Kind of strange...


April 26, 2003, 10:27 PM
About six years ago I had a revolver I wanted to sell. I told a women I worked with about it and she later told me her son
was interested in it. A couple days after that I sold it to him.
Now, I know this family pretty well and the son was a hard-
working, mild-mannered, law-abiding, church-going veteran
in his 20's. What no one knew, not his mother and certainly
not me, was that he was on the verge of acquiring a relitively
brief but very intense affection for heroin. His addiction took
the expected route, selling his possessions for drug money
and eventually ending up in ICU from an overdose. Fortunately,
he was able to clean up, go into recovery, get a job, marry
and generally get on with his life. Not long after he sobered
up I asked his Mom if he still had the revolver and was he
interested in selling it back to me (and I was curious if it had
maybe made it's way into the wrong hands). She told me that
he had pawned it to get money for drugs which (perversely
perhaps, considering what he had gone through) was a
relief, for if the pawn shop sold it the buyer would have to
fill out the usual paper work and there would be some sort
of record of the change of ownership.
Well anyway, today I got a letter from the local Narcotics Task
Force informing that they had this revolver this revolver and a
case, that I was the last known owner, and that I have sixty days
to reclaim my property.
This raises several questions that perhaps an LEO or someone
who has had a similiar experience can give an opinion on. The
fact that the case was with the gun makes me think the gun
was confiscated in a drug raid and was not actually taken while
being used in a crime. Nevertheless, does this come back on me
in any legal way? I sold the gun but since I'm the last person
who filled out paperwork does that make me the legal owner
in the law's eyes and can I recover the gun? Should I even
try to recover the gun or should I let the sixty days lapse
and the gun be destroyed? I'd like to have it back but does
reclaiming it compromise me in any way?
Obviously the man I sold it to did not pawn the gun but
traded it for drugs. Unless the pawn shop sold it out the back
door there would be records indicating a later owner than me.
I have to admit all this has given me a bit of a pause. Over
the years I've filled out the paperwork for dozens of guns and
many of them I've sold in private party transactions, usually at
the local gunshow. I've never sold to anyone I was remotely
suspicious of but there's no way to know where that gun's
going to end up with your name still attached to it. Now I
certainly don't believe that I'm endlessly responsible for
a gun just because I was the first to own it But undoubtedly
there are LEO's, lawyers, victims, survivors and assorted
anti's who would be only to happy to make that assumption.
In the future any gun that has paper associating it with me
will be sold only to a licensed dealer or to someone I know
VERY well or not sold at all.
Any thoughts or insights would be much appreciated.

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April 26, 2003, 10:59 PM
I have sold a few guns to strangers who have answered ads before.

Every time I sell a gun, or buy a gun from a private citizen, a Bill of Sale is always filled out and signed by both parties.

For example, if I were to sell you a gun, I would write (or type) as follows on paper:
Bill of Sale

[Seller's Name] sold a [Brand, Caliber and Type of Gun] to [Buyer's Name] on [Date].

The serial number is [XXXXXXX].

Printed Name and Signature of Seller ___________ _________

Printed Name and Signature of Buyer ___________ _________


I have several of these on file in a safe deposit box at my local bank. It's amazing how something simple like this can give you peace of mind.


April 26, 2003, 11:02 PM
Commygun, I don't think you will be in any sort of legal trouble, provided you're in a position to prove you sold the gun to him. His mother would probably be sufficient confirmation of this, as long as she's prepared to tell the LEO's what happened. However, I don't know enough details from your post to be sure. I'd say if there is any doubt in your mind, get your lawyer (who is pro-RKBA, right?) to make contact on your behalf, so that you're covered from the get-go if anything is going to go down the tubes.

April 26, 2003, 11:09 PM
Why wouldn't you want it back? Is there a charge?

