Police trace pistol to me! How?


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js2013
March 10, 2007, 11:19 PM
About 15 years ago I bought a new pistol and sold it years later. Recently I get a call from the Criminal Investigations department saying they picked up a bad guy with the pistol on him and are trying to determine how he got it. They said the gun was traced back to me! So how did they determine I was the original owner? Aren't those records supposed to be destroyed?

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Bartholomew Roberts
March 10, 2007, 11:24 PM
http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_registration.html

psyopspec
March 10, 2007, 11:24 PM
4473's are retained by the FFL until they close their business, then they're forwarded to the BATFE, IIRC.

Cesiumsponge
March 10, 2007, 11:40 PM
I thought it was no less than 20 years or until the store closes, whichever comes first.

Maybe I am just bad at figuring out "legal speak" (http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2002/aprqtr/27cfr178.129.htm)

(b) Firearms transaction record. Licensees shall retain each Form
4473 and Form 4473(LV) for a period of not less than 20 years after the
date of sale or disposition.

Rumble
March 10, 2007, 11:46 PM
Regardless of whether the 4473 is available, law enforcement can track down a gun to the original owner by contacting the manufacturer. Since FFL's need to keep bound books indicating the disposition of firearms in their possession, if a manufacturer can point to a wholesaler who can point to the specific FFL that received that gun, one ought to be able to find out who the original owner was.

Pilgrim
March 10, 2007, 11:50 PM
The ex-PMS dumped a pistol I bought twenty years ago. The police asked BATFE to trace it. BATFE called the dealer I bought it from, and she pulled the 4473 that had my name on it.

I got the pistol back.

Pilgrim

2TransAms
March 10, 2007, 11:53 PM
Law enforcement considers a trace successful if they trace it from manufacturer > wholesaler > gun store > original purchaser, which is easy enough to do. A lot of times that's where the paperwork ends. And that's also why you should get receipts for any guns you sell. Essentially you want proof of non-ownership in case someone pulls a stunt with a firearm you used to own.

taliv
March 10, 2007, 11:57 PM
or you could just buy guns and not ever sell them

49north
March 11, 2007, 03:06 AM
and keep them locked up nice and snug at home until them come to take them.

2TransAms
March 11, 2007, 10:26 AM
What I want to know is, how do they know how all these guns they're tracing are used for crimes? Who leaves their gun at the scene? Dumb criminals I guess...

Deanimator
March 11, 2007, 10:35 AM
About 15 years ago I bought a new pistol and sold it years later. Recently I get a call from the Criminal Investigations department saying they picked up a bad guy with the pistol on him and are trying to determine how he got it. They said the gun was traced back to me! So how did they determine I was the original owner? Aren't those records supposed to be destroyed?
The same thing happened to me almost twenty years ago.

When I was stationed at Ft. Knox, I bought a Colt Official Police from a local gunstore. Later, I traded the same gun to a different gunstore for something else.

Years later, while living here in Ohio, I got a letter from the gunstore to which I'd traded the gun. They'd gotten my address through the Army Locator Service. What had happened was that the gun had apparently been stolen in California years before that. It was eventually traced to the dealer to whom I'd traded it. Their records showed they'd gotten it from me. The [then] BATF wanted to know from whom I'd gotten it. I called the gunstore and told them that I'd bought the gun on a 4473 from another local gunstore. That's the last I heard, and I think that was 1988 or so.

1911austin
March 11, 2007, 11:02 AM
I had the ATF came out to me house one time. Some guy was selling a lot guns to felons (and ATF informants) in a Pier One parking lot. One of the guns the ATF took into evidence was originally purchased by me. I was quickly able to prove that I traded that gun back to the same gun were I bought it and never heard from the agents again.

TexasRifleman
March 11, 2007, 11:04 AM
or you could just buy guns and not ever sell them

That's what I have been doing but sheesh, I'm running out of room!

xd45gaper
March 11, 2007, 11:31 AM
the same way they can track a cow with mad cow disease in the US back to a farm in canada lol:D

armoredman
March 11, 2007, 11:43 AM
4473 limit is 25 years, and then destroyed, if FFL stays in business. If FFL close prior to 25 year limit, then turned over to ATFE, and kept forever.

Roccobro
March 11, 2007, 12:18 PM
Congrats on getting the pistol back. Is it beat up or in decent shape? I've seen what some of those never-do-wells are caught with and most aren't pretty.

