Illegal to own a gun without a serial number?


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FIVETWOSEVEN
December 30, 2009, 04:40 PM
I heard that you can't own a gun without a serial number on it, i can understand in a state where you have to register your guns but this is NH.

is it illegal?

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highorder
December 30, 2009, 04:44 PM
is it illegal?

Not as far as the Federal government is concerned.

Many guns made before 1968 do not have serial numbers. If its a post '68 gun and the number has been defaced, that's a problem. If it's granddads .22 from the '30's, you'll be fine.

Stophel
December 30, 2009, 05:00 PM
This serial number thing seems to just terrify some people to the point of absolute hysteria. I have read on other boards where someone inherited an old Colt P.P. from his grandfather, and the serial number had been removed, and it just terrified him. He actually destroyed the gun... :banghead:

Another wanted to buy an old S&W Hand Ejector that had the serial number on the bottom of the grip frame removed and was just totally fear-stricken that the ATF would SOMEHOW find out and bust in his door in the middle of the night...


For cryin' out loud.

What they don't know, can't hurt you.

CoRoMo
December 30, 2009, 05:01 PM
I don't know about NH, but highorder is right. Older guns won't always have a SN, and if you build a gun yourself, it won't have a SN unless you decide to stamp one on the frame. I've got an old .22 that doesn't seem to have a number as far as I can tell. My dad and brother 'built' their own 1911s, and neither have a SN.

jhco
December 30, 2009, 05:02 PM
If it was manufactured with no serial number than its legal.

rcmodel
December 30, 2009, 05:05 PM
But, if it was manufactured after the 1968 GCA with no serial number, then it is not legal.

rc

Stophel
December 30, 2009, 05:06 PM
Guns post 1968 had to be made (sold) with serial numbers. Before then, there was no requirement, HOWEVER, according to the Federales, if it was made (sold) with a serial number, no matter the date, it must retain that serial number. If it has been removed, no matter the date, it is now contraband. But again, why would they have to know?


And, no, I don't own any of these "contraband" guns...never had the opportunity to acquire one, but honestly, if it was something I wanted, and it wasn't a "psst...hey, buddy...wanna buy a gun?" situation, I don't think it would bother me at all.

Oro
December 30, 2009, 05:35 PM
If it has been removed, no matter the date, it is now contraband. But again, why would they have to know?

Here are a few scenarious that should make one pause and consider that:

1) Because someone breaks into your home and it's used in self defense. Or secured by officers when they arrive.

2) Perhaps stolen, then recovered by the police.

3) You are taking it to a range, get in an automobile accident and end up in an ambulance. Then the car is towed and the items secured.

There are lots of legitimate scenarios that if one is in possession of an illegal weapon, it can be revealed. The bottom line is not to be in possession of an illegal weapon. If the gun's serial number has been obliterated or altered, you are running a real risk of a serious federal felony charge.

wishin
December 30, 2009, 05:36 PM
Since some pre-68 guns did have serial numbers, the key is to not have any indication whatsoever of a possible removal. Absent that, something from the manufacturer or a credible source that the gun never had one, I would think. On the other hand, you would expect a reasonable person to surmise that a number was never imprinted.......maybe not.

FRJ
December 30, 2009, 08:29 PM
I had a gunsmith that at one time was in possession of a 1911 that had been welded back together after it was cut in half and scraped. The front half was not from the same frame as the rear half and therefore the serial numbers were altered. He got five years in Federal Pen. Lost hundreds of firearms and can never own a firearm again. His solution was a 9mm thru the brain. There are penalties for having altered serial numbers and the ATF is happy to enforce them. FRJ

RONSERESURPLUS
December 30, 2009, 08:35 PM
Hello all, RON L here

Yes, I will agree with many here that Stated that many Pre-1968 Firearms did not have a SN# in othjer cases like Home manufactored Guns do not have to have a SN#! The Real Rubber meets the Road at those folks that remove a SN or alter it or try to obiderate it/ The Metod used by Gangsters in the know is to drill out the Digits as any Buffing, Sanding or Milling of the stamped #'s is possible to restore using acid and a buffing agent! Best thing is if you get one of these turn it in or better yet destroy it, as losing your Gun rights, and Voting Rights is hardly worth it! Use your heads folks, Most know whats right and whats wrong and need to act accordingly!

