Six Presumably Dumb Questions on Pre- and Post- GCA68 Serial Number Requirements


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230RN
September 9, 2007, 10:10 AM
I am aware of the fact that .22 rimfire rifles manufactured before the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA68) did not necessarily have serial numbers, since this was not a requirement prior to enactment of this law. (Apparently some manufacturers used serial numbers anyhow, just as you would find on your refrigerator or other consumer items.)

However, in constructing a firearms inventory for myself, I discovered that I can not find a serial number on a Mossberg 500 12-Ga shotgun I bought (new) sometime in the sixties.

It is possible, I suppose, that any serial number may be "buried" somewhere (like some Colt revolvers, which have a number "hidden" on the frame under the crane).

QUESTION 1: Were serial numbers required on shotguns manufactured prior to GCA68?

QUESTION 2: If serial numbers were required, where might it be "buried" on a Mossberg 500 built prior to GCA68?

QUESTION 3: What other types or brands of firearms built prior to GCA68 might be legally missing serial numbers?

QUESTION 4: Were serial numbers required on firearms manufactured prior to the National Firearms Act (NFA) of the 1930s?

QUESTION 5: Are any newly-manufactured firearms presently exempted from the serial number provisions of GCA68?

QUESTION 6: Do firearms legally missing serial numbers have any enhanced value on the open market?

Thanks in advance.

230RN

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CleverNickname
September 9, 2007, 12:45 PM
1. No. But most firearms had serial numbers anyways.
2. No idea. Maybe call Mossberg and ask?
3. Only firearms regulated by the NFA were required to have a serial number.
4. Not at the federal level. I don't think there was much federal gun law prior to the NFA, was there?
5. Only title I firearms made by a non-FFL. Such firearms have to be made with the intention of it being for personal use, but may be sold later. A serial number is not required, but the BATFE suggests it, especially if the gun is sold later. If someone is making guns with the intention of selling them, then they need a manufacturer's FFL. Any gun manufactured by an FFL or any title II firearm must have a serial number.
6. Not to me, but I'm sure there are people out there who might pay extra.

I'm sure someone will correct me quickly if I'm wrong on any of these points. :)

Tommygunn
September 9, 2007, 01:32 PM
I own a Remington 550-1 semiauto .22 rifle my father owned, which was manufactured in the '50's. It has no serial number; Remington was able to date its manufacture from barrel markings.

elrod
September 9, 2007, 04:28 PM
I have a Winchester model 37 that has no serial#. It was given to me new by my father in 1959.

Jim Watson
September 9, 2007, 08:29 PM
Serial numbers were not required on firearms until GCA 68. As above some inexpensive models of even major brand names lacked them.

HOWEVER, it is still illegal to REMOVE the serial number from a gun that ever had one, no matter how old it is.

I don't think the lack of a serial number adds to the value of a pre -68 gun. Black market buyers don't care, they are not going to be readily traceable anyhow.

fixyurgun
September 9, 2007, 08:36 PM
I have a Westernfield 550A(which is a store brand mossberg 500) in my shop right now that has no ser.#. before the 68 GCA they were not required on any firearm. jim

SG Merc
September 9, 2007, 08:57 PM
For question six: Those who would find a non serial numbered gun the most appealing are the same group who would not want to pay much for a "disposable" weapon.

230RN
September 9, 2007, 09:05 PM
Jim Watson and others:

I don't think the lack of a serial number adds to the value of a pre -68 gun. Black market buyers don't care, they are not going to be readily traceable anyhow.

I totally agree, and I would not sell it anyhow. I should have noted that this is for insurance purposes, not for marketing purposes.

Based on the remarks about the Westernfield 550A (Mossy), I am not going to strip it down just to check for an SN.

That about covers my questions, and thanks to you all !

sacp81170a
September 10, 2007, 05:44 AM
QUESTION 2: If serial numbers were required, where might it be "buried" on a Mossberg 500 built prior to GCA68?

Actually, I ran into this very problem after I used my Mossberg 500 to qualify as a part time officer with my PD. We record the date, score and serial number of the weapon you qualified with as a matter of record. Oops, no serial number... :o

I contacted Mossberg and they told me that Mossberg 500's were first manufactured in 1962 and were not serial numbered until required by the GCA of '68, so mine was manufactured between those dates. The same thing applies to a Winchester Model 69A .22 rifle that my wife owns. Your Mossy was manufactured between '62 and '68. Hope that helps.

230RN
September 10, 2007, 09:19 AM
sacp81170a noted:

Actually, I ran into this very problem after I used my Mossberg 500 to qualify as a part time officer with my PD. We record the date, score and serial number of the weapon you qualified with as a matter of record. Oops, no serial number...

I contacted Mossberg and they told me that Mossberg 500's were first manufactured in 1962 and were not serial numbered until required by the GCA of '68, so mine was manufactured between those dates. The same thing applies to a Winchester Model 69A .22 rifle that my wife owns. Your Mossy was manufactured between '62 and '68. Hope that helps.

Boy, do that ever help! Saves me a phone call today!

Thanks!

Actually, I've got a couple of pre-GCA68 guns which don't have serial numbers.

I once (ca 1980?) spent about a half hour in the snow while a DOW Officer radioed in to check on my statement that the .22 I was plinking with did not need a serial number.

paramedic70002
September 11, 2007, 01:04 PM
I have a Mossberg 500 that I purchased new around 1990. Can't find a serial number on it anywhere. I suppose it could have been sitting around since 1967, but that would be weird!

AntiqueCollector
September 11, 2007, 01:59 PM
For question six: Those who would find a non serial numbered gun the most appealing are the same group who would not want to pay much for a "disposable" weapon.

Umm, no, lot's of non-criminal/bad types like guns with no "paper trail" or other government tracking. Just look at how a pre-1899 example of a gun fetches more money than a post-1899 example of the same gun in many cases...it may be a silly argument in the event of a gun confiscation but until then the extra privacy will add value in some cases.

SG Merc
September 11, 2007, 04:54 PM
Umm, no, lot's of non-criminal/bad types like guns with no "paper trail" or other government tracking. Just look at how a pre-1899 example of a gun fetches more money than a post-1899 example of the same gun in many cases...it may be a silly argument in the event of a gun confiscation but until then the extra privacy will add value in some cases.

True, but with the ease of finding people willing to do private "face to face" transfers without keeping records I would say it's already easy to achieve this.

Indeed it's also possible that a dealer could still maintain a record of the sale of a weapon with no serial number. So it isn't whether the weapon is serial numbered or not that counts, but whether or not a record exists that says it's in your possession.

The paper trail ends where the paper trail ends.

CleverNickname
September 11, 2007, 05:18 PM
Indeed it's also possible that a dealer could still maintain a record of the sale of a weapon with no serial number.

An FFL is still required to record acquisitions and dispositions in their bound book, whether the gun has a serial number or not.

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