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Options to recover firearm from police

Discussion in 'Legal' started by EHL, Aug 21, 2020.

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  1. EHL

    EHL Member

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    Hello,
    I have a friend who forgot his gun in a car rental. The car rental place called the police and surrendered the gun to them. My friend didnt have the serial number recorded. (I know, stupid.) He legally had the gun transferred to him via FFL several years ago. He tried reaching out to this FFL to see about getting a copy of the original transfer paperwork that would show the serial number. However, the FFL has moved out of the home he was doing business in and has changed his phone number. The police say they will destroy the firearm without him showing he has proof it is his.

    This is a really sad situation with many things to be learned by my friend. I thought I'd ask if anybody had any ideas that he might pursue in order to reclaim his property?

    Btw, this happened in Ft. Worth TX.

    Thank you for anybody who has any advise.
     
  2. Mn Fats

    Mn Fats Member

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    Without some proof of ownership, the firearm cannot be returned. The original ffl is of no help in this scenario. It's asking for a gun that is now in police possession with zero proof it's his.
     
  3. Twiki357

    Twiki357 Member

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    If he bought it from an FFL, does he still have the sales receipt or a credit card receipt?
     
  4. EHL

    EHL Member

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    He only did the transfer at an ffl. (A guy running his business out of his home) it was an online sale. However, my friend kept very poor records, if any, and the police cant verify that it belongs to him. The FFL is out of business/moved and left no contact information. Where does the paperwork for transfers go to in the event that these guys retire or get out of the business?
     
  5. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Administrator Staff Member

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    It's possible the FFL turned the 4473 over to the BATF, but I don't think they're going to look through their records as a favor to your friend.

    Does he have any pictures of the gun in his possession--perhaps something he posted online?

    If he's had work done on it, perhaps the gunsmith has records.

    If he kept the original box, it probably has a serial number on it.

    Did he register the gun with the manufacturer for warranty purposes?
     
    Odd Job, LocoGringo and Spats McGee like this.
  6. EHL

    EHL Member

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    John,
    Those are great questions. I'll ask my friend if he still has the box and paperwork. I doubt he registered it though.

    He does indeed have pictures of the gun that he showed the police, but they wont accept those as proof. They want the serial number.

    I did find an updated address and phone number to the FFL. Looks like he is still in business. (Blazzin Firearms in Ft Worth) I will forward to my friend in the hope that he can get a copy of the 4473.

    As for me, I'm feeling justified keeping the meticulous records that I personally keep on all my firearms including dates, prices, what store or person I purchased it from and the serial number. (Keep them on a file in my computer and in hard copy in a three ring binder)
     
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  7. Spats McGee

    Spats McGee Moderator Staff Member

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    Your friend could also ask the police if they'll accept an affidavit of ownership, which would include the name of the hotel and the date he left it behind. At least then they'd have something sworn under penalty of perjury to put on file.
     
    EHL and DoubleMag like this.
  8. DoubleMag

    DoubleMag Member

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    So, it's a generic gun i.e. black automatic pistol? Or perhaps something a little less in circulation, such as a revolver. Does he remember any unique marks on the gun.

    Does he have any cartridge cases he fired though the gun. Then he would have pictures, and, cases (which can me matched) cases , and, an otherwise very strange story how all three items lined up. That being, I misplaced that EXACT firearm that is now in police possession, I have pictures, and cartridges fired from that firearm.
     
  9. DukeConnor

    DukeConnor Member

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    I have a few guns i inherited. one is a colt detective special. i thought about carrying it a few times but i have no paperwork.
    I was always afraid of this scenario.
     
  10. Fyrstyk

    Fyrstyk Member

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    Another reason to put your name on the inside of the grips or on the butt of a rifle under the butt plate.
     
    EHL likes this.
  11. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    Depending on the location some LE agencies will release the gun without a SN. Having the records from the car rental place should be enough proof, but not in all cases. I don't think having your name written inside would make much difference. It is however important to record SN's of all guns you own. My LE friends tell me that at least locally over 60% of gun owners can't provide a SN of their guns when they report them stolen. If you do have a SN you have a fair chance of getting it back at some point.

    Having receipts sure wouldn't hurt, but from what I can tell just having a document with the SN recorded is most important.
     
  12. JJFitch

    JJFitch Member

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    The gun will remain in "evidence" for a period of time depending on their policies. If their policy allowed minimal provenance it would have been returned already. There is a liability issue here.
    The gun may or may not be returned with or without an affidavit depending on their policies.
    Contacting an attorney may help but not for an "ordinary" firearm because of the cost to value ratio!
    The FFL may or may not do a search for your recorded 4473 unless he saves them electronically.
    The fact he didn't do his due diligence, "Play stupid games win stupid prizes!"
    We all know that anyone with a few firearms should record the information for every firearm in their possession including photos! Etching a driver's license on firearms may help. I've seen a few that were followed up on but I don't know if they were returned without more evidence of ownership. After all the gun could have changed hands!

