How long are records kept?


June 14, 2004, 09:05 AM
I was under the impression that the store keeps your yellow form for a specific amount of time, but the fed have to destroy all records of gun transactions. Is this true?

I also thought that keeping a record of who bought what gun and when was against the law for the govt.

The comes up because last week a gal was shot and killed in a town about 50 miles away. My brother, I hot tub tech, was at the address a acouple of hours before the shooting to service the victim's uncle's hot tob.

Two days after the incedent, the cops come knocking on his door and started asking questions. One of the things they brought up were the .380 and the 9mm he bought like five years ago!?!?!?! How in the heck did they know he bought those? He says he didn't tell them, he says they brought it up, they even knew the models and the serial numbers ***?

BTW, Idaho doesnt require FOID cards or anything else to buy a gun other than what the fed require.

After his alibis, they cleared him of the suspect list, but still. I have always belived that they could not keep the records like that.

If you enjoyed reading about "How long are records kept?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
Art Eatman
June 14, 2004, 09:41 AM
An FFL licensee keeps the yellow sheets for as long as the license is active.

It is my understanding--which might be in error--that while BATFE cannot take away these yellow sheets, they've been photo-copying them. Further, the results of the FBI's NICS checks are supposed to be deleted after a certain amount of time, but it is doubted that this is done.

Recovery of the bullet(s) might have allowed identification as a .380. It is entirely possible that the police checked through the log of firearms transactions at local-area gun stores for sales of .380 pistols. Time-consuming, but possible. These are relatively low volume sales items, so they're readily found. Probably more sales of the regular 9mm, but in the book is in the book.

If a store's paperwork is done in a timely manner, all transactions involving firearms are logged. If rifles, handguns and shotguns are logged separately, the records check is much easier. In today's world, it's possible all transactions are computerized...

Just guessing...


June 14, 2004, 10:07 AM
Law changed - keep 4473 for 25 years. If the shop goes out of business before 25 years is up then 4473 goes to BATFE files for eternity....

June 14, 2004, 10:11 AM
Art's right, the shop keep the yellow form as long as they are in business. When they go out of business, they're required to send all those yellow form to the BATFE. I'm sure they are recording the data from them into a database.

I have no doubt that the NIC records are "destroyed" after 24 hours as required by law. The question that needs to be asked is what is the backup schedule and retention of backup data from the computers that doing the checks. If they're backing them up every 24 hours, and storing the data forever (this is not uncommon) they've got your records.

June 14, 2004, 12:14 PM
As best as I can tell, there doesn’t seem to be any legal way for the police to have that information.
BTW, Idaho doesnt require FOID cards or anything else to buy a gun other than what the fed require. That's not entirely accurate.

Idaho didn’t like the Brady law, thinking that it wasn’t good enough, so they came up with their own, Title 19, Chapter 54 Records Checks for Transfer of Handguns. Also, the Brady law requires that state police be notified of multiple handgun sales (2 or more to the same person in a five day period.)

However, all these laws provide a provision that the information collected must be destroyed if the transfer is valid. As far as I can tell, the only association that exist between you and your gun lies in the yellow sheet in the dealer’s records...and state police have no power to generally collect that information.

If I were your brother, I’d start investigating this to see if the state police have violated the confidentiality provisions of these laws. He could be entitled to a civil rights violation settlement, or at the very least have any records, that are being kept by the police, destroyed.

Standing Wolf
June 14, 2004, 04:59 PM
Government never willingly gives up information about its subjects: without us, it wouldn't have any money, nor anyone to wield power over.

June 14, 2004, 05:03 PM
My gun vendor has had police "ask" for information several times in the past. Its very common for vendors to provide the information.

June 14, 2004, 07:29 PM
Holy cow - I bet he got the heebies, having been there shortly before the little girl was killed! That's just creepy; hope he's fine.

I'm with Graystar and telewinz on this one. Graystar's statutory history is accurate (former ID resident? you wrote with the authority of someone familiar with the history, or at least someone who did their homework and read the act before posting - kudos to you:cool: ) in that there shouldn't be any record at the state level. At least, if the agency followed the law :rolleyes: there wouldn't be.

Did he get the guns locally? As you are probably aware, most gun shops here are LEO friendly, if not cozy, and probably shared their own records with the investigators. Sadly, there is no legally recognized "privacy" right or privilege between gun dealers and purchasers, so they might have shared the info.

Wouldn't it be interesting if he had acquired them only by private party purchase?!?

