Duck hunting shotgun dog
Dan Z. for TTAG
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By Richard Hayes

This time of year is a favorite among many gun owners, getting away from the world, hanging out with some close friends, and going on a ritual hunting trip. Perhaps you prefer hiking, fishing, or some other getaway. Unfortunately, the best laid plans can become the worst trip imaginable when you find your truck or your car broken into, windows smashed, and your gun is missing. What should you do right now? Better yet, what could you have done to avoid this, if anything?

If this ever happens to you, you’ll need to protect yourself by talking to an attorney to have their advice on how to handle your police report. It’s hard to believe you were just the victim of a crime, but in many places you may feel like you are being treated as the criminal.

Know the Reporting Requirements for a Stolen Gun

Be aware that some states have mandatory reporting requirements if your gun is stolen. And even if a state doesn’t require it, you’ll want to have a paper trail establishing when the firearms left your possession so that you are not implicated in a future crime. Worse than having your gun stolen is to be falsely accused of a crime. If you fail to report your gun stolen and then find yourself confronted by law enforcement weeks, months, or even years later, you may learn that your stolen gun has been used in a crime such as a murder or a robbery.

Having your U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney at the ready becomes even more critical in these cases. Some jurisdictions will send an officer out to take a report, and some will take the report over the phone. But you’ll need to have some information ready in order to make that report, such as the make, model, and serial number of the stolen weapon or weapons.

duck hunting shotgun dog
Dan Z. for TTAG

More importantly, you will want to have the advice of your U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney so that when you are talking with the police, you will understand all of the gun laws applicable to the situation and avoid any of the legal “gotcha’s” relating to your possession of the weapon, how it was stored, or even its accessibility to children or others.

After you make your report, police will enter the firearms and flag them as stolen in the National Crime Information Center (“NCIC”). This crucial step will have the biggest impact on being notified if your firearm winds up at a crime scene, or perhaps even at a pawn shop.

Check the State Laws and Check Your Vehicle Before Heading Out

Another consideration is when your getaway travel plans take you beyond the borders of your home state. You must check the laws of any states to where you travel when you’re traveling through them before you hit the road. This is especially true if you plan on hunting, because you’ll want to be aware of all the firearms and wildlife laws before you take aim at that 10-point buck.

And if you stop for a bite to eat or an overnighter on your journey, do not leave your firearms visible in your vehicle. The volume of vehicle break-ins seems to be increasing daily, and firearms are the top prize for a criminal. You also don’t want to accidentally bring a weapon that is legal in your home state, but illegal in the state, county, or city you are visiting. Many jurisdictions require firearms to remain concealed within a vehicle. The last thing you want is to leave for your getaway only to return home on probation.

If you have not already done so, make sure you take photos of your firearm serial numbers and back them up electronically. Of course, if you don’t want to send pictures of your guns to the cloud, keep a written log of the make, model, and serial numbers of your firearms, and keep the logs stored in a separate, secured location away from your gun collection.

It is important to know the laws of the state you find yourself in before traveling and preparing for your getaway hunting, hiking, or fishing trip. And I hope this year’s getaway is your best ever.



Richard Hayes is an Independent Program Attorney for U.S. LawShield.

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  1. there were some stolen gun databases on the internet that could help get them back, but they all seem to be broken or offline.

  2. This sure reads like it’s sponsored content from U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney. Just sayin’.

  3. I’ve been on many out of state hunting trips. A little common sense goes a long way. When you stop to eat park and sit where you can keep a visual on your vehicle or hit the drive thru and eat in the truck. If you’re going hunting I’m guessing you’re bush broke. Don’t use the rest area unless you have a partner. Then piss in shifts. If you have to over night pick a motel where you can park in front of your room and bring all firearms inside. Write down all serial numbers of firearms you are traveling with and keep them some place safe. Not your wallet. It can be stolen too. I always kept mine in the pocket of the shirt I was wearing. Last, keep your eyes skinned!

