Last week, I reported on a Massachusetts gun collector whose collection got collected by thieves. This despite the fact that Mr. Sokolowski had a gun vault that the police described as “extremely secure.” As Mr. Sokolowski was not held at gunpoint during the robbery, either the thieves were extremely sophisticated or it was an inside job. My money’s on the latter. Die-hard gun collectors are notorious for purchasing weapons outside established channels (e.g., gun stores and auction houses). Gun shows! Classified ads! Forums! Friend of a friend of a friend! That’s how you find a “real” bargain! Go to the source. Yes, well . . .

the further you get from the retail mainstream, the more dangerous the people you meet. I’m not saying that bricks and mortar gun dealers are beyond arranging a little raiding party. Just that they’re less likely to do so. To make the point that private sales with strangers are inherently risky, here’s an extreme example from chicagotribune.com:

Prosecutors said Escobar had agreed to sell a gun to Cuevas-Guevera, who was sitting in the back seat of Escobar’s car with one of his friends. As Cuevas-Guevera examined the weapon it accidently went off, wounding Escobar’s friend, according to court documents.

When that first non-fatal shooting happened, Escobar, who was in the driver’s seat, allegedly reached back and grabbed the gun. Cuevas-Guevara, of the 4600 block of South Sacramento Avenue in Chicago, jumped out of the car and took off running, court documents say.

Escobar allegedly chased Cuevas-Guevara and shot him four times. He then hid the gun in a garbage bin in an alley in the 2600 block of West Montgomery Avenue, according to court documents. Escobar then drove to a nearby hospital, where he dropped off his wounded passenger and fled, court documents say.

When people complain about gun store prices, I shake my head. If a gun dealer has been in biz a while, if they’ve got rent, salaries and a family to feed; they have a reputation to protect. And that reputation protects you. In other words, a seller’s premium can save your life. This is not the place to skimp.

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27 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Keep Your Friends Close, Your Gun Purchases Closer

  1. As Cuevas-Guevera examined the weapon it accidently (sic) went off he pointed it at Escobar’s accomplice and pulled the trigger, wounding him, Escobar’s friend, according to court documents.

    Looks like the Tribune needs a new editor.

  2. I sold two firearms this summer. I could have easily found buyers (consumer owners) on my own and sold them for a higher price rather than selling to a retail gun dealer. It is legal in my state for private parties to sell/buy a firearm with the only paperwork requirement the exchange of identity and a signature, etc. However, a seller can ‘possibly’ be held liable if he sells the firearm to an irresponsible buyer who later uses it in a crime. Such a risk is not one that I was willing to take. I do not want the police knocking on my door at 2AM asking about my (sold) Glock that was found at a crime scene.

    • So far the only gun I’ve ever sold has gone to a trusted coworker, but I’d really like to see the background checking system to be available to me during a private sale. Not required; just available.

      • I agree that private access to background checking is a good idea. I believe that most (not all) active members of America’s gun community would be responsible in buying and selling. People have sometimes surprised me in life with their behavior. With the victim entitlement attitude in America and how an innocent person can sometimes be held liable for another’s bad behavior I’m hesitant to sell a gun to a friend who might sell it to an idiot or let it an idiot use it.

        • I am a member of a local gun forum in my city and often trade, sell, and buy guns there. I always look at the persons Conceled Carry Permit when we meet up but I don’t keep any records nor has anyone I have ever traded with and I have yet to hear of someone being held liable or any negative interaction out of thousands of gun trades/sales.
          From a legal stand point (in my state) once the sale is completed to an individual legal to own a gun than the seller cannot be held responsible.

  3. Your gun collection can be the biggest secret in the world and still get stolen. Don’t ever think it can’t happen to you. Make sure your guns are insured.

  4. Far as this story goes, looks like there are no clean hands.

    Seller, buyer, buyers friend.

    Who knows about the guy who was shot? The guy who was shot must have known he was in bad company.

    Not a good example, but I get the idea.

    • I do find it strange that to buy a gun at retail store a criminal background check is conducted yet private citizens can sell and buy a gun between themselves with no background check or other registration type requirements. For all the state and federal government claims about not keeping or compiling a registry of gun owners, I strongly suspect that a federal registry exists or maybe at the state levels . My state claims to delete the criminal background check computer system every 30 days so there is no database on gun owners. Yeah right. I support a criminal background check yet I’m against a registry that an elitist government can use someday to confiscate.

      • In PA the Commies (Pennsylvania Commonwealth Police) are legally mandated to destroy all data they take in when performing PICS checks. It is widely known that they DO NOT do so, and at least one court has decided that since they’re not maintaining a *complete* registry that it doesn’t violate the law.

        As far as I’m concerned, the LESS that the government knows about the firearm ownership habits of the citizenry, the SAFER we are.

        • The officer who recently investigated my stolen guns asked me to provide him with a list of make, model and serial number of each gun stolen. If it was convenient.

          If not, he’d just get the info from the county sheriff’s office.

          So there you go. They don’t even pretend that they don’t have a gun database.

      • It’s no different than how if you buy a handcrafted chair from a store you must pay sales tax but if you buy it off a friend who’s enjoys carpentry, you don’t have to pay sales tax.

      • … yet private citizens can sell and buy a gun between themselves with no background check or other registration type requirements. …

        Not true in Pennsylvania. All handgun transactions, even if I’m just giving the thing to you, must be done through a FFL.

        • Also not true in California. I had to transfer one of my guns to my son-in-law through my favorite gun store.

      • I support a criminal background check yet I’m against a registry

        You can’t have one without the other. That’s just the nature of fascism.

    • What a surprise! MikeB is in favor of the first step towards confiscation of privately-held firearms. Wonders never cease…

  5. Wow, another gun that “just went off.” Where do all those defective guns come from? Mine won’t shoot unless something happens to that curved thingy on the bottom. You know, that whaddayacallit? Anyway, I admit to being a bit suspicious about one of my pistols, but I’m keeping an eye on it just in case it decides to go off on its own. And ha ha ha, I keep it loaded with snap caps just to fool it.

    Hey, do you think the gun will know? I understand that they’re pretty smart that way.

    • And isn’t amazing how the gun managed to point itself at the accomplice, I mean ‘friend’? Those wacky sentient guns.

  6. Been to that store, it is a little bit above retail, nothing great. The best place to go is Mission Essentials, they got everything and are at MSRP.

  7. I realize that gun shops have to keep the lights on, but when their trade-in price is absurdly low (to the point of being insulting) it’s no great shock that private sales are burgeoning. There are also some good buys to be had in the private sector.
    Just stay within the boundaries provided by the laws and tack on any other intuitive measures you deem appropriate. Put simply, if they don’t feel right to you in spite of the proper documentation then don’t sell or buy. Works for me and not a split seconds sleep lost.

  8. I have traded off/sold all firearms that I purchased from a FFL. All done with CHL info exchange and bill of sale. If the other guy in the trade/sale won’t comply with that I move on. ATF has already tried in a couple of places to access 4473’s, which they can legally do, but so far they haven’t pushed the issue. Once they get their hands on those it’s just a matter of going door to door.
    I believe it’s coming, particularly if Zero wins a 2nd term. What’s happenin’ to my country?

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