April 27, 2003, 09:40 AM
Your bill of sale looks fine, but you might want to include the state and county. My father was an attorney, and this is how he told me to make out a bill of sale:

State of ____________
County of ___________

Sold to (buyer's name) on the _____ day of (month, year), for the sum of (selling price): one (1)
(or however many; write out the number and then put the digit(s) in parenthases) (description of item sold; include all pertinent details).

Seller's signature _________________
Buyer's signature _________________

Mke two copies, and make sure both copies are signed by both parties.

April 27, 2003, 10:50 AM
The "state of", "county of" thing is a good idea.

Also, if I were selling a gun to someone, and they appeared to be quite young, I would ask them to produce I.D.


Apple a Day
April 27, 2003, 10:58 AM
IMHO you sold the gun, therefore it is no longer yours. As much as it would pain me, i'd let it go. :)

April 27, 2003, 11:23 AM
I would consult with someone on this legally, but then again, asking 6 different atty's will get you 6 diferent answers. I have always hated to see guns destroyed, when they have done nothing bad, just the owners. Contact the dept, and get it back. If the person that the agency had taken it from had any "legal" hold on it, they would have returned it to them, IMO.

April 28, 2003, 11:58 PM
Not a legal opinion but a story.

I had a friend that I was stationed with in Las Vegas. He sold a 1911 to his brother in law who took the gun to Little Rock and sold it later to a pawn shop. Two years later the .45 was recovered i9n a drug case here in Las Vegas and the gun was returned to him as the redgistered owner (clark county has a requirement to redgister handguns) he still owns the gun but it was not well treated while in the hands of the drugies.

April 29, 2003, 12:09 AM
I'd contact them and claim the gun.

Sylvilagus Aquaticus
April 29, 2003, 12:16 AM
I'd say it's karma. The gun found you again. It wants to be near you. I can't see any repercussions of you regaining possession of it.

It's also a good lesson in reasons not to sell any of your personal firearms, or if you do, the due diligence in choosing who you sell to. I've sold a couple of firearms I've had, but for the most part, I buy what I intend to keep forever and then pass down.

My brother recovered a couple of firearms that were stolen from him in a burglary some 7 years after they were taken. They were much the worse for wear, one being a commemorative Win94 which had virtually none of the gold plating left on it from neglect and obvious mishandling. It was recovered from a drug dealers house during a bust. I doubt that he's let it see the light of day since then.

I'd say come to terms with your conscience, then go get your revolver before it gets turned into a paperweight.


April 29, 2003, 12:38 AM
The law says you don't have to keep records of gun sales.

Why go out of your way to make a paper trail to someone who doesn't legally need a paper trail leading to him? We spend a lot of time making sure the government doesn't know more than it needs to--making sure that the government stays out of private gun sales--why record and store information that can only be of use to the government in tracing private gun sales.

If someone asks about a gun you sold, just tell them that you sold it. If they ask to whom tell them that you don't keep records. There's no need to present papers proving you sold it. There's no need to prove who you sold it to. The law SAYS there is no need.

Why intentionally give up the right to make private firearm transactions without any government interference? By keeping the records, you're admitting that the government has a right to know what you did with all your guns when, in fact, the law says that they don't. Worse than that, if you DO keep the information, you MUST turn it over in a criminal investigation, or you are obstructing justice. Why put yourself in that situation?

How about this scenario.

You sell a gun to the neighborhood closet junkie and get a dated receipt. Later, the gun is used in a crime and traced to you. Joe Blow, the local dealer testifies that on the date of the gun sale, "Everybody knew that guy was a junkie." Now, there's a good case against you for selling a gun to a known felon which is against the law. Now your own records, which you didn't need to keep in the first place, have got you into trouble.

Here's another.

You sell a gun to your best friend. He hits hard times and sells it to someone who later uses it in crime. Your records send the authorities to your best friend, but he didn't keep a receipt because he's not required to. Yes, I know, if you hadn't kept a receipt, the trace would have ended with you which isn't much better. However, if no one keeps a reciept then they become a non-issue.

Here's another.

