Buying A Gun In A Private Sale? Is There a Way to Check If It’s Stolen?

high standard sentinel deluxe

Dan Z. for TTAG

By David Katz

You’re looking for a gun for everyday carry, a shotgun for hunting season, or perhaps you just want a nice used gun to add to your collection. You also want to find a really good deal and the gun market is tight right now. A private sale might be just the way to go.

Federal law doesn’t prohibit private sales between individuals who reside in the same state, and the vast majority of states do not require that a private sale be facilitated by a federally licensed gun dealer (“FFL”). However, the more you think about it, what would happen to you if you bought a gun that turned out to be lost or stolen? Even worse, what would happen if you purchased a firearm that had been used in a crime?

Unfortunately, these things can happen. Further, there is no practical way for you to ensure a gun you purchase from a stranger is not lost or stolen.

FBI Lost and Stolen Gun Database

When a firearm is lost or stolen, the owner should immediately report it to the police. In fact, if a gun is lost or stolen from an FFL, the law requires the FFL to report the missing firearm to the ATF. These reported firearms are entered into a database maintained by the FBI’s National Crime Information Center.

Unfortunately for purchasers in private sales, only law enforcement agencies are allowed to request a search of the lost and stolen gun database.

Private Databases

While there have been attempts at creating private searchable internet databases where individuals self-report their lost or stolen guns, these usually contain only a fraction of the number of actual stolen guns, and the information is not verifiable.

Some states are exploring or attempting to build a state database of lost or stolen firearms that is searchable by the public, online. For example, the Florida Crime Information Center maintains a website where an individual can search for many stolen or lost items, including cars, boats, personal property, and of course, firearms.

However, even this website warns:

“FDLE cannot represent that this information is current, active, or complete. You should verify that a stolen property report is active with your local law enforcement agency or with the reporting agency.”

Police Checks of Firearms

Having the local police check the federal database continues to be the most accurate way of ascertaining whether or not a used firearm is lost or stolen, but many police departments do not offer this service. And be forewarned: if the gun does come back as lost or stolen, the person who brought it to the police will not get it back. The true owner always has the right to have his or her stolen gun returned.

If you choose to purchase a firearm in a private sale, you should protect yourself. A bill of sale is the best way to accomplish this. If it turns out the firearm was stolen or previously used in a crime, you will need to demonstrate to the police when you came into possession of the firearm and from whom you made the purchase. You don’t want to be answering uncomfortable police questions without documentation to back you up.

On the flip side, if you are the one who happens to be the victim of gun theft, be sure to report it after speaking with an attorney. Because while it may take several years, you never know when a police department may be calling you to return your gun.


David Katz is an independent program attorney for US LawShield. 


  1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    i’ve often wondered if my compact 75 was hot. that deal went fast and squirrely.

    1. avatar AtomicSpud says:

      The Best way to buy a used gun from a private seller it to buy one from a seller that has an unexpired CCW. Myself, as a private person, I never buy or sell a gun to anyone without one, and I document the ccw info as a personal record and keep it for 7 years.

  2. avatar Cloudbuster says:

    I don’t want to know. I have no legal obligation to check. I have no legal obligation to keep records about who it was bought from. I’m far more concerned in modern times about alerting the federal government that I’m buying a gun.

    1. avatar Gotscha says:

      Keeping your own records of personal gun sales does not alert the government to what you have in your gun collection. It does, however, help deflect uncomfortable questions if a gun you sold ever winds up at a crime scene or if a seller who is ‘feeling the heat’ ever points their finger in your direction. You never want to be the last stop in a gun trace without paperwork to protect you.

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      That’s where I am, why would you care? If you check and it is stolen, you lose the gun. If you keep it 50 years and it’s stolen, then you can sell it to someone else who doesn’t care. I find enough trouble without going to look for it.

