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Thread: Checking the s/n of a gun

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    Regular Member buster81's Avatar
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    I've had the opportunity to consider purchasinga few guns from an acquaintance.I've passed on all of them thus far.He is the friend of a friend of a friend thatI cross paths with every few months or so.The story on all the guns I've looked at is that he is selling it for a friend, and he doesn't know where his friend got it. It sounds a little fishy to me. Can an individual call the state police and have them check the s/n to see if the gun is stolen?

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    You could call.. most likely they won't tell you over the phone, they will want you to come down.. that way if it is stolen, they can recover it and find out more about where and how you got it.
    Carry On.

    Ed

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    Regular Member buster81's Avatar
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    I guess I'll have to keep declining his offers. Something about this guy strikes me as odd and I'd prefer not to purchase a gun his "buddy" stole.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    buster81 wrote:
    I guess I'll have to keep declining his offers. Something about this guy strikes me as odd and I'd prefer not to purchase a gun his "buddy" stole.
    Go look at them and if you find one you like, write the SN down.
    If you know aa cop, ask him o check it. If you don't know one go to the local PD and ask them to check it. Most Cops are pretty good about it.



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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    And of course the next question that comes to my mind is "what happens when that friendly cop gets a 'hit' on the serial number?"

    Do you think your friendly cop is going to be satisfied with "oh, bummer, ok thanks for checking" as you walk away?

    Are you prepared to divulge the current holder of the gun? Is that person prepared to divulge where they got the gun? Are you going to be visited in the middle of the night by the friends or associates of the recently-arrested stolen arms dealer?

    Maybe I'm paranoid... how else do you think this would transpire?

    TFred


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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    TFred wrote:
    And of course the next question that comes to my mind is "what happens when that friendly cop gets a 'hit' on the serial number?"

    Do you think your friendly cop is going to be satisfied with "oh, bummer, ok thanks for checking" as you walk away?

    Are you prepared to divulge the current holder of the gun? Is that person prepared to divulge where they got the gun? Are you going to be visited in the middle of the night by the friends or associates of the recently-arrested stolen arms dealer?

    Maybe I'm paranoid... how else do you think this would transpire?

    TFred
    If we don't drop a dime on someone dealing in stolen arms, who will?

    To buster81 - If your suspicions are strong enough (can't ignore my gut feelings personally), have a talk with LE and let them set up a buy or whatever. Suggest you not discuss this with your friend that keeps referring you to his friend.

    Yata hey
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    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    TFred wrote:
    And of course the next question that comes to my mind is "what happens when that friendly cop gets a 'hit' on the serial number?"

    Do you think your friendly cop is going to be satisfied with "oh, bummer, ok thanks for checking" as you walk away?

    Are you prepared to divulge the current holder of the gun? Is that person prepared to divulge where they got the gun? Are you going to be visited in the middle of the night by the friends or associates of the recently-arrested stolen arms dealer?

    Maybe I'm paranoid... how else do you think this would transpire?

    TFred
    I'm not sure what your point is Fred.

    If it's stolen, you haven't bought it yet so your out of the picture. The friendly cop does what he does. Not my problem anymore. I've been doing it this way for years. Sometimes (Usually) if I think the deal is OK, I just buy it and write down his license number without him knowing.....then check the SN. If it turns up stolen, I can go have a private talk with him and get my money back.

    What's the cop going to do? You haven't bought so you didn't receive it. No crime has been committed and yes, you just walk away.. There might be a few threats but no charges. Yes....you just walk away!

    Are you saying to never check Sn's or are you saying never but F2F guns. Neither option is acceptable to me.

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    Regular Member gis's Avatar
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    When I was on the job, our SOP was to get ATF notified/involved if we suspected illegal/stolen gun trade. I don't know if that was required or if it was a CYA thing from departmental lawyers. I do know that ATF would occasionally do things in our jurisdiction, but of course we had no idea what they were doing.

    Personally, I would stay away from any transactions that you believe to be suspect. If you do open this can of worms, realize that you, a law abiding citizen having best intentions at heart, may become subject to some level of scrutiny. As a private Joe Citizen, I wouldn't care for it, especially in this political climate.

    One constructive suggestion that I would make if you really want one of those guns is to suggest to theseller to have the gun transfered to an FFL. Have the FFL do the leg work of checking the serial of the gun. If it clears, you pay the transfer fee and do the federal paperwork. If there is a problem, it stops at the seller and the FFL. Also, you will pretty much be able to tell from the guy's reaction when you mention the FFL transfer.

