If you’re a firearm enthusiast in Ohio and wish to acquire National Firearms Act (NFA) items such as suppressors, short-barreled rifles or fully automatic firearms, you need to navigate a specific set of legal requirements and procedures.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to obtain NFA items in Ohio while adhering to federal and state regulations.

What Are NFA Items?

The National Firearms Act was enacted in 1934 and regulates the manufacture, sale and possession of certain types of firearms, commonly referred to as NFA items; these include:

Short-Barreled Rifles (SBRs): Rifles with barrels shorter than 16 inches or with an overall length of less than 26 inches when the stock is fully extended.

Short-Barreled Shotguns (SBSs): Shotguns with barrels shorter than 18 inches or an overall length of less than 26 inches when the stock is fully extended.

Machine Guns: Fully automatic firearms capable of firing multiple rounds with a single trigger pull. Civilians are only allowed to use and possess machine guns that were manufactured on or before May 19, 1986.

Destructive Devices: These include firearms such as grenades, rockets and large-bore firearms with a bore diameter greater than half an inch.

Firearm Suppressors: These are attachments designed to reduce the noise and muzzle flash produced by firearms, typically screwed onto the barrel of a firearm. Suppressors are commonly used for hearing protection and noise reduction.

Any Other Weapons (AOWs): This category includes unconventional firearms that do not fit the definition of other NFA items. Examples include pen guns and firearms disguised as other objects.

It’s important to note that while Ohio allows the possession of these NFA items, owners must adhere to federal regulations and requirements, including filing the appropriate paperwork (detailed below), paying the necessary taxes and complying with all relevant laws.

Additionally, specific state and local ordinances may apply, so people seeking to possess NFA items in Ohio should stay informed about current regulations and legal requirements. AimHi Family Firearms Center staff are available to answer any questions you may have surrounding a potential acquisition of an NFA item.

Obtaining NFA Items from a Licensed Dealer: The Process

  1. Ensure Eligibility: Before you start the process, ensure you are eligible to possess NFA items. You must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident and not have any disqualifying factors such as felony convictions or restraining orders. A person must be 21 years of age or older only when purchasing NFA items from a licensed dealer.

    If the person eligible for NFA item ownership is at least 18 years old, there are a few ways for the person to legally obtain an NFA item:

    a. The person may acquire the NFA item through an in-state transfer from an individual, gun trust or non-dealer corporate owner.

    b. They may inherit them, typically occurring on a Form 5.

    c. They may manufacture an NFA item (such as an SBR) using a lower receiver that they legally own.
  1. Select an NFA Item: Decide which NFA item you want to acquire.

  2. Purchase from a Federal Firearms License (FFL) Dealer: Locate a licensed dealer in Ohio authorized to sell NFA items. Ensure the dealer is registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

  3. Obtain Passport Photos and Fingerprint Cards: You’ll need to submit passport-sized photos and fingerprint cards as part of your application. Your local law enforcement agencies can provide fingerprinting services. Be sure to use the ATF’s specific fingerprint cards (Form FD-258). Alternatively, digital fingerprints can be used if filing using ATF eForms (recommended). AimHi can help you obtain these, if you desire. This only has to be done one time, because once a digital fingerprint file is obtained, it can be used for every ATF eForms submission.

  4. Complete ATF Form 4: To purchase a suppressor or other NFA item from a registered dealer, you must complete ATF Form 4, which is the Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of Firearm. This form requires detailed information about the NFA item, including its make, model and serial number. AimHi recommends filing this through ATF eForms, and will walk you through the process.

  5. Pay the Transfer Tax: When submitting your Form 4 application, you must include a $200 transfer tax for each NFA item. This tax must be paid by check or money order made out to the “Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.” If filing on ATF eForms, this is done during that process using a credit card.

  6. Complete the CLEO Notification: You must notify your Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO), usually the local sheriff, of your intent to possess an NFA item by sending a copy of your Form 4 to their office. While not required by federal law, some CLEOs may require you to obtain a certification from them that confirms they have no issue with your NFA item possession.

  7. Submit the Application: Mail your completed Form 4, along with the $200 transfer tax payment, to the ATF’s National Firearms Act Division in Atlanta, Georgia. You may also use the ATF’s forms system. Mailing is not required if filing online using ATF eForms.

  8. Wait for Approval: The ATF will review your application, which can take several months. During this time, your application undergoes background checks and ATF reviews.

  9. Pick Up Your NFA Item: Once your application is approved, your licensed dealer in Ohio will receive the NFA item. You’ll need to visit the dealer to complete the transfer. You must bring your tax stamp provided by the ATF to take possession of the item.

  10. Comply with State and Local Laws: While Ohio allows the possession of NFA items, make sure you understand and comply with any state or local regulations that may apply.

Consider Establishing a Gun Trust for Your NFA Items

In Ohio, as in the rest of the United States, a gun trust can help navigate regulations related to NFA items. Here are the primary functions of a gun trust for NFA items:

Facilitates Legal Ownership: A gun trust allows multiple individuals to be legal owners of NFA items. Typically, NFA items must be registered to an individual. With a gun trust, multiple people, such as family members or friends, can be named as trustees and have the legal authority to possess and use the NFA items owned by the trust. The settlor of the gun trust, also referred to as a grantor, trustmaker or trustor, can add or remove co-trustees throughout his or her lifetime.

Streamlines Inheritance: One main advantage of a gun trust is that it simplifies the inheritance process. When the settlor passes away, the trustees named in the trust document can continue to possess and use the NFA items without the need for a new tax stamp or transfer. This can help avoid costly and time-consuming legal procedures.

Ensures Compliance with State and Federal Laws: Gun trusts must be created in compliance with both federal and state laws, and they should include provisions that ensure all users of the NFA items adhere to the necessary legal requirements. Ohio law, like federal law, has specific regulations governing NFA items, and a gun trust can help ensure these rules are followed.

Provides Flexibility: Gun trusts offer flexibility in determining who can use and possess the NFA items. The trust settlor can specify who the trustees are, what items they can access and the conditions under which they can use them. This flexibility can be especially valuable when NFA items are used for recreation, hunting or personal defense.

Privacy: Gun trusts can provide an additional layer of privacy for NFA item owners. Unlike individual registration, which may be subject to public record requests, gun trusts generally offer a higher degree of confidentiality regarding ownership.

Legal Protection: By specifying the rules and responsibilities of trustees, a gun trust can help protect trustees from potential legal issues related to NFA item possession and use. It clarifies the rights and obligations of each party involved.

Assistance with ATF Application: Gun trusts often come with guidance and templates for the necessary ATF application paperwork, making the process of acquiring NFA items more straightforward.

Be sure to consult with a qualified attorney experienced in NFA and gun trust matters when creating a gun trust in Ohio, as laws and regulations can change over time. Additionally, gun trust requirements can vary from state to state, and professional legal advice can ensure your gun trust is compliant with both federal and Ohio state laws.

How AimHi Family Firearms Center Can Help

It’s essential to follow the above steps carefully to ensure a smooth and legal acquisition of NFA items. Remember: always stay updated with the latest regulations and requirements to enjoy your NFA items responsibly and lawfully.

Still unsure about the NFA application process or NFA items? The staff at AimHi Family Firearms Center, an FFL dealer, are here to help guide you. Stop by our shop or contact us today with your questions to learn more!