot and wads are totally regulation free (so far). While not stated in the law, primers, powder and loaded ammo are best transferred to someone who is 21 years or older and not under a restraining order and has not committed a violent crime.

16. Q. What should I do now since I’m still alive?

Sell and transfer your stuff now. You can choose and pick who gets what, how much and even how it is transferred. If not, at least put together an accurate master list of everything. Indicate if registered or not, who gets what and value. Keep it together with all HPD registration papers. Remember also to see an estate planning lawyer for a will, especially if your estate is over $1,000,000 beginning in 2002.

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