Is it legal to move the serial # on a firearm?


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BigBlock
November 29, 2008, 09:16 PM
I'm customizing my GP100, and, among other things I'll making the barrel "blank", no billboard, and no Ruger logo. Problem is, I want to stamp/engrave "Ruger GP100" where the serial number currently is.

Is it legal to stamp the serial under the grips, and then remove the other serial number? This is still a solid part of the "receiver" of the revolver.

Edit: Woohoo! Lucky post #777. :D

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thirdeagle
November 29, 2008, 09:26 PM
I can't site any specific laws but I would venture a guess that you should not monkey with the serial number.

"Defacement or removal of the serial number (if present) is a felony offense." So says Wikipedia.com in reference to the Gun Control Act of 1968.

kingpin008
November 29, 2008, 09:34 PM
I'm inclined to agree with ThirdEagle's assessment.

However, you can find out for certain by contacting the BATF. I'd reckon they'd know better than we would.

Frank Ettin
November 29, 2008, 11:25 PM
I seem to recall several years ago reading about a well known custom gunsmith who customized a Browning High Power and who got authorization from BATF to move the serial number so that he could fully checker the front strap. It would be a pretty safe bet that the smith had an FFL, and might even have been licensed as a manufacturer.

So I agree with kingpin008. You need to check with BATF. And if you can do it at all, I strongly suspect that there would be a good deal of bureaucratic rigmarole to go through.

glockman19
November 29, 2008, 11:50 PM
delete

JohnKSa
November 29, 2008, 11:58 PM
I think it would be perfectly legal to stamp the serial number in a second location if one location gets covered up (as with the installation of a tang sight on some lever rifles). I think it's questionable if you completely remove it from one location and put a copy somewhere else.

I'd definitely want something in writing...

Eightball
November 30, 2008, 12:12 AM
Here's a question; I've heard that the SN, when applied, is most often "imprinted" into the metal so that even if you deface the SN, with the correct technology, you can still "see" the SN on the frame and such.

If the above is true, why would it matter about scootching the SN around?

Frank Ettin
November 30, 2008, 12:20 AM
...If the above is true, why would it matter about scootching the SN around...
Short answer 1: because BATF has no sense of humor.

Short answer 2: because it's illegal -- see post #5, above.

ilbob
November 30, 2008, 12:23 AM
why does it even need a SN in the first place? It would shoot just as well w/o one.

Oro
November 30, 2008, 12:24 AM
If the above is true, why would it matter about scootching the SN around

What you are describing is the method licensed Firearms Examiners in forensics units use to "recover" obliterated s/n's. It is a laborious process that is gone through in a lab to retrieve it. It is not 100% effective, and it irreparably weakens and damages the frame (powerful acid is used in the process). Mere possession of a Firearm with an obliterated/altered s/n is a serious felony, and not worth the risk.

Example: Last year I found a correct and intact WWI 1911, with all correct parts and military proofs. Someone had, however, removed the "US Property" from the frame and altered the S/N. I consulted with the local ATF and did legal research, and it was still a serious felony to own the gun. I investigated restoring the S/N using the acid etching process (or any other technology, such as x-ray crystallography), but it would have wrecked the frame in the process of recovering the original s/n and re-applying it, and/or been prohibitively expensive.

I can understand the OP's desire to "clean up" the appearance of his Ruger. Lord know's why they care so little about the appearance of their guns that they stamp up the barrels and mark up the frame with the S/N. Because of that, the "newest" Ruger I have was made in 1973, before they started that.

THe court case JohnnyDollar cites above isn't relevant, as it is about obliterating, with the intent of hiding, the original s/n. It might be possible to get permission from the BATF, but you'd better have that in hand before doing so, or your work could land you in jail for your effort.

HorseSoldier
November 30, 2008, 12:32 AM
I seem to recall several years ago reading about a well known custom gunsmith who customized a Browning High Power and who got authorization from BATF to move the serial number so that he could fully checker the front strap. It would be a pretty safe bet that the smith had an FFL, and might even have been licensed as a manufacturer.

I'm not sure if they were the only ones, but Yost-Bonitz did that as part of their SRT package High Power mods. (Ted Yost may still do so now that Yost-Bonitz has dissolved.)

http://alaskagun.com/ak_gallery/upl/images/__125__Yost 33 SRT 1.jpg

http://alaskagun.com/ak_gallery/upl/images/__130__Yost 33 SRT 6.jpg

7.62X25mm
November 30, 2008, 01:45 AM
Here is a court case from 2002 saying alterations are illegal:

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P3-224369771.html

"It is unlawful for anyone knowingly to possess any firearm.. that has had the manufacturer's serial number removed, obliterated, or altered."

2RCO
November 30, 2008, 02:07 AM
Big Block, Get an ATF letter saying it's OK and then you can proceed. It may be easier to find a Smith with a manufacturers license to do the work and get a letter. Either way always keep a copy of the letter with the gun.

2RCO
November 30, 2008, 02:12 AM
Attempt to get a letter of OK from the ATF. If they will not send you one as an individual get a Smith with a FFL to send off for a letter and do the work. Either way always keep a copy of the letter available for legal purposes.

ar10
November 30, 2008, 09:35 AM
I believe it's a federal criminal violation. Here's a link to federal regs. Type in "serial number" in the search box. There's a bunch so you can decide for yourself.
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/FAQ/469

frogomatic
November 30, 2008, 11:30 AM
According to my instructors at school(Colorado School of Trades), it is legal to move the SN to another readily visible portion of the reciever, so long as the alphanumeric code remains the same. I know of several instances where this was done. The school is very particular about doing everything by the book, as they are under close scrutiny, and have a great deal to lose.

The 'alterations' spoke of in previous posts are in reference to making the SN illegible, or changing the code.

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