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Who keeps record of serial numbers?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Orion8472, May 15, 2012.

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  1. Orion8472

    Orion8472 Member

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    If you purchased a gun at a LGS, I know that they have a record of the serial number and who has it. Does the ATF?

    So, if a gun is used in a crime, how do they know where it was purchased IF they only okay the person [form 4473]?
     
  2. 1948CJ2A

    1948CJ2A Member

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    I asked this question to Cabelas (Allen, TX) when purchasing a rifle a few weeks ago. I was told they are required by law to keep the paperwork you fill out (ATF/Treasury Form) on file for 20 years. They do not send the paperwork anywhere unless the ATF or other law enforcement requests something specifically (ie: they're looking for a gun used in a crime).

    I'm sure the FFL holders can give you more detailed info but that's what I was told.
     
  3. Orion8472

    Orion8472 Member

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    I am under that same assumption. So my question is, how do those solving a crime know who a gun belongs to?

    The reason why I ask is, . . . if I filled out the 4473 form, but sold the gun [later] privately, and it was used in a crime, how do they tie it back to me . . . what with the thousands of FFLs out there?

    *Disclaimer - I wouldn't sell to someone if I knew them to be a criminal and would prefer to sell to someone with a CCW, . . . but if THEY sold it to another, I wouldn't have control over that.
     
  4. mgkdrgn

    mgkdrgn Member

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    Answer is ... they don't mostly.

    All of that "gun is registered to a Tom Jones" stuff you see on TV is so much BS.

    And yes ... I am an FFL.
     
  5. waterhouse

    waterhouse Member

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    Glock makes a gun with serial number 1234. The ship it to a distributor, let's use Jerry's for an example, in the U.S. Glock logs 1234 out and Jerry's logs it in.

    A dealer, let's call it Jim's Guns, orders a Glock from Jerry's. Jerry's ships Glock 1234, logs it out, and Jim's Guns logs it in.

    You walk into Jim's and buy the gun, fill out the 4473, and Jim logs the gun out to you.

    When the gun is found at a crime scene, they call Glock, who checks their records and then says "We sent it to Jerry's on this date." Jerry's says they sold it to Jim's.

    Jim get a phone call from the ATF National Tracing Center, and Jim finds your 4473 in the file cabinet and reads off all of the info, or faxes copies of the 4473 in.

    Now they have traced it from the manufacturer to you. It takes some phone calls and time, and there is no national database which contains your name and the gun serial number (or make or model or caliber for that matter), but it can be traced back to you.
     
  6. ny32182

    ny32182 Member

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    Based on what 1948 said, which I believe is correct, a recovered gun at a crime scene, etc, could be traced to the original point of sale based on the serial number:

    Make->factory of orgin->distributor->FFL-> original 4473. After that, the paper trail is gone unless you are in a state with extra registration requirements. And even then, they would only be able to track it to its most recent law-abiding owner.

    It isn't crime-solving information. It might be useful in putting the investigation closer to someone who committed a crime; giving them someone to talk to (original buyer says he sold it to Joe Blow, etc... police will want to take a look at Joe Blow) it is not actual evidence related to any specific crime.
     
  7. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Member

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    It could be tracked, and here is the gist, they call the factory, factory says this range was shipped to this distributor.

    The distributor says we shipped that gun to X FFL (and this is after having to search for a while for the record)

    they go to the FFL, and the FFL says the 4473's for that time frame are in this file box have at it boys, and then they have to dig through a few thousand records.... BY HAND to find the FIRST legal owner, then they track that guy down and he says he gave it to his BIL, they track the BIL down and he says he sold it to his buddy, they track the buddy down.....

    Oh, and there is NO computerized central database, that is SPECIFICALLY prohibited by law. If they want the database, they have to repeal the 1984 MG ban...
     
  8. Centurian22

    Centurian22 Member

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    If making a private to private sale of a gun, is it advisable to draw up, have signed and keep a copy of a 'bill of sale' such as:
    On this date, I joe blow, sold the colt such and such with serial number 12345 to, John black. Both parties sign and date.
    ???
     
  9. 1948CJ2A

    1948CJ2A Member

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    Not to split hairs, but the legislation I think you are referring to was the FOPA (Firearms Owners Protection Act) that was signed into law May 19th 1986. It amended various elements of the preceding GCA (Gun Control Act) of 1968. The prohibition of registry (database) was part of it. Here's the section and language:

    ( Federal Law 18 U.S.C. 926 (2) (a)) being:

    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 disposition 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.

    Of course one thing to bear in mind is that all legislation is subject to interpretation by a judge or judges in a court of law. But this seems pretty straightforward.
     
  10. 1948CJ2A

    1948CJ2A Member

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    You can if you want but there's no law that I'm aware of that says it is required. It could end up dragging you into something you don't really want to be in the middle of... just my 2 cents.
     
  11. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

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    Yes, make a BOS, just big enough to cover your butt, put it in a safe place.

    I think the biggest offender is Law & Order. For 20 some odd years they showed murder cases that were solved because they had registered guns. Real life was much different.
     
  12. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

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    No, there's no legal requirement to do so, but you aren't required to sell a gun to someone without it either. I like my guns clean too, but I have signed BOSs for friends whi like to keep a file of butt-covers, I don't have a problem with that.
     