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    buster81 wrote:
    The story on all the guns I've looked at is that he is selling it for a friend, and he doesn't know where his friend got it. It sounds a little fishy to me.
    This is not just "a little fishy." If he is telling the truth, he is saying that he intends to make a straw purchase from 'his friend' to resell to you. Since these would be F2F transfers, no FFL/4473 involved, I don't think they would be of interest to the Feds. However, the intent to conceal something -- the identity of the true seller, the origin of the item, whatever -- would make me inclined to pass on the deal. Unless it was a gun I really wanted, and was really cheap!

    As far as using an FFL as an intermediary goes, there's another issue past the hassle factor if the gun turns up "hot." Just as "a right unexercised is a right lost," seems to me that using an FFL (and completing a 4473) for in-state F2F transfers effectively nullifies the ability to buy and sell one's legally owned property without Govt. monitoring. Probably the real reason they don't let individuals look up s/n's. Your call, of course.

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    peter nap wrote:
    Are you saying to never check Sn's or are you saying never but F2F guns. Neither option is acceptable to me.
    No, not saying either... I'm just trying to get inside the LEO's head. (A scary prospect, I know! )

    Since there is not really a public list of all serial numbers of guns that have been stolen or used in a crime, having knowledge of, and inquiring about a specific number that exists in a database raises questions. And of course that is fine, that's why we would be asking.

    Consider this far-fetched, but analogous scenario based on current events: Helpful Joe walks into police station and says Hey I know there are kidnappings all the time... tell me, are there any kids who have a missing front tooth, a birthmark on their upper left arm, two moles on their right foot, and speak with a little bit of a British accent?

    Why yes sir, the there is a missing kid who fits that description, but hey.... none of those details were released to the public, how do you know those things?

    Oh, a friend of a friend of mine asked me to babysit a couple days ago... I guess I will decline from now on. No biggie, thanks...

    Now I realize that analogy is over the top, but you can see my point. If you come in asking about the S/N of a stolen gun, how do you know what they are going to do? You have presented knowledge that "only the criminal could have". Are you saying that a zealous LEO is just going to let you walk out with no further action?

    I don't know these answers, I'm asking... but it doesn't make much sense that they would just let it drop. This would certainly be a situation where you could use a "friend on the inside", but even then I don't see how you would not end up turning in your "friend" who is offering to sell the stolen gun. Maybe that is what you intend to do from the start, I'm not saying that is all bad either. I guess my point is that by asking the question, you have already decided to turn in the "friend" if the gun turns out to be stolen, etc.

    TFred


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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Oh, and the "bring up using a FFL" is a great idea! Even if you don't plan to do it, their reaction to the prospect will tell you much.

    And fairly easy to bring into the conversation... you can pretend that you don't know FTF doesn't require it, just say "ok, great, my FFL is Joe Smith, can we meet there at his store to do the papers?"

    TFred


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    Regular Member MSC 45ACP's Avatar
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    TFred wrote:
    Oh, and the "bring up using a FFL" is a great idea! Even if you don't plan to do it, their reaction to the prospect will tell you much.

    And fairly easy to bring into the conversation... you can pretend that you don't know FTF doesn't require it, just say "ok, great, my FFL is Joe Smith, can we meet there at his store to do the papers?"

    TFred
    +1.

    I don't have any "friends" that would sell stolen weapons or even ask ME to sell a stolen weapon FOR them.

    I can't imagine having a "friend" like that. Seems to me a Friend wouldn't do that to a Friend, but that's just my take on it...

    The FFL angle is truly a good idea and a non-confrontational way to get it done if you have questions about the legality of it.

    Speaking of BATFE: I GOT MY BOX O' BOOKS FROM THEM YESTERDAY VIA UPS! I thought they would be interesting reading, but I've thumbed through them and decided i don't really have any use for them as I'm not an FFL and have no future plans to become one.

    First one that wants them, PM me, please. Free (They were free to me anyway). I won't ship them. I'll either meet someone locally or bring them to the range day in next month.

    Here's the list of books (& papers)
    1. ATF Info Brochure (looks like just a recruiting pamphlet)
    2. Firearms Curios and Relics List
    3. Federal Firearms Regulations Reference
    4. State Laws and Published Ordinances (book and CD-ROM)
    5. ATF Explosives Law and Regulations
    6. List of Explosive Materials (I've heard of a lot of them, but WOW... what a list!)

