How can you check the history of a gun?


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Steve H
November 24, 2009, 11:29 AM
I was given a Colt Python for doing some work for a friend. The s/n dates this gun back to 1971. I cannot get the complete history of the gun from the person that gave it to me. Is there a way for an individual to check the serial number on the federal database to make sure you are not in possession of a stolen gun?

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CoRoMo
November 24, 2009, 11:45 AM
Call up a number of pawn shops. Whether they run the numbers on every gun that is pawned has been disputed here, but I have to imagine that this is what they do.

Otherwise, contact the local PD or SD and ask them. I'm certain that they can.

Either way, it might cost you a fee for that service.

Dokkalfar
November 24, 2009, 06:33 PM
Any place that has a FFL (and runs NICS checks) should be able to run the firearm for you. If not, your local PD would be the best place to try

highorder
November 24, 2009, 06:39 PM
Please educate me.

I have worked for 3 FFL's, and we never ran anything with anyone.

I once called the county sheriff when some hoodrats brought in an obviously stolen gun. I was instructed to keep the gun for the sheriff to pick up. I gave the sheriff the serial number over the phone; there was a 2-3 min wait and then he told me to keep the gun.

What did the sheriff do? Make a call? Online database?

As far as I know, there is no database available to non-LEO, and if there is a database available to LEO, its fractured and must be woefully incomplete.

Please educate me.

dk148
November 24, 2009, 06:50 PM
FFL's do not have the ability to trace firearms.

Contact the ATF and see if they can help you, and they may not have the time or the information to help.

TCOV
November 24, 2009, 07:14 PM
Possession of a stolen gun is not a crime unless you know it's stolen or are the one who stole it. It's a Python, be happy and shoot it.

Jim K
November 24, 2009, 07:16 PM
FFL's run a NICS check only on the purchaser of the gun. They do not have to give the model, caliber, or serial number, only the type of gun. The ATF will not run a trace for an individual, only as part of a criminal investigation.

In states or cities that require gun registration, the police will have a data base of guns, but obviously that will not be all the guns in the area. Police also sometimes have records of guns used in crimes or guns reported stolen, but those data bases are so full of holes as to be about useless. Whether they will provide a check for a stolen gun depends on their policy, but most won't.

Jim

mgkdrgn
November 26, 2009, 07:12 PM
The ATF, if they were so inclined, could contact the mfg of the gun to see where it went first ... and the distributor could tell you what FFL it went to. But, beyond that, you have to go FFL to FFL, digging through their paperwork.

Unless, of course, somewhere along the way the gun was involved in a face-to-face sale ... in which case there need be no record.

I am an FFL, and if there is a way for me to trace firearms, or to check them against some "national stolen gun" database ... I don't know anything about it. Nor did the ATF agent who did my interview/site visit, because that is one of the questions I directly asked him.

FFL's do not have the ability to trace firearms.

Contact the ATF and see if they can help you, and they may not have the time or the information to help.

gideon_70
November 27, 2009, 08:42 PM
If you go to my page, www.daytonagunowners.com, there is a link to the state website where you can check a serial number to see if it has been reported stolen.

After doing that, if you are still unsure about a gun, contact any pawn shop in your area that buys guns, and ask who the state police rep is and the phone number. Call that person, and they will run the SN for you and tell you about the firearm. You will NOT get into trouble checking a serial number, and the most that will happen is a visit by the police, loss of the firearm, and a few questions about who you bought it from and so on. If the police run the number during a stop or for any other reason, and you have NOT made sure it is a legal weapon, then you can be arrested for possession of stolen property.

check my page, then call the pawn shop. Better safe than sorry (and a lot less expensive too)

merc4evr
December 22, 2009, 06:10 PM
I went to the local PD, to inquire about a handgun I was considering purchasing, to see if they could check to see if it was stolen. They couldn't or wouldn't. They told me I need to bring the gun in (buy it?) and then if it was stolen, they would confiscate it! They didn't say whether I would be charged with receiving stolen goods, but they did ask my name and address. And, the door to the station has a sign which reads, "no weapons allowed". Catch 22 all the way around. Any suggestions?

highorder
December 22, 2009, 06:31 PM
merc4evr, do you have reason to believe the firearm is stolen?

If not, there is no reason to look deeper. If you do have an inkling, I'd avoid the purchase.

kingmt
December 22, 2009, 06:42 PM
Any suggestions?Don't talk to cops. I you pawn it then buy it back it is clean & you will have a bill of sales that says it is clean. That is how it works here in WV & OH also. I assume it is this way in every state. Second option is do something stupid with it & let the cops catch you. Then tell them about the gun & they will be more then happy to check the numbers & tell you if there is anymore charges without you even having to ask.