RON

Jim Watson
December 30, 2009, 08:45 PM
Since some pre-68 guns did have serial numbers, the key is to not have any indication whatsoever of a possible removal.

I have seen pictures of some very neat removals, you would think there had never been a number there.
The problem is, it is fairly well known which guns had serial numbers and which did not.

A lot of servicemen, mostly from WW I and WW II, got worrried about the FBI tracking them down for theft of government property and deleted the US Property stamp and serial number from their pilfered service pistols. Some of them did a pretty good job of it. These tend to come down in the family and a grandson finds himself inheriting an unnumbered 1911 or 1917 and starts asking questions on the internet. He gets told that this is a no-no. This leads to a lot of wishful thinking about "Lunchbox Specials" stolen from the factory before the number was applied. This is hard to sustain in the face of final inspector's marks on military weapons.

A friend of mine worked in a pawn shop that was about 2/3 gun business. He took in a S&W with the serial number filed off the butt. He gave the guy a few bucks and called the cops and Feds as soon as he left the store. My knowledgeable friend showed the lawmen the other serial number locations which meant that the original owner got his stolen gun back and the crook still went to jail for removing the main number.

Y'all be careful, now, you hear?

divemedic
December 30, 2009, 09:29 PM
But, if it was manufactured after the 1968 GCA with no serial number, then it is not legal.

If I made a gun myself tomorrow, it does not have to have a serno.

Stophel
December 30, 2009, 09:51 PM
Not until you sell it.

deadin
December 31, 2009, 12:48 AM
My dad and brother 'built' their own 1911s, and neither have a SN.

And pray tell, where did they get an unnumbered frame? Or did they just file one out of a chunk of steel themselves?

Kurt_D
December 31, 2009, 01:00 AM
If I'm not mistaken there are 80% frames available, just like there are 80% forgings for ARs, flats for AKs or hell anybody with a clue and a CNC. Perfectly legal to complete and build your own firearm.

RP88
December 31, 2009, 01:06 AM
as said, post-GCA guns must be serialized.

However, is it possible to have a gun re-serialized or to restore a partially defaced number? Would there still be legal grey areas regarding that?

FIVETWOSEVEN
December 31, 2009, 01:12 AM
thats one thing i have been wondering, what if you inherit a gun made after 1968 with a filed number?

thebigc
December 31, 2009, 01:35 AM
if the sn if filed restamp it or you can get it acid etched and restamped its going to cost you and the atf will let you restamp no need to get rid of it but pepole only realy file things for shady reasons so you might want to just get rid of the offending item via a torch getting caught with a defaced sn is a crime.

my state has registration and when you buy something thats so old that it dosent have a sn they just put down no serial number in the box and if the cops check it in the computer it pops up that you have x model gun no sn,

Frank Ettin
December 31, 2009, 01:38 AM
Guns post 1968 had to be made (sold) with serial numbers. Before then, there was no requirement, HOWEVER, according to the Federales, if it was made (sold) with a serial number, no matter the date, it must retain that serial number. If it has been removed, no matter the date, it is now contraband. But again, why would they have to know?...So I guess you'd be willing to bet your future on not being found out. Sounds like a lousy bet to me. May be long odds of getting caught, but what's at stake is huge.

Ah well, it's not my problem.

...thats one thing i have been wondering, what if you inherit a gun made after 1968 with a filed number? IMO you've got a serious problem. I would either find a way to turn the gun in or I'd consult a firearms lawyer to confidentially contact the BATF to see if the gun could be issued a new serial number. BATF used to do that sort of thing. I don't know if they still do.

But I would not engage in conduct which is a federal felony in hopes I don't get caught.

evan price
December 31, 2009, 03:47 AM
Some guns which might have the main serial number defaced or damaged have the serial number in other places- such as inside the side plate.
If this is the case, it is perfectly legal to have the correct, assigned serial number re-applied to the frame using letters/numbers at least as big as the originals. You can even move it somewhere else on the frame as long as it is legible and not likely to be damaged or deliberately defaced easily.

