Fox28 News reports that the Chatham County Georgia Police Department is asking residents to provide the serial numbers of their firearms in order to help police find them if they are stolen. In a statement by Capt. Daniel Flood…
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen a big increase in the number of guns that have been stolen from unlocked cars. From burglaries and that type of thing.” He added, “About a third of them don’t have serial numbers. [The gun owners] don’t record the serial numbers.”
The CCPD is asking county residents to provide the serial numbers of their guns to a third party database that the agency contracts with so that guns that are reported stolen to the police may later be ID’d and recovered.
The serial number website is called ReportIt.
Sounds like a good idea, right? Well, if you read the fine print on the bottom of the website, it clear says “ReportIt is not a law enforcement function and does not automatically search for property that may have been lost or stolen.”
My personal answer to their request is…
This is a third party company that is gathering the information. Another term for that is data mining and it’s very profitable. Numerous online companies sell information all the time.
In Florida for example, it’s against state law for any government agency to have a registration or record of any firearm that’s legally owned. But a third party provider would be free to provide that information to any government office if they choose to contract with and purchase that information. The law enforcement agency isn’t maintaining the list. All they do is provide a search query to the record holder. No violation of state law.
Furthermore, ReportIt says the data is secure. But what would happen if that information is hacked as it has been from so many other companies (think Yahoo, Target, Equifax, eBay, JP Morgan Chase…just to name a few)?
As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. A good way for both law enforcement and gun owners to resolve this is simple. Gun owners can (and should) keep their own personal records of their firearm serial numbers in a safe location on paper. That way, if a theft occurs, they can provide it to law enforcement officials. Other than that, keep that information to yourself.