I'm sure you already know that last part was a joke so stick to the first option.

w_houle
December 22, 2009, 08:40 PM
Get a GunFax report and save yourself a major headache :neener:

IllHunter
December 22, 2009, 08:46 PM
Seeing as the gun in question is a Colt, asking further seems to be "looking a gift horse in the ...muzzle?"

ThePunisher'sArmory
December 22, 2009, 08:49 PM
I agree with TCOV...keep it,shoot it, dont worry about it.

iiibdsiil
December 23, 2009, 01:19 PM
Call the local PD. If they don't care too much then I wouldn't worry about it.

Is there any formal system for serial numbers on guns? Couldn't 3 manufacturers have the same serial number anyways?

Sam1911
December 23, 2009, 01:46 PM
Couldn't 3 manufacturers have the same serial number anyways?Sure. But the serial number is not the only identifying feature of a firearm. Every form that documents the identity of a specific gun lists type of gun, manufacturer, and caliber, at least, and sometimes barrel length, etc.

Not much reason to worry about getting in hot water because your .458 Lott Ruger No. 1 has the same serial number as the Jennings .380 someone used to murder somebody.

-Sam

Jonah71
December 23, 2009, 02:01 PM
I'm glad to have read this thread. I have an elderly friend who has dozens of guns (almost exclusively revolvers) that he has purchased from various people and gun shows over a 20-30 year period and he wants me to have them. I've been very concerned about this same issue. Now I can just tell him "Thank You."

leadcounsel
December 23, 2009, 02:34 PM
And if it comes back as stolen? Then what. Do you surrender it? Was the owner ever reimbursed for it by an insurance company? Is your friend a suspect? It opens up a whole can of worms.

TPS
December 23, 2009, 03:36 PM
yes if the gun comes back as stolen it will likely have to be surrendered. it will be held in probate so to speak until the matter is cleared. more than likely you will get it back and the only part of the gun you are required to give up is the part with the serial # on it. any LEO can look up the serial # and tell you if their is a hit on the gun in question. i restore some old guns from time to time and if i am unsure of the history of them or the circumstances surrounding how the gun was aquired are a bit shady i will check the #s just to make sure all is well with the gun. this is a matter of protection for the customer.

highorder
December 23, 2009, 04:36 PM
any LEO can look up the serial # and tell you if their is a hit on the gun in question. i restore some old guns from time to time and if i am unsure of the history of them or the circumstances surrounding how the gun was aquired are a bit shady i will check the #s just to make sure all is well with the gun.

Hold on, that's the point of this thread.

Who do the LEO's call? Who you YOU call?

Does NC have registration?

TPS
December 23, 2009, 10:55 PM
the ones i deal with and do business with here in nc can run the numbers from their computer. I call and give the sn, make, cal of a gun and get a call back in a couple of minutes stating the outcome. i know for fact that they are checked. NICS is at their disposal. if the sn, make, cal has ever been entered into the database it will come up. that does not mean the gun is stolen or otherwise just that the gun in question has been entered into the database. but you could easily have a gun that is stolen or has been used in a crime and it never come back as such because it has never been entered in.

TPS
December 23, 2009, 11:07 PM
if a gun is stolen and it is not entered into the database there is no way of knowing it is stolen and the person in posession of said gun has done no wrong. i just finished restoring a Colt M1903. the gun was found nailed between two barn walls. funny place to keep a gun to me. the gun was inherited and completely disassembled and in a bag. i told the customer it would be a good idea to check the #s to make sure the item was not wanted for anything. it was made in 1918. no record came up on it. didnt think it would. but surrounding the circumstances known as to how the gun was found it would sure be a bad day for the new owner to get pulled over while carrying his freshly restored M1903 in his glove box, forget about it, pull into a license check and find out that the gun was stolen or being sought for use in commission of a felony. better safe than ever having the possibility of being sorry.

highorder
December 23, 2009, 11:15 PM
the ones i deal with and do business with here in nc can run the numbers from their computer. I call and give the sn, make, cal of a gun and get a call back in a couple of minutes stating the outcome. i know for fact that they are checked. NICS is at their disposal.

NICS has nothing to do with this. NICS has no information on firearms.

You call LEO's and they have access to a database? Can you confirm if there is handgun or longgun registration in NC? What database are you referring to?