    3. avatar Miner49er says:

      18 USC §§842(h); 922(i), (j) & (u). Punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
      A. May not receive, possess, conceal, store, pledge or accept as security for a loan, barter, sell or
      ship or transport across a state line any stolen firearm, ammunition or explosive.
      B. May not steal or unlawfully take or carry away a firearm from the person or premises of a
      firearms licensee.

      1. avatar Ron says:

        Pretty sure you want to open all the prisons anyway?

        1. avatar Miner49er says:

          Ha ha, good one!

          Pretty sure you don’t know what you’re talking about…

      2. avatar Cloudbuster says:

        I’ll take my chances. Thanks for the legal advice. Where did you get your law degree?

        1. avatar Miner49er says:

          Thank you for the compliment, but I didn’t write the law.

          Usually, staff lawyers, in consultation with congressional members, draft legislation for committee approval before it is submitted to the full Congress.

          If you need more information I believe public broadcasting has some excellent early morning shows that explain the American governance system through a series of catchy tunes and colorful skits that you might find helpful in understanding your country‘s government.

      3. avatar Anymouse says:

        Check Dalton and other cases. You can’t be expected to be psychic in order to obey the law. If you didn’t know it was stolen, you have no guilt. If you were the one to steal the gun, you knew. If somebody on the street asks, *Hey, buddy. Want to buy a stolen gun?”, the undercover BATFE agent is trying to record you admitting knowledge of receipt of a stolen gun. If you want to cover your butt, ask the seller if it’s stolen and only proceed if he says, “No.”

        1. avatar Cloudbuster says:


        2. avatar Random says:

          Cops are allowed to lie to you.

        3. avatar Cloudbuster says:

          Cops are allowed to lie to you.

          Which is why you should keep your mouth shut and not answer questions without an attorney present.

          If you are speaking about the cop lying to you when you ask him if it is stolen, then you have displayed a good faith attempt to inquire about the legality and you are safe. If you are in a state that has no legal background check requirement for private sales, they cannot require you to do something you were not legally required to do. If they could, that would mean it was required.

        4. avatar Davis says:

          Anymouse wrote: “Check Dalton and other cases. You can’t be expected to be psychic in order to obey the law. If you didn’t know it was stolen, you have no guilt.”

          No objective guilt, but you can still be charged if a leftist prosecutor wants to jack you up.

          Relevant section under 18 USC 922:
          “It shall be unlawful for any person to transport or ship in interstate or foreign commerce, any stolen firearm or stolen ammunition, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the firearm or ammunition was stolen.”

          Unfortunately, not knowing a gun is stolen is only an “affirmative defense” under the law, something that your lawyer would have to argue in court to a jury. It does not prevent a prosecutor from bringing the charge if they don’t believe you. There is lots of case law on this.

          The statute in question also has several court annotations, so to the other poster who asked, yes many people have been charged under the statute for transporting stolen firearms across state lines. It would be a routine “add-on” charge in any federal criminal cases where they caught people transporting drugs, or any of dozens other federal crimes where they also confiscate guns from those being charged.

          Example scenario:
          You are traveling across state lines in your car with the gun on your person. You have a concealed carry license in your home state (which may or may not be recognized in all the states through which you travel.) You are not a felon, but don’t have a spotless record due to once being young and stupid. You get involved in some potentially criminal incident involving federal jurisdiction (on federal property, involving a federal employee, etc.) For example you carry the gun into a Post Office, an employee sees it under your vest and calls the cops – federal crime. They run your gun’s serial number through NCIC and it comes up stolen five years ago. You say, “I didn’t know it was stolen; I bought it off this guy named Bubba at a Walmart parking lot in Danville.” The leftist Democrat federal prosecutor goes after you for the main federal charge, but also doesn’t like guns. She checks your background, and decides she doesn’t like your conservative/libertarian politics, your background, and you personally. And she decides not to believe you about the gun. The additional federal charge of transporting a stolen gun across state lines will routinely be added on to pressure you into a plea deal.