    In law enforcement firearms found or turned in or held for evidence carry a huge liability. If the firearm is returned and then used in a crime the department becomes a target for every manner of law suit!

    Law enforcement will run serial numbers of found items in the national data base in a effort to return property based on their policies. In large departments it could take months/years!

    In some states people are encouraged to file a form with recorded firearm information for the purpose of reuniting guns with owners. Controversial I'm sure!

    Some departments held auctions to sell firearms out of their inventory and found property. I'm sure due to politics those days are long gone. The department I retired from sent firearms to be destroyed to a third party for destruction. Two deputies were assigned to sign off disposition much like evidence disposition!

    I was on the department shooting team and could "sigh out" firearms but not for purchase. Purchase by LEO's ended about 30 years ago!

    Smiles,
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2020
  13. Texas10mm

    Texas10mm member

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    Record the serial number and you should be covered.
     
    alsaqr likes this.
  14. alsaqr

    alsaqr Member

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    Keeping track of firearms is easy:

    1. Keep the purchase receipt in a file.

    2. Establish a database with firearms description, serial numbers, accessories, date purchased and disposition.
     
  15. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

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    As most have noted “here’s what to do so that you never are in this situation...” with little relief for the gun owner (who may be learning a tough lesson).

    Here’s hoping the FFL can be located and be able to provide the needed documentation...
     
    alsaqr likes this.
  16. dogtown tom

    dogtown tom Member

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    He should find an attorney.


    Horsehockey. No federal or Texas law requires someone to provide "proof or ownership" to retreive lost ot stolen property.

    That LE agency may have a policy requiring such, but its not state law. Imagine if it was a necklace, watch or boat motor.....a simple description would suffice.
     
    Insignificant bill and DoubleMag like this.
  17. gunlaw

    gunlaw Member

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    The LEO is being difficult. Hire an attorney and file an action fo replevin and conversion. No reason for the police to keep what doesn’t belong to them.
     
    DoubleMag likes this.
  18. Hooda Thunkit

    Hooda Thunkit Member

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    I had a revolver stolen from me some years ago. It was in possession of a felon during commission of a crime.

    When the trial was over, I walked in to the Sheriff's office, with the original sales receipt, the original box, and an affidavit of ownership, along with the police report of the revolver being reported as stolen. I asked for the return of my property.
    The Undersheriff told me that there was no way I was going to get that firearm back.

    I then went upstairs to the District Attorneys office and spoke to the DA; showed all my papers, plus reported what the Undersheriff told me.

    The DA made a phone call, I walked back down the stairs to the same Sheriff's office I had just left, and the Undersheriff handed me my revolver. The Undersheriff was not happy.

    Perhaps the OP can talk to someone else ?
     
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  19. DukeConnor

    DukeConnor Member

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    The problem is an attorney may cost more than the gun is worth.
     
  20. JTHunter

    JTHunter Member

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    EHL - if your friend has a computer with word processing program and a digital camera (or a very good cellphone), take pictures of BOTH sides of every firearm, put the pictures into the document, and type some history under each pair of pictures. Here's an example from my pages -
     
    EHL likes this.
  21. birdshot8's

    birdshot8's Member

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    In Texas, the correct way to have seized property returned is request a seizure hearing in the Justice of the Peace court that's has jurisdiction over the area where the seized property is being held. A hearing will be scheduled and you show up and tell the judge why you believed seized property should be returned. No lawyer required, they usually just get in the way in JP court.
     
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  22. George P

    George P member

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    Another reason to take a photo of the gun, the serial number and store it in a Cloud as well as a written copy somewhere else, like a spreadsheet.
     
  23. gunlaw

    gunlaw Member

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    Not aware of this proceeding in Texas. That’s why I stay in Missouri. Thanks for the info.
     
  24. Rubone

    Rubone Member

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    I always keep an updated list of all my stuff with serial #s, descriptions including accessories, YOM, etc. Hard copy as well as hard drive.
     
    EHL likes this.
  25. EHL

    EHL Member

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    I appreciate the feedback so far. I will certainly share some of the insights offered by a few of you, so he doesnt lose his gun. And no, thankfully it isnt all that expensive, so hiring a lawyer would not be logical. But it does have sentimental value to him as it was his first firearm he ever purchased. (Keltec p11)

    I am grateful that I have kept much better records than my friend has. I often wondered if the extra time spent keeping it updated was worth it, or just an obsession. Now I know for sure, it is worth it.
     
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