I'm betting investigators contacted his employer (unless he is self employed) and upon confirming he had been to the victim's family's house asked if he owned any guns they knew of, 9mm or .380 or 38 super, and/or immediately contacted all major gun shops in the Treasure Valley and asked his name. You know, though, I don't recall reading the murder weapon's caliber in the papers - they all reported "large caliber weapon," so I assumed larger than 9mm. Do you know if they found casings at the scene? All this may have a bearing on whether investigators have narrowed down the list, or were just fishing around for gun info on anyone who had been to the house in the last day/week/month.

You don't have to share, but I'd be curious about the details the posts have raised. Best wishes to your brother; even though he had the righteous knowledge of being innocent, I bet he was nonetheless nervous and scared about proving his innocence to the investigators at the time.


June 14, 2004, 07:40 PM
The government does not keep a database culled from 4473s, despite all the speculation on the gun boards.

June 14, 2004, 07:43 PM
former ID resident? Yeah, I lived in Boise for a couple years and read up on lots of Idaho law and court decisions. Like you say, the gun shops are LEO friendly...but Idaho is also big on freedom and rights. I think it would seriously hurt an FFL's business if it got out that he was giving the cops info on gun purchases. I sure would like to know how the cops got that info.

June 14, 2004, 07:46 PM

This was the case of the Gal killed in Mt Home last week. I am not certian, but I believe the .380 came from the old IOS before they closed and I have no clue about the 9. Is employer is how he got cleared, the service tickets he had signed by customers shows that he was miles away when it happened. As for his the gun, his work has no clue, he has guns but hasn't shot in 3 years or so, he just has no intrest in it.

He was rattled about being drug out of bed, somthign about being puckered up so tight you couldn't get a grain of rice to fit.

He did get a call from the uncle though aplogizing for implicating him, that was wierd.

June 14, 2004, 07:58 PM
I sure would like to know how the cops got that info. Same way they got a lot of other info. They ask nicely for help, and sometimes people help sometimes people don't.

June 15, 2004, 11:38 AM
And your remark about the "government" not keeping a "data-base" from 4473s is predicated on what exactly? Are you employed by the government to acertain that this is not happening? Remember that little problem of reno and the NCIS checks that were not supposed to be kept but were?

I'll agree that the cops do go around asking dealers for assistance and that some dealers do help them, but that has zero bearing on your original post.

June 15, 2004, 05:46 PM
() If the shop goes out of business before 25 years is up then 4473 goes to BATFE files for eternity....
...and Clinton put many FFL's out of business on purpose by raising the fees dramatically. :mad: :mad: :mad:


June 16, 2004, 09:50 PM
The way I understand is that an ffl does an ncis check..he may later get an inspection by his ffl number..the forms are copied and later are put into a database.the data copied later is not erased but the original nc check goes from manufacturer to distributer to ffl holder to buyer.I may be wrong in my understanding but sure looks like registration to me.

June 16, 2004, 10:16 PM
And your remark about the "government" not keeping a "data-base" from 4473s is predicated on what exactly? Federal law - exactly.

18USC926(a) since were being exact:
"No such rule or regulation prescribed after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners' Protection Act may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions be established. Nothing in this section expands or restricts the Secretary's authority to inquire into the disposition of any firearm in the course of a criminal investigation."

The last sentence of the quote from 18USC926 is what gives the government the right to ask FFLs and firearms manufacturers for help in tracing a gun involved in crime.

carp killer
June 16, 2004, 11:44 PM
Law changed - keep 4473 for 25 years. If the shop goes out of business before 25 years is up then 4473 goes to BATFE files for eternity....

What if the 4473 get eaten by mice or destroyed in a catastophic water pipe break?:evil:

June 17, 2004, 11:13 AM
Sorry, but that dog doesn't hunt. Too many stories around regarding federal agencies which ignore laws they don't like. I repeat my original asertion regarding the reno justice departmnt keeping of NICS check info long after the 24 hours deadline for destroying it. And there have been reported instances of the batfe agents copying 4473s during annual dealer inspections. I'll agree the law says they aren't supposed to, I'll also go on record as saying that I don't believe certain agencies pay a lot of attention to laws they don't like... :banghead: :banghead:

June 17, 2004, 12:08 PM
DMF, you are in la-la land if you think the reference you cite makes any difference.

The govt was supposed to destroy all records of NICS checks too, but we later found out they didnt do it.

June 17, 2004, 06:51 PM
Tangential Epilogue:

They got the guy. He left Idaho for Utah, shot a couple of folks in Utah in robberies, and was killed in a shootout when he ran for Nevada.

He may be responsible for the kidnapping of an Oregon State U coed and another killing in OR or WA as well.

I don't have a link for anyone interested; perhaps you could search the Idaho Statesman or Salt Lake Tribune.

Sad all around.:(

If you enjoyed reading about "How long are records kept?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!