          If you are in a state that allows private sales without going through the background check at a gun store (typically $10 or so, required in states such as Colorado) and you want to protect yourself, buy from a licensed gun dealer – new, used, consignment, whatever. That way you have the receipt, the gun store has a record, and you are covered. You take your chances buying from Bubba in the parking lot. Or at least make sure the person is either known to you in some way (friend of a friend, co-worker, private range member, etc.), or has a concealed carry license they will show you with ID, and the original box, papers, and receipt. You’ve got to write all the info on a bill of sale – name, address driver’s license, concealed carry license number, description of the gun, serial number, and you BOTH sign. Make copies and keep on in a safe or safe deposit box for as long as you own the gun (statute of limitations may not apply to the crime of stolen transport, as opposed to the original possible theft. )

        5. avatar Levi says:

          Same thing applies under state laws for possession of stolen property. It can happen if you are in any sort of incident where the gun’s serial number is run through NCIC (including a justified self defense shoot – yes they make take the gun until you are cleared by the D.A.) . If you don’t have a bill of sale with positive ID of the seller (driver’s license # or state ID #) or a receipt from a gun store, you can be charged and have to argue the affirmative defense. Saying you bought it from “some dude” won’t cut it with leftist prosecutors. In any case you will lose the gun and the money you paid for it, so why not avoid that by having a complete bill or sale or gun store receipt?

          By the way, you have to look at the driver’s license of the seller, make sure it is actually him or her, and confirm the driver’s license (and CC license number) is what is written on the bill of sale. Take a decent look at the license(s) to be sure they are not obvious fakes.

          The ONLY advantage to the required Firearm Owner’s ID Card (FOID) card in Illinois, is that if someone has a FOID, just like a concealed-carry license, they’ve also gone through the background check and you can legally sell to them with just a bill of sale – at least that was true several years ago when I did a private sale. But the FOID is a pain because you also need it to buy/possess ammo (not sure how this works with mail order). In contrast, in Colorado and some other states you now have to go through a background check at a gun store for every sale (including private sales), regardless of whether the buyer has a concealed carry license.

          The law now in Colorado and some other states is what the libs call “closing the gun show loophole.” Which is a stupid name, but what it means is that every gun sale has to have a background check through a FFL dealer for a minimal cost. Anything above about $10 would be restrictive and probably invite lawsuits from the Second Amendment Foundation and others. The problem is when the goverment computers get “backed up” somehown, so the sale is delayed. If you are in a liberal state, that could be just them trying to stop sales. With the sale of a new/used gun from an FFL, there is a time limit that the government has to meet or the sale goes through. Don’t know if that is the same with these state laws. And the buyer might just walk due to the delay.

      4. avatar LarryinTX says:

        WTF is a “firearms licensee”? I don’t see a definition. And has anyone, anywhere, EVER been prosecuted? Because I don’t see how. Maybe no one has ever stolen a firearm, although this does not seem to prohibit that.

  3. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Great information. I’m lucky. I just call my former agency and ask them to run it FCIC/NCIC before the purchase. Only had to once. All other private sales have involved friends/relatives so no worries. However, Mike buys firearms off the internet regularly. He always uses the FDLE website prior to purchase. He’s never had a problem. About reporting theft/loss. I was a victim of a burglary many years ago. I didn’t get everything back, but because I had serial numbers written down my 6″ stainless Python is in my safe today. It was my present to myself upon honorable discharge from the U.S. Army. It means a little bit to me.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Good for you. My 4″ Python was stolen in 1969, promptly reported to police, never even got an update, it was clear the only purpose for the police was to allow an insurance claim. That was San Antonio.

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        Larry, sorry for your loss. In 1969 the process was so primitive, compared to today, that it would have been a damn near miracle if you recovered that revolver. Write your serial numbers down!

    2. avatar Miner49er says:

      “I just call my former agency and ask them to run it FCIC/NCIC before the purchase.”

      E gads, wouldn’t it be illegal?

      Or is it one of the special hidden privileges police officers have as opposed to just a plain ordinary lowly citizen?

