Government Gun Records?

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The thread that was locked in the General Discussion area about the execution of the two New York police officers brought to the top of my mind a long lingering question about the background checks we must all submit to in order to purchase a firearm. If they do not keep these records how do they track the path of a firearm once it leaves the original retailers premises? In Colorado the information on the background form is supposedly destroyed in 24 hours, so how can they follow the trail of a gun? If it was stolen or sold between private parties they should have no records unless the original owner turned in the S/N to the police. If the anti's hope to use the paper trail against the Second Amendment they will first have to admit that there really is a paper trail despite all their protestations that there isn't.
 
1) The police have the gun in hand and they write down the serial number.
2) They call up the manufacturer and give them that serial number and the manufacturer tells them which distributor got that gun.
3) The police call that distributor and the distributor checks their records and finds out what dealer got that gun from them.
4) The police call that FFL, give them the info on the gun and the rough date it was shipped, and the dealer goes through their 4473 sheets until they find that gun, and so can give the police the name and address of the person who bought it.

Said another way:

If a gun is found at a crime scene the investigators can contact the manufacturer and give them the model and serial number. The manufacturer will look up that number and tell the investigators what distributor bought that gun. Then the investigators can contact that distributor and give them the make, model, and serial number. The distributor will look through his records and tell the investigators to what gun dealer he sold that gun. The investigators can then contact that dealer and give them date the gun was delivered to their shop and the model and serial number. The dealer will then look through his records from that year, find that 4473 form, and tell the investigators what person originally bought that gun, and their address at the time.

Then the investigators can try to locate that person at that address. If no luck there, they can track down folks in that state with that name and see if they can figure out where that person might have moved, and if they're still in the state. If they can't find that person, the trail goes cold.

If, by chance, they can locate the original purchaser, they can inquire if that person still owns that gun, and if not, if they know the name and address of the next purchaser. There's no (federal) law that the seller has to even know the person's name he's sold a gun to, so if he says, "nope, sorry," the trail goes cold. If the gun was stolen, the trail goes cold. If at any point in the whole chain of custody one person doesn't have the contact info of the next owner, the trail goes cold. If at any point an owner moved to another state, the trail almost certainly goes cold. Etc. etc.

You said:
In Colorado the information on the background form is supposedly destroyed in 24 hours, so how can they follow the trail of a gun?

The only thing destroyed is the record of the NICS check call.

The paper (or electronic) 4473 form is kept by the dealer for 20 years and then may be destroyed.
 
Every time a gun goes through an FFL, there is a piece of a paper trail. The FBI can't keep a record of the NICS background check, but the paper copies of the 4473 still exist. If a gun is passed between private sellers it would be (almost) impossible to trace, but if it gets sold to a pawn shop it would show up again.
 
I have the understanding that the manufacturer tells which distributor received the firearm after it left the factory. Then the distributor tells which ffl received it, and the ffl goes to the bound book/4473 to determine the original purchaser. From there it requires legwork to visit the purchaser and any further owners.
 
If a gun is passed between private sellers it would be (almost) impossible to trace, but if it gets sold to a pawn shop it would show up again.
If it gets sold to another FFL at some point, it does go back onto SOMEONE'S record (in the dealer's bound book and on the next 4473 when sold again.

However, there's nothing linking the various dealers' records. Unless owner No.1 can be found and can recall what dealer he sold it to, there's a break in the record.
 
I have 4473 carbon copies so old (dating back to 1968), you can no longer read them because the ink has faded out completely.

And I imagine a lot of old dealers do too!

rc
 
I think we are naive to think that the ATF doesn't have a database of all 4473 forms ever completed. They say they don't keep them longer than (insert time frame here), but why would they only be interested in knowing the first place it goes after manufacture?
 