    First PM wins the whole "kit and kaboodle"

    Semper Paratus

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    However, like most of us, as I go through my daily life, I carry something a bit more compact, with a lot less power."
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    Regular Member bom1911's Avatar
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    This is a good question.I've bought and sold a few guns, and never really thought about how I would know if they were stolen or not.

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    Regular Member gis's Avatar
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    I suggested to use an FFL to do the leg work of checking the serial number with the local PD. Agreed, they do not routinely check every gun they buy, but they can call the local PD just like anyone else.

    Also, while there may be no single database of stolen guns (and I am no expert), there is something that is shared across jurisdictions, even state lines. A few years back a friend of mine, a detective in Michigan, got a call from a PD in Hawaii that they recovered a firearm that they tracked through some stolen gun database back to Michigan and to a B&E that my friend originally investigated several years earlier. I remember him askingthe chief to be sent to Hawaii to personally pick up the gun.

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    Regular Member buster81's Avatar
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    Just in case it wasn't clear, this guy is NOT my friend.I've only met three or four times so I have no reason to trust him in any way.I'll ask him about transferring the next gun he offers me through an FFL and see what he says.

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    All my handguns are from FTF sales...some w/ bill of sales, others with no paper trails. No way to "know" they're clean other than trusting the seller. That's why I only buy guns from forum members with a good solid post count and "reputation" on the site.

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    Regular Member paramedic70002's Avatar
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    IMHE Most LEOs are discouraged from running phantom numbers because, lets say that gun was used to murder a VIP in another state. The LEOs over there, as well as FBI, are HOT to find the shooter. Suddenly the number comes up courtesy of your LEO, Deputy Friendly. The dispatcher's computer starts blowing up with arrest bulletins, requests for a fax number to send over the warrants, and queries wanting updates within 5 minutes of who is in custody and where can the prisoner be located for interrogation, along with warnings that the prisoner should be considered armed and dangerous, is a fleeing felon, etc, etc. Not a fun time for the LEO and depending on what current rules are could get his whole department's access to NCIC cut off for a long while, since he wasn't in possession of the weapon.
    "Each worker carried his sword strapped to his side." Nehemiah 4:18

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    paramedic70002 wrote:
    IMHE Most LEOs are discouraged from running phantom numbers because, lets say that gun was used to murder a VIP in another state. The LEOs over there, as well as FBI, are HOT to find the shooter. Suddenly the number comes up courtesy of your LEO, Deputy Friendly. The dispatcher's computer starts blowing up with arrest bulletins, requests for a fax number to send over the warrants, and queries wanting updates within 5 minutes of who is in custody and where can the prisoner be located for interrogation, along with warnings that the prisoner should be considered armed and dangerous, is a fleeing felon, etc, etc. Not a fun time for the LEO and depending on what current rules are could get his whole department's access to NCIC cut off for a long while, since he wasn't in possession of the weapon.
    IMHO - this would only provide a link to a highly desirable contact. Not one to be ignored. It would seem to be a good thing, not a bad one, but what do I know.

    Yata hey
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training. Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    Grapeshot wrote:
    this would only provide a link to a highly desirable contact. Not one to be ignored.
    I agree.. the problem would be that it would be in the form of an arrest to all be sorted out later.
    Carry On.

    Ed

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    buster81 wrote:
    Just in case it wasn't clear, this guy is NOT my friend.I've only met three or four times so I have no reason to trust him in any way.I'll ask him about transferring the next gun he offers me through an FFL and see what he says.


    What kinds of guns is this chap offering? Good ones? At good prices?

    If you're passing up nice guns that you would like to have then that's a bummer.

    It is very much a good idea to check out a s/n of a gun (either before or after purchase) to protect yourself.

    So, figure out a way to get that done. There's no reason why you can't make it a condition of sale that the gun not be stolen. If you buy it and it turns up hot, you should get your money back. Any reasonable seller would agree to this.

    However, if what you're saying is that you suspect this guy of being shady and possibly selling illegal guns, then that's a different scenario. Stay away from him, in that case. And consider, if you have sufficient reason to believe that he is illegal, dropping a dime on him. He ain't doing law abiding gun owners, sellers and buyers any good.



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