      I’m surprised a taxpayer funded law-enforcement agency would have a policy that allowed ex-employees to access confidential databases, that somehow seems wrong, don’t you think?

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        Miner, only illegal if I try to access the database. Nothing illegal about an active LEO running a serial number and saying, “No record found.” to a citizen. When I said I’m lucky I meant I have many of my former colleagues PX #. Why don’t you go back to your leftist, liberal, troll hell and leave the rest of us alone?

        1. avatar Miner49er says:

          Say, that’s great! Can you run some numbers for me. How about some tags, can you run some tags for us?

          It’s not right and you know it, those databases are for official business only.

          You know, I respect your work and service, and I’ve known many cops who would do this sort of thing and thought it was perfectly OK.

          But it’s not. I think it’s wrong of law-enforcement to withhold the lost/stolen database from the public, it’s a public record made with public funds and we should have free access to it in order to know how to avoid incriminating ourselves.

          What is the compelling public interest for withholding this information from the public? These records should be available at the very least to an FOIA request and really should be just like tax records or property deeds, public records.

          But authoritarians want to control this information and prevent citizens from avoiding incriminating themselves, that’s not protecting and serving the public

        2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          It’s not withheld from the public you nit-wit. You have any idea how many times I ran a VIN for a citizen to insure a motor vehicle had a clear title? They could have gotten the same information at the tax collector’s office. I saved them the trouble by coming to their home. Those that speak from ignorance should remain silent. (That means you, you fucking idiot.)

        3. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          BTW. you don’t own that tag. It belongs to to the state. And it’s not exactly private information. After all, it’s on public display. If I weren’t retired with time on my hands I’d not concern myself with the stupid. Come to think of it I think I’ll no longer concern myself with you. Nothing pisses off a troll like being ignored. Goodbye little man.

        4. avatar Docduracoat says:

          I Say that I object to your having access to the database from your buddies who are still employed at the agency.
          How come I have no access to this database?
          It’s compiled and maintained with my tax dollars.

          Plus I’m not exactly certain it’s legal for you to ask your buddies to access a confidential database.
          I’m certain that your buddy has to have an official reason to access a departmental database.
          Doing a favor for an ex cop friend does not constitute official state business.
          As a doctor, I can’t ask one of my Doctor buddies to look at a patient’s chart if I’m not on the case.
          I’m not allowed to just stroll in there and open some patient’s chart and start reading it if I’m not involved with that patient.

          Why should ex police officers get special dispensation that ordinary citizens don’t?
          Once you retire from the force you are a citizen just like me.

  4. avatar former water walker says:

    I’ve bought a few gats but I knew the buyer very well. Ditto selling. I’m with Cloudbuster. The less the law knows the better especially with dims screaming registration/confiscation! And I’ve had experience a LONG time ago with the herb. NOW that chit is legal!!!

  5. avatar RGP says:

    Say “Mind if I run a check on it?”

    If the seller takes off running, it’s probably stolen.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Same. If they look squirrely….I ask ” what will I find when I run the serial number on this?”.

      Has a guy pause too long once…..I walked away.

  6. avatar Not Larry from Texas says:

    I can’t sell a pistol in a private sale in PA and I always run the rifles through a LGS not worth my career if something fishy happens along the line though I will accept a C&R license if it is suitable for the sale. But that’s me I am overly paranoid about something coming back to bit me.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Interesting. Larry from Texas *can* sell a pistol in a private sale in PA! OR a rifle/shottie.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Not legally.

        1. avatar LarryinTX says:

          Really? Have you ever read 2A?

      2. avatar Not Larry from Texas says:

        I cannot sell any sort of pistol in PA, there is actually a state registration/ registery for all handgun purchases . Only after 20 years dose the handgun go off it. Le I said not worth the hassle if I get caught doing something like that.

        1. avatar Not Larry from Texas says:

          Like I said not Le**

        2. avatar LarryinTX says:

          By 20 years from now, the taxpayer will be very tired of paying for that registration, which will have solved zero actual crimes, ie other than “failure to register”.