TPS
December 23, 2009, 11:27 PM
it has nothing to do with any kind of registration. if your car is stolen you call the law and say my honda has been stolen. you give them the vin # color and other specifics. if you just purchaced the car and had not tagged it yet LEO has no record of it being yours or having the vin # in their database yet. you give it to them and thats what they are looking for. at that point there is a history created on your ride. no different with a gun. say i have a 1911 that i purchaced from an individual. nobody has ever registered the gun and other than the original purchaser nothing else is known about the gun. the gun is stolen from my truck in a parking lot. i call the law to file a report of robbery. i go to my safe and get out my list of serial numbers and give them the #s for the 1911 that has been stolen. at that point that gun has a history created on it. it has been entreed into a datebase and if is is recovered and that number is run it will come up. it has nothing to do with a gun being registered. it has to do with a database not alot unlike the database for wants and warrants.

highorder
December 24, 2009, 12:25 AM
it has been entreed into a datebase and if is is recovered and that number is run it will come up. it has nothing to do with a gun being registered. it has to do with a database not alot unlike the database for wants and warrants.

Ok, here's the thing;

The point of this thread is to gain insight into EXACTLY what databases exist, who has access to them, and how complete they are.

You seem to think that they just "create" a "database" whenever they get information?

How many stolen guns, cars, etc. get scribbled on a legal pad and end up in a manilla folder, or the trash?

Note what Jim said above:
In states or cities that require gun registration, the police will have a data base of guns, but obviously that will not be all the guns in the area. Police also sometimes have records of guns used in crimes or guns reported stolen, but those data bases are so full of holes as to be about useless.

You said that you call LEO's and they search a database. Do you have any additional concrete information, or are you simply guessing as to the procedures and capabilities of your location?

TPS
December 24, 2009, 06:54 AM
i have watched them do it. thats all the "concrete" i need. i dont care "what" the gun has done, as much as i care if the gun is "wanted" in connection of a crime. exactly what database exist in your area is im sure different than here where i am.

highorder
December 24, 2009, 11:46 AM
You have given us no real information on what actually exists in your area.

Apparently, NC has a voluntary database:

With the sole exception of Durham County, if you are a law-abiding citizen who lives in North Carolina you are entitled to possess the firearms you currently own without any hassle or red tape. Some county sheriffs, inundated with inquiries from people who move to NC from more restrictive areas where registration or ownership permits are required by law, have instituted voluntary notification procedures. In other words, if you have a burning desire to tell a public official about your private possessions, in some counties they will take your information and store it in a computer database.

http://www.ncrpa.org/ncgunfaq.htm

TPS
December 24, 2009, 12:31 PM
there is NO registration of guns in NC. hope that clears that up. in no way did i say or intend to imply there is any kind of local or state database. it is national. and it works. if your gun is stolen and you call your local LEO and give them the specifics on your gun i have no idea what they will do with that info. but IF they enter that info into the system and your gun turns up in a drug bust in calforina you will be contacted stating that your gun has been recovered and will be returned to you if possible.

highorder
December 24, 2009, 12:47 PM
there is NO registration of guns in NC. hope that clears that up. in no way did i say or intend to imply there is any kind of local or state database.

Thank you for the clarification.

it is national. and it works.

You're speaking of the NCIC database (http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fbi/is/ncic.htm). As has been stated here before, it's woefully incomplete.

your gun turns up in a drug bust in calforina you will be contacted stating that your gun has been recovered and will be returned to you if possible.

If your gun was recovered from a crime scene, it will usually not be returned.

TPS
December 24, 2009, 01:02 PM
usually being the key word. thats why i said in my post it would be returned if possible. and it is possible. and many recovered guns get sold thru dealers. as woefully incomplete as NCIC is i would much rather know that i was in posession of a gun that was on it than not. and yes it does work. if you was wanted on felony warrants in ohio and you were pulled for speeding in utah and the man run YOUR numbers guess what............... your going to jail. same system. is it flawed? sure it is. has there ever been any system or anyone that has been without flaw? just ONE......... and it aint NCIC:)

Leader
December 24, 2009, 01:40 PM
Just as a point of information, In Michigan, we have registration for handguns.
Handguns CAN NOT be bought or sold at pawn shops.
If you contact any police (local up to state) and request them to "run the numbers" on a gun, they CAN NOT do it by law.
When you go to register a handgun, they do check to see if it has been reported stolen or was used in a crime. If so... you loose it. If you can't provide them with enough information about where you got it, you WILL be arrested.
Guns used in crimes get destroyed after the trial. Stolen guns ... sometimes don't manage to find their way back to the original owners. Some of them seem to get lost.

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