This happens all the time for example when a gunsmith has to polish down a rusty frame and then reblue it. Or a High Power when they checker the front strap.

Heck, I think BATFE has a procedure for those old war-trophy guns that had the US PROPERTY marks and serials ground off where you can apply for a new serial number.

CoRoMo
December 31, 2009, 09:42 AM
Posted by myself
My dad and brother 'built' their own 1911s, and neither have a SN.
Posted by deadin
And pray tell, where did they get an unnumbered frame? Or did they just file one out of a chunk of steel themselves?

Kurt D beat me to the answer. It was a couple 1911 kits that they bought from a dealer out of Arizona. The frames were 60% or 80% finished, I don't remember. They just had to finish some of the machining themselves. Fairly simple process actually because it was just a matter of drilling holes and milling out slots, etc. so that all the parts fit together. Although the bluing is poor and they are not all that attractive otherwise, those two guns operate impressively well. I shoot them every chance I get and am always amazed that those two guys could put these things together in their garage and come out with such well functioning pistols. My dad's is bone stock from the day he finished it, but my brother has continued to improve his bit by bit in a number of areas.

These type kits are still available today, the last time I looked around for one.

Stophel
December 31, 2009, 11:04 AM
Assuming honest sellers (again, no back alley car trunk deals) or a handed down family gun, it's just not something I'd worry about. I quit worrying about such things some time ago. Besides, I'm pretty much ready to go anyway.

Bubbles
December 31, 2009, 11:05 AM
But, if it was manufactured after the 1968 GCA with no serial number, then it is not legal.

Not necessarily. A Type 07 or 10 FFL (manufacturer) must mark all firearms made with the serial number, manufacturer name, city, state, etc. A non-FFL who makes firearms for personal use and without the intent to sell them doesn't have to put any markings on the gun. These guns can legally be transferred, sold, traded, gifted, inherited, etc.

There are plenty of non-serialized guns still in circulation. When they come into the shop for transfer we just mark "NSN" for the serial number in the bound book.

thats one thing i have been wondering, what if you inherit a gun made after 1968 with a filed number?

Since posession of such a firearm is a crime (altering or defacing the number is a separate crime), I would strip the parts for re-use, and destroy the receiver.

Frank Ettin
December 31, 2009, 11:19 AM
....I quit worrying about such things some time ago. Besides, I'm pretty much ready to go anyway. Some of us might not be "ready to go", so it's a completely different question.

Stophel
December 31, 2009, 11:37 AM
That's my only advantage.

deadin
December 31, 2009, 11:41 AM
CoRoMo is right, these 60% - 80% "kits" are available. I found one place in Montana that sells them and only wants an ounce of gold (literally!) for them.
(or $1000.00 if you insist in paying with Federal Reserve Notes. That's for the "kit". Just the frame is $300)
That seems pretty steep for the pleasure of building your own unless you have a reason to own an unnumbered gun. (You can get a finished Caspian frame from Brownells for $182.99)

So, there are a couple of loopholes in the "no serial = illegal" statement. There are usually "loopholes" in most everything, but just aren't feasible for most of us.
But FAIAP a post 1968 or an earlier gun that was manufactured with a serial and currently doesn't have one will more than likely bring you grief if you are found with it. You will probably, at least, have to make your argument before a judge. I guess if you enjoy this sort of thing, why not?

Th OP posed a good question concerning States or other places that require registration. I have no idea how they would see it. As for selling one at a later date, it's my understanding that the frame will have to be numbered and have the makers name added. (Or is there another "loophole"?)

Art Eatman
December 31, 2009, 11:49 AM
1. A gun which was legally produced before serial numbers were mandatory is a legal gun for possession and use.

2. A gun which was produced with a serial number and that serial number was defaced/removed and not restored may not be possessed.

3. As near as I can tell, a person can build and then possess/use a gun without a serial number if it is strictly for personal use and is not offered for sale or trade.