If the 4473's are not on a digital record the number of FFL's who would have to be contacted to find a particular serial number would require several years and literally thousands of man hours, I find it hard to believe every FFL would have to comb his records every time law enforcement wants to run a serial number. That would sure blow the wind from the sails of those members here who seem to believe $25 is too much to charge for handling a transfer.
 
f the 4473's are not on a digital record the number of FFL's who would have to be contacted to find a particular serial number would require several years and literally thousands of man hours, I find it hard to believe every FFL would have to comb his records every time law enforcement wants to run a serial number.
What? Did you even read any of the responses in the thread? Do you not understand how log books work?
 
The number of FFL's you would need to contact to find a particular serial number is one. The manufacturer keeps records of what guns were sold to what retailers. Of course once its sold it can be resold to other retailers, but thats more of a hassle for law enforcement than it is for the FFLs.
 
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If the 4473's are not on a digital record the number of FFL's who would have to be contacted to find a particular serial number would require several years and literally thousands of man hours, I find it hard to believe every FFL would have to comb his records every time law enforcement wants to run a serial number. That would sure blow the wind from the sails of those members here who seem to believe $25 is too much to charge for handling a transfer.
That is the way it works, believe it or not. It is in fact, illegal for the BATF to create a database from 4473 data.

States are different. Some states such as New York and California maintain a registry of legally owned firearms in those states. In those states, "running a serial number" is a lot easier. And NY and CA are probably the settings for more crime dramas on TV and the movies that any other. This creates the impression that the police run serial numbers on firearms all the time with a single phone call. That isn't how it works in most places.
 
I wish someone would point out to me on a 4473 form where the make, model, and serial number are even recorded???
It isn't!

That info is on the dealers bill of sale record, and 'Bound Book'.

The government has no access to it at all, and no way to creat a database from info they are never sent or told on the phone during the instant background check.

The only way they can get it is if they walk in the store and look at it.

rc
 
I wish someone would point out to me on a 4473 form where the make, model, and serial number are even recorded???
Page 3, section D, boxes 26, 27, and 28.

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That would be correct, but the dealer logs it in his book by serial#. The manufacturer would know when he shipped it to the dealer. That would give him an approximate date when he logged it in to his book. They go from there. Am I missing something?
 
Statements made during the news conference referenced in my original post:
The gun was traced to a purchase from a Georgia pawn shop some 19 years ago.
NYPD is trying to track down that purchaser.

There was no mention in the news conference of the (Manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer) trail as indicated above or even if the pawn shop was the original retail FFL. As quickly as they identified that pawn shop, it may have been the initial FFL or the original purchaser was the one who sold it to that pawn shop. My point is that if the gun changed hands multiple times in the 19 years since that sale by the pawn shop, the trail will go cold. Even if there were subsequent resales by FFLs, if there is a break (By FTF sale or ?) they would have no way of identifying subsequent FFL transactions without a central data base searchable by make/serial number or unless every subsequent owner kept a record of who he sold it to.

That is why I made the comment: It will be interesting to see if they can track it all the way through 19 years of owners.
 
rcmodel said: I have 4473 carbon copies so old (dating back to 1968), you can no longer read them because the ink has faded out completely.

I mean no disrespect, but I am curious why you would have 4473s that far back if they are only required to be retained for 20 years. CYA?
 
Because I kept my copy's with my bill of sale records from when I bought guns from FFLs from the 1968 passage of the GCA on forward.

I have a loose-leif photo album I keep all my gun records in.

And I don't clean house very often and throw that stuff away if I still have the gun.

Yes, I suppose you could call it CYA, or OCD, or something like that?

But, Can you tell me how much you or a family member paid for a gun you still have you, or they bought in 1969?
Or whose name was on the bill of sale & 4473 then.

I can!

rc
 
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That is the way it works, believe it or not. It is in fact, illegal for the BATF to create a database from 4473 data.

If it's illegal for BATF to create a database from 4473 data, where are they storing the data that FFL holders must send them when they go out of business and/or no longer have a FFL? Once a FFL sends this info to BATF, do they do they still need a court order to get trace my firearms to me?

