On Gun Trusts (Letter to the Editor)

I am writing in response to the article (Mark Friedman’s March 11 Law column) about gun trusts in your newspaper. I am an estate planning attorney specializing in trusts. But I am also a mother and a citizen concerned about the safety of our community and our country.

Before anyone puts a label on me that I am a gun control liberal, nothing could be further from the truth. I was raised on a farm in eastern Arkansas. We had more guns in our house than I could count. We were taught to respect guns as well as people. I cannot remember the first time I shot a gun although my parents still have the BB gun that I am sure was the first gun I used. My son shot his first duck this last season.

I believe in the right to own guns for sport or for personal protection. But never in my upbringing, or in my adult life for that matter, did the need or desire arise for an assault rifle. Maumelle attorney Chris Rippy believes a gun trust will allow the protection of an AR-15 for civilians in the wake of anticipated gun control laws. An AR-15 is the civilian form of the M16 military rifle. AR-15s are modified to shoot just a bit slower to make them “safer” for the civilian population, although I am told that is something that can be easily changed to make it exactly like an M16. M16s were designed by the military for one purpose only: to kill a lot of people quickly.

The law firm where I work discussed the issues of gun trusts some time ago. We unanimously chose not to utilize these documents. Assisting others in skirting the existing gun laws was not something we wished to be a part of. What happens when the very person you assisted in procuring this weapon goes to Maumelle Middle School and guns down our kids? Is the attorney who drafted the document responsible? I think morally, if not legally, the answer has to be yes. The recent California shooter, Chris Dorner, used this very type of trust to purchase silencers and a short-barreled rifle used in his crimes without undergoing a background check.

From a legal standpoint, if an assault rifle ban goes through, it will be irrelevant whether you own this weapon personally or in a trust. The simple possession of the weapon will be illegal. So there is also an issue as to how well these gun trusts will accomplish what has been promised in the future.

While I am not a constitutional scholar, in my opinion the Second Amendment is not an unlimited right. The Founding Fathers were shooting muskets. There is no way they intended the Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to own semi-automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines.

I do not personally know Mr. Rippy and I do not wish him ill. But my conclusion after reading this article is that he either does not have children of his own or he has not thought through the consequences of his actions. The fact that there is an attorney practicing in Maumelle who is overloaded with work assisting others in stockpiling and protecting these weapons makes me think that Maumelle is not the place that I believed it to be.

Lori L. Holzwarth

Maumelle