What's A "Responsible Person?"

When you decide to file your applications under a gun trust, you will be prompted to choose a “responsible person.” Although it isn’t imperative to assign someone, and a responsible person is a relative term, it’s one of the main reasons most folks choose the gun trust route instead of filing as an individual.

The ATF defines a responsible person as “an individual who has the power to direct the management and policies of the applicant,” [18 U.S. Code § 841] but what exactly does that mean? We want to dive a little deeper into this term because in doing so, we hope it helps clear up some ambiguity prior to the submission process.

In the simplest terms, a responsible person is someone who is listed on your trust and has the authority to be in possession of the NFA item(s) that are registered to that trust.  For most, this is a spouse, sibling, hunting buddy, etc..

Depending on the attorney or template used to create a trust, a responsible person can be classified by various terms – but most responsible person(s) will be required to submit fingerprints, photographs, and personal information before the applicant can submit their form. These specific terms help outline suppressor ownership as well as sharing and using capabilities.

We hope this article helps clarify some questions you may be having.


Sometimes referred to as a Settlor

The grantor is the individual applying for the trust as well as contributing to the trust who also delegates and assigns roles pertaining to the trust’s assets. Grantors are allowed to modify the gun trust in any way and may purchase, sell, transfer, deliver, or posses assets on behalf of the trust, including terminating the trust. A grantor is also considered a trustee.


Sometimes referred to as Co-Trustee or Joint-Trustee

Trustee(s) are given many of the same rights as the person applying for the silencer themselves. When adding an individual as a trustee on your trust, this means that they can obtain the trust property legally without the grantor having to be present. These individuals also have the same ownership authority as the grantor. By that, we mean, the trustee is able to purchase, sell, transfer, deliver and possess on behalf of the trust.


If filing under a trust, a beneficiary has to be named (either through the gun trust or through the grantor’s will), in which someone named as a beneficiary will receive the assets upon death of the grantor. The beneficiary generally does not have any of the powers that a trustee or grantor does. If there is more than one beneficiary designated, the grantor can even delegate what percentage each beneficiary gets in the gun trust.

Successor Trustee

Upon the grantor’s passing, a successor trustee takes ownership of the silencer (of course, after legally submitting all of the necessary paperwork), however, the successor trustee has no responsibilities or ownership until then. The successor trustee can also be a beneficiary of a gun trust, therefore, they will have no rights to the trust property until the grantor’s passing. What this means is that the successor trustee does not have to fill out the questionnaire or submit fingerprints and a photograph during the grantor’s application process.

Although we’ve attempted to separate these terms out, in the end, it all depends on how the gun trust has been prepared and how roles have been delegated. If there is any question about that, it’s generally best to reach out to the attorney who drafted the gun trust and ask them to clearly define the roles. Alternatively, if you’re reaching out to an attorney to draft a trust, have an idea for how you’d like the roles to be separated out. 

One tip that we always recommend is to know your responsible parties’ information (i.e. name, email, number) prior to visiting one of our kiosks so that you’re able to submit their information correctly. This won’t only save you time, but it will, in the end, help move along the process of finally getting your stamp.

There’s technically no max to how many parties you can assign to your trust, but we’re racking our brain trying to think of how much responsibility we want to give to our parties. Either way, you can add all responsible parties at our kiosk and they will be emailed their own QR codes where they will be able to submit their information at any of our kiosks on their own time.

Also, remember that everyone named as a responsible party on the gun trust needs to submit their information before any document can be submitted to the ATF.

We may have just turned your world upside down with all of that information. As always, we’re here to answer any questions you may have. Comment below! We’d love to hear from you.