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I need help with sten Mk 2 I have an opportunity to buy and need to know if it is real and pre 1986 and legal for me to own it and register it. It belonged to a person that passed away and his 84 year old wife asked me if I wanted to buy it. And I want to know if I can buy it and register it legally. If its been his since 1980 can I buy it and register it legally from his wife or what I can do to own it legally.

sn# 42881 is the serial number can anyone date it and help me on the legality issue thanks For the help



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Assuming the deceased was not an FFL, the Sten MUST be properly registered on an ATF registration form in the name of the deceased and the registration paperwork needs to be found to confirm that it is properly registered to him. The executor can handle the sale to you once the registration is located. The form can be one of the following: Form 1, Form 4 or Form 5, each of which are valid for registration to an individual.

If no form can be located, then serious complications arise due to the confidentiality law allowing only the registrant of record access to information about a specific registered MG. Sometimes executors who are lawyers are able to work with ATF to see if the serial number of the MG is in the registry, known as the NFRTR, and that it is in the name of the deceased. It will take time and serious effort to find out from ATF if the Sten is properly registered. Unfortunate, but that is the case with MGs for which no registration can be located. FWIW

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I would add that the penalty for an unregistered machinegun (contraband) is imprisonment up to 10 years and a fine up to $250K. So you definitely want to determine if it's registered with BATF (assuming it's a machinegun and not a semi-auto that someone built from legal parts). There are other members who have assisted in similar finds, so they may see this post and chime in. In the meantime, the wife of the deceased should see if she can locate the BATF form, if there is one, that Bob mentions above.

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ATF personnel roster has been cleaned out of knowledgeable individuals. For many years there have been very helpful and knowledgeable supervisors available to help out. They are gone. My interactions with ATF over the last couple years have been uniformly bad as far as being able to have a reasonable conversation with a supervisor about knotty registration or transfer problems. The new people don't know much and because they don't know much they can't help. The general trend is to pass the buck or quote the book. There is no longer a variety of people who have been working in NFA who have a basic understanding of the insane disfunction of the agency. and NFA in particular. I'm not talking about being polite but about "knowing" the history and ins and outs of the NFGA world. Plus, now any issues must be addressed to ATF/NFA by a letter.

So, if you have an MG for which there is no paperwork available, at least you have the serial number and the name of the alleged registrant. The executor can write a letter to ATF requesting a copy of the form 4 for the serial number and type of MG registered to the deceased whom he represents saying that it has been misplaced and he needs a copy to effect a transfer for the estate. If ATF has a record of the serial number and the registrant they will let you know. If not they will say they have no record of it.

The executor should be advised that he needs to secure the MG safely with him being the only person with access to it. He is acting as the legal representative of the deceased so he can act as a legal proxy for the MG. If ATF does not have record of the MG. that is the end of it and the executor will need to destroy the receiver of the gun. there is a protocol for destroying the receiver which he can research.Only the receiver needs to be destroyed.

There are other ways to try and finagle the information from ATF but these methods require some subterfuge so I will not advise their use.

While there are legal penalties for possession of an unregistered MG, ATF is totally aware of the many, many MGs in possession of individuals without paperwork and in the extremely unlikely event that ATF finds an unregistered MG, such as in an estate, they will just require that it be turned over to ATF for destruction, etc. ATF has not been known to seek prosecution of such MGs which are possessed through benign misunderstanding or ignorance of the laws. Their main concern is that unregistered MGs be under the control of someone with the legal authority to do it or be destroyed and that they do not fall into the hands of crooks, etc.


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These are 2 videos with Ian McCollum (Forgotten Weapons) and John Keene (Morphy's Auction House) that are worth watching and explain in as plain terms as possible the machine gun the OP is describing along with other MG classifications. It will take 2 hours to watch both videos but if you are new to MGs or are considering taking the plunge into the machine gun world, I would consider these must watches.


As a side note - Sten MGs are common - and unless it's a rare or exotic version or you can buy the gun at a great price or you're just being a nice guy and want to help the lady out, IMO it's NOT worth the hassle.

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