I often buy my firearms online because it's cheaper. I've have, on several occasions, brought two or more at a time to save on transfer fees (my FFL will transfer multiple guns for one fee of $20). FFL holders across the country are require to send BATF the 4472 data whenever a person purchases 2 more firearms within a week.

Each licensee shall prepare a report of multiple sales or other dispositions whenever the licensee sells or otherwise disposes of, at one time or during any five consecutive business days, two or more pistols, or revolvers, or any combination of pistols and revolvers totalling two or more, to an unlicensed person. The report shall be prepared on a form specified by the Attorney General and forwarded to the office specified thereon and to the department of State police or State law enforcement agency of the State or local law enforcement agency of the local jurisdiction in which the sale or other disposition took place, not later than the close of business on the day that the multiple sale or other disposition occurs.

Where is BATF storing this information? Where is the police department storing this information? Unknown to me at the time, every time I had more than pistol and/or revolver transferred to me through FFL, local law enforcement was (or at least should have been) informed of my purchase...

This is the form that FFL must send to local law enforcement as well as the ATF...

7. The report is to be submitted to:

a. Copy 1 - To ATF. Fax, email or mail to the ATF The National Tracing Center no later than the close of business on the day that the multiple sale or
other disposition occurs. Fax number is 1-877-283-0288. Email address is [email protected].

Mailing address:
U.S. Department of Justice
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
National Tracing Center
P.O. Box 0279
Kearneysville, WV 25430-0279
b. Copy 2 - To Chief Local Law Enforcement Official (CLEO). The CLEO is a local or State official designated to receive this form. If you do not
know your CLEO, contact your local ATF Office to find out. Provide Copy 2 to your CLEO.

Now, being that the FFL sent my information and what firearms I've purchased to local law enforcement, do they still need a court order to get trace my firearms to me?
 
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The important point is that the police or ATF can only search existing documents, and that pursuing the trail of custody for a firearm may run from FFL to existing owner on one hand, to a complete dead end on the other.

One face to face private sale breaks the chain. It's why private sales with no background check are the hot anti gun push. It forces everyone to legally get a NICS check. How is another matter, and it's sounding like either forcing the buyer and seller to work thru an FFL or the offices of some kind of LEO organization. The result is a paper trail of every owner - but only legal ones.

Illegal transfers aren't affected whatsoever, which is exactly the flaw in the scheme.

The antigunners would be deliriously happy if the firearm had to be transferred with title, and that title issued by the State. Just like a car.

You do not want anything to do with that. In MO a car in someone's possession without transfer of title is considered attempting to cheat the county out of it's property tax, with penalties assessed. And the counties are already using satellite photos as one tool to confirm property upgrades, along with Google Street view.

If they can tax you for owning chickens and goats, why not shotguns and rifles? It's personal property tax assessment based on who might impact the jurisdiction having authority, just like how some have to pony up fees for fire protection.

911: May I help you?
Caller: I HAVE ARMED INSURGENTS SHOOTING AT MY HOUSE. SEND COPS!
911: Yes, I see you live at 123 Tea Party Lane, sir, and we are dispatching help. But, sir, your local firearms possession tax is delinquent. May I help you process that payment while we wait?

Sir?

Sir?
 
The important point is that the police or ATF can only search existing documents, and that pursuing the trail of custody for a firearm may run from FFL to existing owner on one hand, to a complete dead end on the other.

One face to face private sale breaks the chain. It's why private sales with no background check are the hot anti gun push. It forces everyone to legally get a NICS check. How is another matter, and it's sounding like either forcing the buyer and seller to work thru an FFL or the offices of some kind of LEO organization. The result is a paper trail of every owner - but only legal ones.

And there still would be know way for them to know which FFL ran the background check longer than 72 hours later. Unless there is full registration.

AFAIC, all the guns I no longer own were sold at a gun show to some guy.
 
The important point is that the police or ATF can only search existing documents, and that pursuing the trail of custody for a firearm may run from FFL to existing owner on one hand, to a complete dead end on the other.