  7. avatar wr Roberts says:

    Fellows if you shoot someone with a stolen gun– and that is the bottom line of what guns are for, correct, self defense- you are the bad guy. No unmuddying that water. There is always some poor sap buys a gun at the gun show, trades it to the pawn shop and the gun comes up stolen. You get a pass once but after that cops look hard at you. Having a stolen gun is like having cocaine in the car or house. As for the government knowing what you do I assume your work, pay bills, and have a social security number. When they come to take the guns wont be looking at a national registry it will be house to house.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      So my neighbor doesn’t need to worry? Because they won’t be going on past me.

  8. avatar ACAB says:

    “You don’t want to be answering uncomfortable police questions without documentation to back you up.”

    What part of “Dont talk to the police” isn’t going through? Do not talk to the police. It’s that simple. Don’t answer questions, take the fifth and demand a lawyer.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      And when your lawyer gets done talking to the police you still go to jail for possessing stolen property or an illegal gun deal.

      1. avatar arc - the annoying one. says:

        DAs treat the well lawyer’d very differently and a good lawyer isn’t going to incriminate their client. If every case goes to trial, it will literally crash the entire injustice system. Like so many other things government, it’s a numbers game. The DA can spend finite resources putting several people in prison who don’t have lawyers, accept plea deals, etc; or spend the same resources trying to put one person in jail who makes it clear he is going to fight the charges.

        Having a good lawyer is priceless. Good attorneys usually know the judges fairly well and can vouch for you if you really are on the up and up. They have intimate / inside knowledge of just about everyone in the system, especially if it’s local. Attorneys get plenty of time to speak, etc, in the court room, and having a good one paints you in a much better light.

        One of the perks of living in the deep rural countryside is that people have probably met the judge, the lawyers, mayor, the whole chain, if they are active in the community. that’s worth a lot in it’s own right.

        1. avatar Wally1 says:

          I totally agree with getting a good lawyer involved. When I was on the job, It used to tick me off when the prosecutors office would deal away so many cases to a lesser charge. I was a young cop and talked with one of the prosecutors about it. I remember him telling me, “Well, if you can figure out how to have 200 jury trials on a Tuesday morning, I’m all ears”. I had no idea of the vast number of cases they dealt with on a daily basis. Kind of put things into perspective.

          I have seen many cases with good attorneys involved drag the case out so long, witnesses move, memories fade, evidence is mishandled. Comes to mind a case I was summoned for 8 years after I retired.

      2. avatar Model 31 says:

        And this is where cops as a whole can stop earning their current reputation. As a juror, I”d like to back them in a court room but my backing is not blind nor is it unconditional. I got nothing for anybody that hides behind laws they’ve put above the Bill of Rights.

  9. avatar BardDavid says:

    I went back and forth considering this a few times and asked myself: would I care if it was a washing machine? A set of power tools? A desk? The reasons you should care about buying something stolen is that it a) encourages theft, b) means you are profiting from someone else’s loss, c) someone might want it back. If a thief can steal something (a car, a gun, and wallet) and make money they are going to do it again; by buying it you are indirectly encouraging them to do it again. And if you so happen to have that stolen property the owner is going to want it back. You paid $1,500 bucks for my stolen car? Too bad, I am getting it back.

    As for selling, which wasn’t the topic but still, you are protected by the law if you know the person you are selling to isn’t a prohibited person. If the police pull texts/emails from a phone and part of the conversation is “We aren’t doing a background check, right?” that might be your butt right there.

    A lot of the time your ‘gut’ is right. If it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t right. Walk away.

    1. avatar Not Larry from Texas says:

      Use a burner phone and email. Or accidentally erase it all once in a while like Mullers people.

  10. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Dan, is that a Hi-Standard .22 revolver? Want to sell it?

    1. avatar jwm says:

      It looks like the High Standard I had in the 70’s.

    2. avatar Dan Zimmerman says:

      Yes sir. It’s the Sentinel Deluxe. I inherited it from my uncle. Not sure I want to part with it.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        An interesting design even if not successful.

