checking serial #s


August 11, 2006, 11:51 AM
is there a place online that i can check a guns serial number to see if its stolen? i would like to check with out going to the police or a gun shop.

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August 11, 2006, 12:09 PM

August 11, 2006, 12:22 PM
I thought a few states have lists that you can check your guns against.

Florida is one of them I believe.

I don't know if this accesses a national database.

Father Knows Best
August 11, 2006, 02:29 PM
Your local law enforcement agency will have access to the NCIC database, and will generally check for you. Be prepared, however -- if it comes back stolen, they're gonna want it and they're gonna want to know where you got it and what made you think it might be stolen. They will probably refuse to run the serial number without you identifying yourself. So very few people actually ask local LE to check for them.

Also, a response that the serial number is not in the NCIC database doesn't guaranty you that it isn't stolen. Lots of stolen guns never make it into the database.

August 11, 2006, 04:24 PM
This subject brings up a question or two I have been wondering about.
I know that pawn shops have to "run the numbers" when they take in a gun. (At least I believe they do in my state).
How about gun shops? If so, is it just storefronts or all FFL01's? What about FFL03's (C&R)
Finally if you use a gun store to bring in a gun for you from out of state, it has to go on their book. Does it get "run"?
I don't think there is any Federal rules on this, so it may be a state by state thing.


Father Knows Best
August 11, 2006, 05:14 PM
I know that pawn shops have to "run the numbers" when they take in a gun. (At least I believe they do in my state).
How about gun shops? If so, is it just storefronts or all FFL01's? What about FFL03's (C&R)

There was just a thread on this question earlier this week. I stated that in my experience, FFL holders always checked serial numbers with NCIC when taking in a used gun. Several more experienced THR members jumped in to say that wasn't required, and wasn't standard practice.

My experience comes principally from a buddy of mine who runs a pawn shop in Memphis. He always called in the serial number of a gun someone was bringing in to pawn or sell, and my understanding was that he was legally required to do so. Based on your post, I suspect that the legal requirement may have been based on his status as a pawn shop, and not be a rule of general applicability for FFL holders.

August 11, 2006, 06:07 PM

August 11, 2006, 06:09 PM
The link to the Florida website only reports gun stolen in Florida.

There is no national data base that citizens can access anonymously to check on stolen guns.

As others have pointed out, if you call the police to run a check, and it comes up stolen, you will be required to hand over the gun.

FFL's are not required to run a check to see if a gun is stolen before accepting it in trade or sale.

Just because you buy a gun from an FFL does not mean its clean. It may have been stolen and then sold to the FFL.

August 12, 2006, 03:28 AM
I worked in a gun store for 7 years. Anytime we took in a used gun, either bought outright for resale, or on consignment, we filled out a "pawn slip." This was provided to us by the Tucson Police Department Burglary Unit, and would include identifying information for both the firearm(or any other article of value) and the (putative)owner/consigner(whoever brought it in to us). This form had to be filled out and mailed to the Burglary Unit within 1 business day after we took the gun in. We then had to wait 3 weeks before we could sell it - during that time we could display it in a showcase, and take down payments on it, but it could not leave the store for 3 weeks. If the Burglary Unit did not notify us that the gun had been stolen within that time, we could then sell it; if the gun were in fact stolen but we were not notified soon enough prior to its sale, we would then pass on the purchaser's identifying information from the Form 4473. EVERY storefront FFL dealer in town still has to do this - most will annotate the end of the 3-week period on the price tag, so that a prospective buyer can be told when the gun will "clear pawn." I have not shopped for guns out of town apart from gun shows, but I would expect that this is required throughout AZ.

August 12, 2006, 10:27 AM
It's sounding that it may be a State by State requirement. I wonder if you were to use a gun shop (i.e. FFL) to receive a handgun you purchased from out of State, there would be a requirement for the report and a wait?
I would guess that even though the gun needs to be entered in their book, the reporting requirements would not apply as the shop isn't taking it in for "resale".


August 12, 2006, 11:52 PM
If we received a used gun from another FFL, the "pawn check" was not required - it was presumed that the FFL would have done any required checks on their end. For that matter, neither did we perform the "pawn check" when receiving a gun for transfer to another FFL. The "pawn check" was only required if we took in a gun from a private individual for sale or consignment.

Upon consideration, I suppose the rationale for the "pawn check" was as much to shield a dealer from the possibility of being charged with selling stolen goods as it was to locate/recover stolen property; a case could be made that a dealer who was only acting as an intermediary in an out-of-state person-to-person transfer was not selling a stolen gun per se, but was only acting as an intermediary in order to satisfy Federal legal requirements - which, in itself, displays a law-abiding intent rather than a law-breaking intent. Of course, I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV...:rolleyes:

In all honesty, the "pawn check" requirements predated the current Internet-based gun sales situation, and to my knowledge have not been updated; I can envision a stolen gun being listed on a auction site or For Sale board, and transferred out of state without the serial # ever being checked at any point in the process. Obviously I cannot speak to the local or state requirements for dealers in other jurisdictions.

I don't see how a dealer could be 100% confident that a transferred gun was or was not stolen without either waiting for the NCIC/pawn checks both before sending and after receiving the gun, or a comprehensive national registry of all firearms and their current owners - which I definitely don't like the idea of...

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