One face to face private sale breaks the chain. It's why private sales with no background check are the hot anti gun push. It forces everyone to legally get a NICS check. How is another matter, and it's sounding like either forcing the buyer and seller to work thru an FFL or the offices of some kind of LEO organization. The result is a paper trail of every owner - but only legal ones.

Illegal transfers aren't affected whatsoever, which is exactly the flaw in the scheme.

The antigunners would be deliriously happy if the firearm had to be transferred with title, and that title issued by the State. Just like a car.

You do not want anything to do with that. In MO a car in someone's possession without transfer of title is considered attempting to cheat the county out of it's property tax, with penalties assessed. And the counties are already using satellite photos as one tool to confirm property upgrades, along with Google Street view.

If they can tax you for owning chickens and goats, why not shotguns and rifles? It's personal property tax assessment based on who might impact the jurisdiction having authority, just like how some have to pony up fees for fire protection.

911: May I help you?
Caller: I HAVE ARMED INSURGENTS SHOOTING AT MY HOUSE. SEND COPS!
911: Yes, I see you live at 123 Tea Party Lane, sir, and we are dispatching help. But, sir, your local firearms possession tax is delinquent. May I help you process that payment while we wait?

Sir?

Sir?
The problem is not every one owns all privately purchases firearms. Most of the people I know brought all the firearms they own from LGS or online. The used firearms I and they own were purchased from LGS. A vast majority of gun owners do not collect and trade several dozen firearm like some members on this forum do.
 
Anyone who actually believes any enforcement agency ever truly destroys information must also believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny.
 
You do not want anything to do with that. In MO a car in someone's possession without transfer of title is considered attempting to cheat the county out of it's property tax, with penalties assessed. And the counties are already using satellite photos as one tool to confirm property upgrades, along with Google Street view.

If they can tax you for owning chickens and goats, why not shotguns and rifles? It's personal property tax assessment based on who might impact the jurisdiction having authority, just like how some have to pony up fees for fire protection.

Interesting assessment. :eek:

BC's and registration are totally two different things and I wish people would realize this.

A background check is proactive, preventing something before it happens. They may be effective to some degree but I think most sheriffs and police chiefs will tell you they aren't a real big deterrent to violent crime. Most anyone can circumvent a BC and get a gun. Some people without a record can pass a BC and then use it to commit a crime.

A registration is reactive, or used in an investigation of a crime already committed. It may get a criminal off the street but a crime has already been committed.

You can have one without the other.

Some states and local governments like registration and permits as it generates revenue and creates jobs (big gov't). BC's for them is business depending on how they set it up. Here we pay 9% to the state on any and every gun transferred by an FFL. We don't have private sales anymore so the state gets a cut on every transfer.

If anyone is waiting for the gov't to stand up and say BC's isn't a good thing for the average law abiding tax paying citizen you will have a very long wait. You might as well wait for them to say building permits are no longer needed and we are phasing those out and reducing our staff.

The AG crowd clamors for more BC's and registration and the gov't tries to accommodate them for the revenue it generates.

Most of this new legislation is hiding behind reducing violent crime when in fact it is revenue driven.

Heck, we even made cannabis legal so we could tax it like tobacco.

To prove my point I'll present this scenario. How popular do you think a state bill or initiative would be that created a state background check for anyone wishing to purchase or carry a handgun. The check would be ran one time by state LE agency with a set fee and a permit would be delivered like a DL. A renewal would be required every five years. When you purchased a handgun you produced your state permit. Dealer establishes a link to a state computer and you get a clearance. No charge because it took 2 minutes to check the status of a license. No waiting and no SN's recorded. Because there is no registration in 39 states now most states shouldn't have a problem with the no SN requirement.

That would be a pure inexpensive background check and would meet the NICS requirements. If the state wasn't after revenue and gun registration it would work. Unfortunately some want both but the true agenda is never exposed. It would eliminate the fee that an FFL charges for a required in depth background check. This NICS BC is becoming a business by itself and is totally unnecessary. It doesn't work anyway because it's a fed agency in charge of it.
 
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