        Some of the elements were included in the Ruger Security series and in the current LCR.

        Yours is in nice shape. Most of the copies I have shot were well-used in Mississippi humidity and not quite so lustrous.

      2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        Pay top dollar.

      3. Dan, I had one just like it, near mint. Just gave it to my grand daughter. I got it from the older gentleman that purchased it new. She loves it.

      4. It’s in very good shape. Nice single action pull, but double action is a real challenge. Too much to measure the pull weight. It’s probably 20 lbs. I’ll probably take it in for a trigger job. Great little revolver for teaching new shooters.

  11. avatar Tec's Dad says:

    In Connecticut as the state is involved in your transfer you call the Special Weapons and Firearms Unit and they ask for your permit # you tell them what you are doing buying a used revolver, for example. They ask you for the serial # and run it in the NCIC…if it comes back clean they give you an authorization # that has to be put on the state forms as well as the 4473…

    1. avatar arc - the annoying one says:

      This seems like it punishes those that respect the law but does nothing to stop people who don’t bother with dumb little systems and just swap cash for gun, without any questions.

      It may help prevent you from buying a stolen gun, but the fact is, you shouldn’t have to worry about being thrown in prison in the first place for unknowingly purchasing a stolen gun.

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Gee, that almost sounds like deliberate infringement.

  12. avatar Scooter says:

    I got to visit with some friendly ATF agents after I purchased a pistol from a store, as the previous owner did not work and play well with others. Ran some rounds through it to match the brass to casings they had, checking pin marks, ejector marks… luckily no match.

  13. avatar Prndll says:

    It’s one of the nicer aspects of being the first to fire something and break it in. It’s never in question. Police trade ins are a consideration too. But everyone does what they want.

    What happens if your 80% home brew no serial AR gets stolen?

    1. avatar arc - the annoying one says:

      The serial number isn’t an issue when it’s not in a government database. Serial numbers were originally to track inventory in manufacturing, QC, etc, not infringe on rights. You can serialize your own 80% rifle and the swamp won’t know anything about it but it can identify the weapon if it’s ever stolen. The S/N on a home made rifle would be known to you and you alone.

      To each their own if they want to put a number on their home made rifles or not.

  14. avatar Ben Bow says:

    to those that don;t care if a gun is stolen – – F. U.

    to my mind, there is nothing lower than a thief. Someone that would buy something, knowing or suspecting it is stolen, in my mind, is a thief.

    How would you feel if a thief took the first gun you ever owned, sold it to someone that did not care that it was stolen, and you never got it back`

    1. avatar arc - the annoying one says:

      Throwing a wrench in this. Suppose the person, of their own volition, already sold the first gun they ever owned?

      How much I personally would care would be directly proportional to how wealthy I am. If I’m in the poor house, sure, I may care more; if I were a billionaire I would care less, if it all, and probably sign some papers and have one of my secretaries replace anything that I wanted to recover. Insurance would likely send me a check.

      hypothetical questions…

      1. avatar Ben Bow says:

        again, THIEVES ARE BAD, as are people who buy and sell stolen stuff.

        Anyone that defends a thief is not fit to breath the public air

        1. avatar Miner49er says:

          Wow, somebody on this list who actually has a sense of ethics!

          Thank you sir, for speaking the truth.

          It is interesting that so many of the ‘patriots’ on this list seem ambivalent about being a good citizen with integrity and good character.

          I guess they too all wish they could “stand on fifth Avenue and shoot someone and no one would care“.

        2. avatar jwm says:

          miner, You’re involved in an ongoing conspiracy to overthrow the legally elected .gov of this country but you spout off about ethics and legality.


    2. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      I’ve bought a lot of things used — guitars, trailers, farm equipment, etc. For anything that doesn’t come with a title, not once have I ever required the person to prove the item isn’t stolen. Why should I do any different with a gun if it’s not legally required? I don’t automatically assume everyone trying to sell me something is a thief. We’re not talking a guy in a trenchcoat in a dark alley going “Psst! Gun for sale! Cheap! Cash only!”