Justin

Steve H
March 11, 2007, 12:46 PM
and keep them locked up nice and snug at home until them come to take them.

they come to take them "they" have better have some power with them and some luck

romma
March 11, 2007, 03:45 PM
:uhoh: I hope I keep all mine and never have to trade them, or never have them stolen after hearing what can go wrong...

GreenFurniture
March 11, 2007, 03:57 PM
An FFL must keep their 4473s for 20years or until they go out of business at which time they are forwarded to the BATFE.

How did they find you?

The importer or maker has a bound book listing which distributor they sold the gun to.

The distributor has a bound book listing which dealer they sold the gun to.

The dealer has a bound book listing which customer they sold the gun to.

The police capture a gun used in a crime. They contact the maker/importer who sends them down the chain and to your door.

BryanP
March 11, 2007, 03:59 PM
This is why some people insist on going through an FFL and a 4473 even for a private transfer. If something ever happens with it the trail won't stop at you.

zoom6zoom
March 11, 2007, 07:33 PM
the same way they can track a cow with mad cow disease in the US back to a farm in canada lol

And yet they can't track illegal immigrants or sex offenders. Maybe we should give them all cows.

Soybomb
March 11, 2007, 11:47 PM
A lot of times that's where the paperwork ends. And that's also why you should get receipts for any guns you sell. Essentially you want proof of non-ownership in case someone pulls a stunt with a firearm you used to own.
Why should I as the buyer want to give a perfect strange my name and address as well as the little bit of juicy information that I most likely have at least 1 firearm and probably several more at that address? Can you show this has been a problem for people? I've heard it suggested that it might be whenever I talk to someone that has had that happen to them they just tell the investigator the truth of "I sold it some years back..." and that was the end of that.

mio
March 12, 2007, 12:03 AM
in michigan you have to have a permit for any handgun purchase whether it is new or used. only takes a few minutes to get one and you save the permit after you buy the gun. when you sell it you keep a portion of the buyers permit. also after buying a handgun you take it to the police station for registration.

its really less trouble than it sounds like and makes tracking pretty simple.

Vonderek
March 12, 2007, 11:36 AM
Sounds like we already have gun registration.

Libertylover
March 12, 2007, 11:45 AM
in michigan you have to have a permit for any handgun purchase whether it is new or used. only takes a few minutes to get one and you save the permit after you buy the gun. when you sell it you keep a portion of the buyers permit. also after buying a handgun you take it to the police station for registration.

its really less trouble than it sounds like and makes tracking pretty simple.

That's right, be a good and obedient slave...:banghead:

Cosmoline
March 12, 2007, 11:47 AM
No, it's not registration yet. The line goes as far as the last FFL to hold records on that SN. Registration would extend the records out into private citizens, so each transfer would have to be recorded by each private owner and those records would be on file as well.

striker3
March 12, 2007, 04:00 PM
No, it's not registration yet. The line goes as far as the last FFL to hold records on that SN. Registration would extend the records out into private citizens, so each transfer would have to be recorded by each private owner and those records would be on file as well.

Welcome to California

Aguila Blanca
March 12, 2007, 10:47 PM
What I want to know is, how do they know how all these guns they're tracing are used for crimes? Who leaves their gun at the scene? Dumb criminals I guess...
Or smart criminals.

Criminals who know they are using a stolen gun and don't want to be caught with a stolen gun that can be associated with a crime they committed. They didn't buy it from an FFL so it can't be traced to them. Why should they be worried about leaving your gun at a crime scene? They've probably got a closet full of 'em at home.

vynx
March 13, 2007, 06:19 PM
Haven't you ever watched the Godfather?

Hold your arm against your leg and drop the gun - suppossedly if you are caught but not in possession of the gun a good lawyer can get you off?
But, if you are caught with the gun you are gonna get convicted.

I think that was in the old days before testing for gunpowder residue and other things.

What I can't see is how having a recipt matters - if some criminal uses a gun I sold 20 years ago what are the chances that I have no alibi and can be placed at the scene of the crime?

No motive for one thing.

shaggycat
March 13, 2007, 07:09 PM
Sounds like we already have gun registration.

That's what I was thinking. For all intensive purposes, it appears we do, in a roundabout way.

And say that, in a few years, we officially adopt registration. What would stop the gov from just taking the records from FFLs?

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