  4. Although a hunting vehicle usually looks like a hunting vehicle….jacked up with monster tires and mud and adorned with your favorite gun signage…..probably carrying guns, it is wise to remove all decals/plates/signs from your vehicle that highlight a hunting/shooting/gun leaning. Dump the NRA/Glock/Sig/”I’d rather be hunting”/pro-Second Amendment/Molon Labe/Don’t Tread On Me et el, et el signage from your vehicle. At home, it merely says “follow me home to see where my guns live”. On the road, it says “Smash and Grab Here.” Although a little hard to swallow, one might actually place temporary (magnetic, vinyl cling…) anti-gun signage on your vehicle while driving with guns on board. Your bravado pro-gun signage isn’t going to change an anti-gunny’s position on guns, but it will attract unwanted attention from criminals. Subdue your testosterone and save your guns.

  5. My cars have been broken into at least six times (although none in the last 25 years). At no time did I have any pro-gun signage or anything else indicating that there were guns on board (because there weren’t). They were just crimes of opportunity. A couple of lost car radios and change for toll bridges were taken, and that’s it.

    • I’ve only ever had one car break in. And the dude was pro enough to get the door open without damaging the car. Respect for that.

      He got my 8 track. And two speakers out of the rear window which he removed without damage to the car.

      It’s always a pleasure getting fucked by a pro.

      I’ve known people that had their windows broke and interiors fucked up for little profit. Those low level shit birds should be flogged in the public square.

    • Two times for me. Two lost laptops and a watermelon and yes I had the cop list the watermelon too.

    • I’ve had one shitty stereo stolen when I was 17, and that’s it. Never had any of my good ones ripped…

    • A friend’s car was broken into a couple of years ago and the only thing missing was his wife’s “Baby on Board” sign.

      I told him to report it as an attempted kidnapping.

    • Never had any of my vehicles ever tampered with over my lifetime.

      (of course, now that I’ve said that and properly jinxed myself, I’ll be paying careful attention to my car now…)

    • Back in the 1990s I was working at an IT company. Numerous cars were broken into and several were stolen. Items stolen were briefcases or handbags, laptops, and mobile phones. All were left on open display in the cabin.

      Branch manager called me out in the lunch room at lunchtime that it was suspicious my car hadn’t been broken into or stolen. I replied that I didn’t keep valuable items on display and my car being a manual was undriveable to most joy riders and car thieves.

      But I was for the rest of my employment tarred with the label of thief and always suspected of stealing if someone lost something.

      Even changing offices to another location, away from the methadone clinic a few suburbs away still did not remove the suspicion.

  6. Got my truck broken into on my very first night in my new house a year and a half ago.
    No guns taken, but I lost some keepsakes and some body armor. My passenger door lock is Fubar’d.

    A different sheriffs office caught a bad guy trying to pass one of my checks a few months later. He was on parole already and got kicked out again due to the Kung Flu.

    • After working a 16 hour shift and being up for 20 plus hours I left my LEO gear and in my car a few times without locking my car and in the open. I been lucky

  7. I chain and lock all my gun cases together while traveling. Grab one, you get all. Makes it hard for the bad guy to smash and grab.

  8. U.S. Lawshield needed to be mentioned of few more times. Purchasing a firearm should require mandatory proof of insurance. Keep pushing.

  9. Had a couple cars ransacked many years ago. Neither had anything valuable to a thief. I try to never park pinned into a lot. Always quick getaway mode. Ditto no identifying bumper stickers. Grayman mode…

    • My girlfiend does not lock her car, nothing of any value is kept in it. Her reasoning, ” It’s not worth the broken window.” We both doubt a beat up 98 Sunfire will be stolen that and the left front tire always needs air. Neighbor says “Why are you always pumping that tire up, why don’t you get it fixed.” Her and I just smiled at each other.. It’s nice having a mate who’s just as crayz as you are.

  10. Gun vault in the car if you’re prone to keeping guns in a car. The car could be stolen with a flatbed still but then they say you can’t stop a determined thief.

    And the writer wants you to sign up for rent a lawyer in case they do steal your gun, for some reason they imply you’ll be arrested for it.

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