    3. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Ben, I hear you, now try to hear me. I would much prefer that to having my every action subject to scrutiny by nameless, faceless bureaucrats who have been handed the authority to make up rules as they go along. The government has no authority to demand serial numbers on firearms, because the 2A PROHIBITS them from having that authority. The fact that they claim it anyway is a total failure of our form of government. Find a way to prevent theft which does not involve government. Otherwise, I will not participate.

  15. avatar possum says:

    How it works in this state. You can not have access to NCIC records. You can have someone authorized to do it for you. If the gunm is listed as stolen the gunm will be taken from you. Counties. Can I have you run these numbers before I purchase this gunm. No you must purchase the gunm first and turn it in as stolen. ,,,,,,How we legally guys do it here is. Buy the shooter, maybe write a bill of sale to cya, and go from there. It’s not my legal responsibility to know. If caught I just lose gunm and get a bunch of cop shit questions.

    1. avatar possum says:

      Knowing I’ll probably get shit about that let me clarify, The only way I can find out if a gunm is stolen is to buy it and let the law run the numbers( GS, pawnshop, gotta turnem in right if there stole?), If the law runs the numbers, I’m questioned and the firearm is taken. My only hope of getting that money back is in court on the seller, good luck right. Or out of kindness the victim of the gunm theft sends you a check, miracle because the Law won’t tell them who had it after it was stolen and no convictions were made. ,,,, Used to be I’d call up the County, Hey I’m buying this gunm is it hot?” ,,,,, No it’s not, or Yes it is, whose got it. Times change, PLM

      1. avatar Miner49er says:

        “Used to be I’d call up the County, Hey I’m buying this gunm is it hot?” ,,,,, No it’s not, or Yes it is, whose got it.”

        And did you tell them who had the stolen gun?

        Did they saddle up and arrest the thief and recover the stolen property for the rightful owner?

        1. avatar jwm says:

          A socialist that believes in ‘wealth redistribution’ aka stealing others treasure trying to pretend he cares about property rights. Fascinating.

  16. avatar gus says:

  17. avatar Zippy says:

    I’m not giving a “bill of sale” to anyone I sell a gun to (admittedly few).. And I’m quite amazed that a lawyer would give advice like that.

    Because of our for-profit legal system, cops ask “uncomfortable questions” every time they have any contact with anyone, for any reason. No matter your political thoughts on the matter, cops are poorly-trained on the law, and they are also trained to be “hammers” and that everyone in the population (who isn’t a cop) is a “nail”.

    Part of being a citizen in this country today is learning to say NO to them, and to avoid even superficial contact with them.

    Just like in a card game, if you don’t know who the patsy is, it’s you- in police interrogations, you’re always going to be a nail. Your best and only defense is to shut up.

    Exculpatory evidence won’t help you if you give it to a cop, they don’t know the law and can’t be bothered to learn it. Cop school teaches cops what they can get away with, not what limits them, and they’ve consistently pushed the limits of what is legal and acceptable for 200 years, and judges haven’t found a civil right they couldn’t abridge if a cop asks them to.

    Shut up, and stick to it. Especially if you’re innocent of any crime. That’s advice from cops and prosecutors.

    1. avatar Gotscha says:

      The bill of sale protects you. I don’t care if the police understand it’s importance – the prosecutor will. If a gun you originally purchased and later sold ends up at a crime scene, there’s a good chance you will be getting a knock on the door. With a bill of sale, you’re not the last chain in the chain of custody for that firearm. Plus, if a crime was committed with a gun you sold, wouldn’t you want the police to find the perpetrator?

      So go ahead, lawyer up – but lawyering up with exculpatory evidence like a bill of sale will save you time and save you a lot of your lawyer’s billable time – and that’s money in the bank for you.

      1. avatar Miner49er says:

        “if a crime was committed with a gun you sold, wouldn’t you want the police to find the perpetrator?”