  13. CoRoMo

    CoRoMo Member

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    Depends on who you ask. Some say it is a must, others see no point in it.

    If you bought or sold a gun FTF; that gun is someday used in a crime, recovered and traced to you; you would have to have been in the area with no alibi and somehow linked to the act with a suspicion that you committed the crime before you should worry about being convicted for a murder that you didn't commit.

    Well before the cops cuff you on that one, you'd be giving them the name, number, address, description, whatever of the guy that bought it from you, whether you recorded it in writing or not.
     
  14. 1948CJ2A

    1948CJ2A Member

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    I'm more of a collector and less trader so I don't sell firearms nearly as often as I purchase them. In fact the only one's I have sold were guns I bought face-to-face prior so I knew I wouldn't be "looked at". I never have recorded a bill of sale as a seller nor filled one out as a buyer. Why should I give my personal information to a potentially total stranger (who is not a dealer in this hypothetical)? I don't mind temporarily showing my DL or CHL to someone but I don't want them recording any numbers or address information. I would potentially cancel a purchase if a non-FFL seller asked me to comply with his/her own BOS rules.

    I reckon I'm a private guy living in an identity theft era.
     
  15. walker944

    walker944 Member

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    The best chance that cops have in tracking the serial number is to the original purchaser. If a gun is found at a crime scene, then the cops can contact the manufacturer, whom can then tell them which FFL it was shipped to. At that point, depending on the amount of automation by the FFL, it might turn into a fairly slow searching process....depending on how long ago the FFL sold it. After the original purchaser acquires the gun, anything can happen, from a paper trail prospective.
     
  16. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    I've bought and sold numerous guns in FTF transactions and rarely bothered with a receipt. Occasionally private sellers at a gunshow give one, but that is about it.

    As others said, If a gun is found at a crime LE calls the manufacturer. They follow the paper trail from the factory to distributer to the FFL to the original buyer. If they contact the original buyer and he no longer owns the gun then it could be a dead end for LE. If the original buyer sold or traded to a FFL then the paper trail starts over.

    LE very often run into dead ends and can never prove who the gun belongs to. This is the biggest argument that gun control advocates make for registration and requiring a paper trail no matter who the gun is sold to. On the surface it sounds good and can have good points for gun owners. If you have a gun that you purchased FTF with no paper trail that is stolen and then recovered you may never get it back since there is no way for you to prove you actually owned the gun.

    There is too great of a possibility for abuse in the future and I'll take my chances with no requirement for registration.
     
  17. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

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    I followed all the threads here, most were reasonable, none were off the mark.... with one exception. If you report a firearm stolen -you're the presumptive owner when it's recovered (if ever). Yes, a recovering agency can try to jerk you around for "proof of ownership" but that sort of stuff will fade away when you obtain a court order to retrieve your property (if any agency is dumb enough to force you to do that...). Firearms are high liability items for any officials that handle them so you frequently find more than a bit of bureaucratic B.S. involved.

    Once again, in my experience (22 year cop and for three years in charge of my agency's Property Unit) the original reporter on a stolen gun case is presumed to be the owner unless there's information in the report to the contrary...

    By the way the closest thing I know of to a national gun registry does exist - for guns that have been reported stolen.... A stolen message stays there long term until someone recovers it. At that point the recovering agency is supposed to notify the original reporting agency and they're supposed to notify the person that made the initial report. Where things go south is when something is recovered years later and the original complainant can't be located... but that's another problem entirely.
     
  18. larryh1108

    larryh1108 Member

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  19. Warp

    Warp Member

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    I'll add that I have sold multiple firearms, including multiple handguns, face to face. I have never recorded any information about the buyer and at this time I have absolutely no clue whatsoever who they are.

    I've purchased that way as well.
     
  20. 1948CJ2A

    1948CJ2A Member

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    Sorry Larry I should have been clearer. I meant there are no federal laws that I am aware of requiring receipts or other info on face-to-face transactions (excluding class 3 firearms).
     
  21. marv

    marv Member

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    Some of my guns don't have a serial. Millions of guns made before 1960 something had no serial.
     
  22. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    This depends a lot on where you live. I'd suspect that in most places you'd have little trouble, but in others you can probably kiss your gun good bye.

    I said:

    I've known of a couple of incidents where recovering the gun either did not happen, or was difficult because there was no receipt from a FTF sale. One person was able to get his gun back only because he had previously returned it to Remington for repair work and the LE agency accepted Remingtons documentation that he was the owner. I'm sure you could hire a lawyer and get your gun back after a time, but it would probably cost more than the gun cost you. Some anti-gun LE agencies know this and make it as difficult for you as possible.

    In order to protect myself I have friends in LE run the SN's of guns I've purchased just in case I get one that has been reported stolen. I also take digital photos with a date stamp and keep records of my guns with descriptions and SN's on file. So far I've had no issues, but if something happens I do have some documentation
     
  23. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    Yep I do. Too many items yet alone their serial numbers to remember in case of fire or theft for me.:) BTW kept in three separate secure locations.
     
  24. alsaqr

    alsaqr Member

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    The serial number and description of every gun i've owned in the past 40 years is in a database. The name of the person the gun was sold/traded to is there.
     
  25. wolfe

    wolfe Member

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    How many people do you know that actually abide by those private to private transactions in Illinois?
     
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