Fair summary?

highorder
December 31, 2009, 11:52 AM
That's about the size of it, Art.

deadin
December 31, 2009, 12:48 PM
Art,
That pretty well covers it. However, I have found that there are always "exceptions". I have also found that if the "exception" becomes, or is perceived, as a problem, the rules are usually changed.
Then the internet lawyers have to go looking for another "exception".:neener:

Sam1911
December 31, 2009, 12:51 PM
A non-FFL who makes firearms for personal use and without the intent to sell them doesn't have to put any markings on the gun. These guns can legally be transferred, sold, traded, gifted, inherited, etc.

These guns can NOT be legally sold without first inscribing a serial number, maker's name, and maker's location.

Check out this letter from the ATF: http://www.hoffmang.com/firearms/BATFE-AMD-65-Manufacture-Marking-2004-11-09.pdf

Specifically on page 2 where it states: ...a non-licensee may make a semiautomatic rifle for his or her own personal use. As long as the rifle remains in the custody of the person who manufactured it, the firearm need not be marked with a serial number or name and location of the manufacturer. However, if the firearm is transferred to another party at some point in the future, the firearm must be marked in accordance with the provisions set forth in 27 CFR 478.92 (formerly 178.92).

So, if you see a home-built firearm for sale, or owned by anyone other than the original builder, and it doesn't have a serial number, manufacturer's name and location, it is contraband.

-Sam

HankB
December 31, 2009, 10:08 PM
So, if you see a home-built firearm for sale, or owned by anyone other than the original builder, and it doesn't have a serial number, manufacturer's name and location, it is contraband. Without an exception for inheritance, this could be hard on the guy whose late father was a machinist. :( (On the other hand, who's to tell who made it?)

On the topic of serial numbers . . .

If I were somehow to come into possession of a firearm that had the serial number removed, altered, or defaced, I would be MUCH more inclined to destroy it rather than turn it in. Turning it in involves admission of possession of contraband, however briefly, and I wouldn't put it past some eager-beaver bureaucrat to give me a hard time even though I would have been " . . . trying to do the right thing."

Oro
January 1, 2010, 01:37 AM
if the sn if filed restamp it or you can get it acid etched and restamped

The "acid etching" procedure confuses people. It is not at all like "acid etching" a metal surface to prepare it for finishing or painting. And it is NOT a method to find out the S/N and reapply it. It is a destructive laboratory method to "recover" a defaced number, and it destroys the frame in the process. They use extremely potent acids, Hydroflouric acid I think, and it eats away large pieces of the steel as it works. After a ballistics technician uses acid etching in this way the frame is unusable as anything except "evidence."

There are some online versions of ballistics laboratory manuals out there and if you google a bit you may find one that goes into the detail.

FIVETWOSEVEN
January 1, 2010, 02:20 PM
I don't really have a gun like that, it just came to mind. is there a way to relegalize one?

AR-15 Rep
January 1, 2010, 02:44 PM
It was mentioned above on how to legalize one...

Quote:
A non-FFL who makes firearms for personal use and without the intent to sell them doesn't have to put any markings on the gun. These guns can legally be transferred, sold, traded, gifted, inherited, etc.

These guns can NOT be legally sold without first inscribing a serial number, maker's name, and maker's location.

Check out this letter from the ATF: http://www.hoffmang.com/firearms/BAT...2004-11-09.pdf

Specifically on page 2 where it states:
Quote:
...a non-licensee may make a semiautomatic rifle for his or her own personal use. As long as the rifle remains in the custody of the person who manufactured it, the firearm need not be marked with a serial number or name and location of the manufacturer. However, if the firearm is transferred to another party at some point in the future, the firearm must be marked in accordance with the provisions set forth in 27 CFR 478.92 (formerly 178.92).

So, if you see a home-built firearm for sale, or owned by anyone other than the original builder, and it doesn't have a serial number, manufacturer's name and location, it is contraband.

-Sam

We have been selling the 80%'s in ar-15 and .308 type "paperweights" for a while with no problems. Currently I know of a company making the jigs and supplying bits for those to complete. Not sure what the cost is going to be but it won't cost an ounce of gold.