        I’m sorry to say, but most on this list would answer “I don’t care“.

        I think I heard their ‘Chosen One’ say just a few days ago “I’m not responsible for anything.”

      2. avatar LarryinTX says:

        You seriously have got to be shitting me. We have many, many people attempting to sue anyone who sells a gun into the poorhouse, particularly if it is later used in a crime. So you suggest I sign a document saying “yeah! I sold this guy a gun”? No, thanks.

    2. avatar fire and brimstone says:

      This, this, a million times this!

      Do not cooperate with JBTs. Do not think for 1 second that your “I support the police” yard sign, TBL flag, or FOP donor sticker will protect you from being SWATted or arrested and charged with absolute BS.

  18. avatar Don from CT says:

    There is no difference between doing a private sale or a purchase from a dealer. In both cases, nobody has a way to check if the firearm is stolen.

    So there is no more or less risk in either type of transaction.

    This is an irrelevant article since there is nothing anyone can do about anything that relates to this. Other than use common sense if the seller seems questionable.

    1. avatar Miner49er says:

      “There is no difference between doing a private sale or a purchase from a dealer. In both cases, nobody has a way to check if the firearm is stolen.”

      I could not disagree more with this statement.

      With a retail purchase you have the full weight of the owner and his liability insurance behind the sale, and any retail purchaser has a reasonable expectation that the item is not stolen.

      Furthermore, if it’s a pawnshop they are required to provide the police department with model and serial numbers of every gun they take in each day so there’s an extra layer of assurance.

      And a retail sale is an arm’s-length transaction, that means there was no conspiracy or aid to any criminal enterprise.

      None of this applies to a private transaction, it could be just members of a gang trading weapons internally. And being caught in possession of stolen firearms puts you in the hole right out of the gate, you can protest all you want but the presumption will be one of guilt rather than innocence.

      And if you use that stolen gun in an otherwise righteous shoot, you’re really going to be in a fight for your life.

      A bill of sale might help, but who’s to say it’s not a forgery after the fact? It’s not a pre-printed form from an established dealer, it is not numbered and there’s no separate permanent record held in an archive.

      And if you ‘unknowingly’ (ha ha) sell one of your firearms to a prohibited person, and then they use it to kill or maim someone, the games will begin as well.

      The only rule in private sales is, let the buyer and seller beware.

      1. avatar Gotscha says:

        A bill of sale should always have the drivers license number of both the buyer and the seller on it as well as a signature from each party. That shows a good-faith effort to verify the identities of both parties as well as make it much more difficult to forge after the fact.

        Is it perfect protection? Of course not. But it sure beats the hell out of trying to prove your innocence without it. At the very least it should create a reasonable doubt with a competent prosecutor and – worst case – jury.

  19. avatar Robert A says:

    Arizona used to have a number you could call, read the SN and they would tell you if the gun was stolen. That was 12 years ago, I am sure it is still in service.

  20. avatar Mike Carbine says:

    This is a bit old so no one will ever see it. But I knew a guy in the same gunsmithing school I was attending that had a gun of his turn up hot. It was a vehicular stop and he had all his guns with em on his way home. So the ‘nice cop’ ran every one of them, sure enough one turned up hot, and he lost em all. Round a dozen, last I heard 3 years later he was still trying to get the rest of em back.

  21. avatar KDO says:

    I had a friend that had a gun returned to him that was stolen almost 40 years ago. He had reported it as stolen then. It was used in a crime, but because he had reported it stolen, the police did not suspect him of the crime.
    He had moved, but law enforcement tracked him down via his drivers license records.

  22. avatar Tim Wells says:

    Move to Arizona and you won’t have to worry about most of what’s argued above. Personally, I always get the drivers license info when I sell to a person I don’t know so if anything goes wrong I’m covered as to the identity of who I sold to. Most firearms floating around were originally sold on a Form 4473 and if law enforcement start searching, I don’t want to be the last guy they talk to.

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