You buy a gun from a non-dealer. He marks down that you bought a gun from him. Now, another gun he sold gets used in crime and when the police come to ask him about it, the only "receipt" he can find is the one with your name on it--with a description of "9mm pistol" as the weapon sold. Wrong 9mm pistol, but he's not a dealer, there's no law that says he has to record a serial number, or a make, or even the sketchy info he decided to write down. So the police come knocking on your door about a gun you never even owned.

Bottom line--Don't pretend you're a dealer by keeping records you're not required to. You'll end up causing yourself and others problems. AND you're reinforcing the government's (and others) idea that the government needs to be involved in private gun sales because people are "keeping those records already."

April 29, 2003, 07:17 AM
Commygun - They already know that it used to be your gun. They also know where to find you, as evidenced by the fact that they contacted you. I can't imagine any problems with reclaiming the gun...but I'm not a lawyer, so don't blame me if I'm wrong :D

Looks like you're gonna come out on top in this one - if you retrieve the gun, you basically got free money.

April 29, 2003, 08:59 AM
Also not a lawyer, but...
I may be wrong, but I'm thinking, if there were any charges involved, they would not be offering you a free gun. ;)

Don't get too paranoid.
We don't live in a police state. (Yet!)

I have sold several guns, without thinking about the consequences. Like you, if the person appeared to be law-abiding, I didn't worry about it.

However, recent court cases have proven you can be sued.
There was one recently where the pawn shop that sold a gun, that was stolen from the legal owner, was used in a school shooting, (I think).

Anyway, the pawn shop settled out of court.
I believe the rest of the case was eventually thrown out, but the pawn shop had already paid out big cash, and the gun manufacturer had ponied up big cash to the lawyers.
(I'm not sure, but I believe the owner from whom the gun was stolen was named in the case also.)

Point is, I could sue you if I don't like the shirt you are wearing.
I may not win, but you will probably need to pay a lawyer, to defend yourself. I prefer to trade my guns to a licensed dealer, in most cases, just to be safe.
Though, as the above case shows, that is no guarantee that you won't be sued somewhere down the road.

I guess we should all find a RKBA lawyer, and keep them on retainer. :rolleyes:

April 29, 2003, 09:02 AM
Go get your gun! So what if you sold it. They're offering it back to you for free. I don't see a moral quandry b/c you sold it. I'm sure they've got guns that were unnecessarily confiscated from citizens. Heres a chance to get a gun back into the hands of the people who would care enough not to pawn it or sell it off for drugs.

Then, DON'T SELL IT AGAIN!!!!!!!

April 29, 2003, 04:26 PM
Is this law of not "requiring" a paper trail just a state to state law? Or is this the law of the land (US)? If so, doesn't that seem like a huge loop hole for a would-be felon on obtaining a gun from a friend that isn't a felon through private sale?

Standing Wolf
April 29, 2003, 06:01 PM
If I'd sold it, I wouldn't consider it still mine, and would inform the LEOs of the sale.

April 29, 2003, 06:18 PM
Go get it. If you were in trouble they already know where you live, and would have already interviewed you. If they want to know how the gun left your hands tell them the story. The guy you sold it to may have committed murder with it, and this may lead them to him. I believe there is a saying "The Lord works in mysterious ways". Don't refrain from telling them who you sold it too, simply because the guy has since cleaned his act up.

April 29, 2003, 08:16 PM
Well, I called and told them that I had sold the gun. This threw
them and the women who handles forfeitures said she would
have to consult with the prosecuter to see if the gun should
be given back to me because strictly speaking it was no longer
my property. Rather than provoke a big discussion about Should-
The-Schmoe-Who-Sold-It-To-A-Junkie I told her to forget it and
to go ahead and destroy it. One less Charter Arms Bulldog Pug
in the world, though the county I live in has a very pro-RKBA
sheriff and it wouldn't surprise me if they sold it to a gunshop
or it ended up in some deputy's ankle holster. The whole business
has me left me more cautious about who I sell to in the future
and with a hankering for another .44 special snubbie.

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