Gatorbait
January 1, 2010, 02:55 PM
Art Eatman, On serial number restoration. I have an M1911 apparently delivered to the Navy in 1912, like OLD. My brother and I have had it since 1947, but it was built long before the 1934 or 1968 law. Some idiot who must have stolen it scraped off (more like gouged off) the property of info and the seial number and whatever else was on the outside of the frame portion. Later, someone--probably the same cat--restored the serial number (71##) and the markings on the receiver beneath the slide seem to confirm its age. Anyhow, reading your post indicates that because of its age I don't have a legal problem, but it's been mutilated and no one will believe its age.

I guess I have a shooter. Gunsmith gave it an A+.

dogngun
January 1, 2010, 02:56 PM
with no SN's. It is perfectly legal to own these guns - I have owned several.

mark

deadin
January 1, 2010, 03:26 PM
Gatorbait,

If the serial was removed and later restamped, how do you know the one that's on it is correct? Yes, 71xx was a number associated with a USN production in 1912, but there were no other serials on the gun when manufactured, so what makes you believe that 71xx is a correct number and not just one someone made up.
In the early 1920s there was a serial stamped on the bottom of the slide on some commercial guns and then from serial 710001 to 114000 military guns were marked with a serial under the firing pin stop.
Even if yours was one of the few WW1 militarys that were returned to Colt for refinish in the early 1920s and had the military serial stamped on the bottom of the slide, there is no guarantee the the frame is original to the slide.
All I'm trying to say is that if a gun appears to have had its original serial removed, you could come to grief trying to prove that the "new" serial is legit.

TEDDY
January 1, 2010, 03:37 PM
the acid wont destroy the gun. I have used it on guns that have the maker worn off and it works.all you have to do is use it till the markings show.
I would not worry about a guns numbers unless you are an idiot and do something to call attention.
sarco was selling frames for under $25 some partly finished and some just castings.:rolleyes::uhoh:

jaysouth
January 1, 2010, 03:44 PM
18USC 922(k)

Letter of the Law:

It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to transport, ship, or receive, interstate or foreign commerce, any firearm which has had the importer's or manufacturer's serial number removed, obliterated or altered or to possess or receive any firearm which has had the importer's or manufacturer,s serial number removed, obliterated or altered, and has at any time, been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.


Additional remarks by ATFE:

Consequently, ATFE does not authorize anyone, including gunsmiths, to remove or relocate serial numbers for ANY purpose including refinishing, mounting sights, or fitting custom stocks or grips. It is irrelevant that you would remark the receiver with the original serial number.

My remarks:

This was in response to obtaining the proper form to notify the ATF that I wanted to checker the frontstrap of a BHP and move the serial number to a location above the right grip panel.

I was under the mistaken notion that I could move the serial number with the blessing of the ATFE. It won't happen.

Chuck Warner
January 1, 2010, 04:05 PM
....Moving the serial number was a big issue in the early days of IPSC.Many guns had numbers obliterated due to scope mounting. You couldnt move them back then. dunno now.

Chuck

jaysouth
January 1, 2010, 09:17 PM
Chuck Warner,


Check my post above:

"additional remarks by BATFE"

Looks pretty clear to me.



If anyone has a question about such matters, call the local BATFE office. They will refer you to the technical section in WVA. The folks that answer this phone are very knowledgable and seem to want to help. You don't have to give them your name or address.

If the OP had called them with this question, he would have gotten a straight answer from the folks who matter, not a lot of internet chatter and wild guesses.
I have called them on a number of occasions and been satisfied with their reponse, but not always happy with the answer.

If the response is unclear or ambiguous, get a name and mailing address. They will always give you a written response with appropriate statutory quotes.

Chuck Warner
January 2, 2010, 09:34 PM
....I appreciate the post. When I said I dont know, I was refering to very recent time, last couple of months? I have been a licensed manufacturer since the 90's when this wasnt clear.
I dont really need to re read the regs concerning it as I dont move them period.
Your post will be valuable to those considering it though;)

Chuck W

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