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My question is in regard to what the government knows about who own what guns. I have a valid reason for asking, but I'll leave that for another post. Let's just say a gun is used in the commission of a crime and somehow it gets dropped and left at the scene of the crime. The police now have the gun and therefore the serial numbers. How do they or BATFE go about finding out who the legal owner of that gun should be when the gun was sold in a state that does not have registration? From what I understand all transaction records should be destroyed with the exception of the forms that are kept at the LGS that transferred the gun to its owner. Background checks don't include information on the make, model or serial number of the gun you're buying. Obviously searching through every form at each and every LGS won't work, so how do they know?
 

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I'm definitely not an authority on such things but I read an article on this a year or two ago. I'm sorry, I don't recall the source so take this for what you paid for it. If I recall correctly, it's very often a serious slog for LE to track. I think it went something like this... The manufacturer knows which dealer the firearm went to. LE then contacts that dealer for the record of sale. Very often it's a piece of paper in a box in a warehouse and it's a manual search. After that, contact the buyer and go from there.

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There's the BATF paperwork you fill out when you buy one, that's it. It stays on file at the FFL where you bought the gun, isn't submitted to the government unless the FFL goes out of business. They tried to pass bills to keep a data base, but that keeps getting blocked and I believe there is now a law forbidding such data bases. If a crime is committed with a firearm, the BATF can trace it through the dealer paperwork, though. I assume they go first to the manufacturer to start the search. If the gun is sold to a third party, the government us out of luck.
 

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There's the BATF paperwork you fill out when you buy one, that's it. It stays on file at the FFL where you bought the gun, isn't submitted to the government unless the FFL goes out of business. They tried to pass bills to keep a data base, but that keeps getting blocked and I believe there is now a law forbidding such data bases. If a crime is committed with a firearm, the BATF can trace it through the dealer paperwork, though. I assume they go first to the manufacturer to start the search. If the gun is sold to a third party, the government us out of luck.
X-actly (unless things have changed since I was in the business).
they find a weapon they go to the manufacture, use serial number to see what distributor or dealer bought the gun, then to the distributor to find out what gun shop (FFL) bought the gun, then to that gun shop(FFL) and ask to see the 4473 from(if refused then they get a warrant to view it), then look at it, get info, review the FFL logout book, and then go looking for whoever is listed as buyer, thats when things may get interesting IF the Buyer has sold it to another person, especially if it was not accompanied by a bill of sale to the last person.
We (gun Shop) went through this 5-6 times with the Feds.
 

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Bill of sale at the distributor or manuf are the only records kept (supposedly) unless the gun has been reported stolen. That data gets put into a state or national dbase if the state shares the data. That is how it is supposed to work. But in reality I bet in some states even those wo registration they provide data under the table sometimes..I do not trust any government body when it comes to firearms.
 

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The above explanations above are pretty much dead on. While the ATF does not have your individual information on file, they do have a starting place to follow the paperwork from.

Also, if your FFL gets audited by the ATF and they see a large number of transfers going to one individual an investigation can follow. This is what brought a knock upon my door from the AFT a few years ago. It can be a real sobering moment when you answer the door to to ATF Agents holding an 8X10 copy of your CHL and DL in hand asking if you are this person.

I also once received a call from my FFL asking about a pistol that I had purchased a few year back because the ATF was doing a trace on the serial number. I told him that I had sold the pistol but had a Bill of Sale. I forwarded a copy of the Bill Of Sale to my FFL who in turn forwarded it on to the ATF. I never heard a thing after that.

This is why if I sell a firearm in a face to face transaction or purchase one F2F I always do a simple Bill of Sale. I want to know where it goes and where it came from.

A Bill of Sale is a very good CYA tool.
 

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A lot of leg work involved, even if much of it can take place on a phone.

Here's what happened, about two weeks ago I was at my LGS and the owner told me I might be getting a call from ATF regarding a handgun that was used in a crime and had been traced back to me, as the original owner. I knew I no longer owned the gun and didn't hear anything else about it until today. I was out by my shed and an unmarked black Dodge Charger pulled in and two men in plain clothes exited. One identified himself as ATF and the other NYPD. After they told me what they were looking for, I told them that I had traded the gun to the same LGS where, when it was new, it had originally been transferred to me. I gave them the date of the sale and signed a statement affirming the transfer. These two couldn't have been any nicer. As it turns out the gun had been used in the commission of a crime and dropped in Brooklyn only five days after I had traded it in! BTW, Brooklyn is about 100 miles away from me. My guess, and that's all it is, is that the gun was bought in a straw purchase and then sold off at a profit in NYC. Given the short time between when I traded it in and when this crime was committed, I find it hard to believe the gun was stolen from whomever purchased it used at my LGS. I'm sure however that person will claim it was stolen.

As it turns out I was at my LGS just this morning picking up a new Sig M11-A1.
 

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I got "The Call" once from the BATF regarding the disposition of a firearm I purchased new some seven years prior. I told them I sold it to a cousin-in-law. They wanted his contact information. I gave it to them but told them that if he was uncooperative (which I thought he would be) call me back and I'd see if I could find out what he did with it.

The BATF called me back, he was uncooperative. I called him and got it out of him. He pawned it and remembered the pawn shop. That was the last I heard about it.

I was a little pissed that he pawned the 6" nickle plated S&W Model 57 I sold him and didn't offer it to me. I would have given him a lot more. Jackass.

I advise everyone that they should keep records of the disposition of any sold firearms. It's hard to remember after decades.
 

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So if someone builds up an 80% AR, serializes it, gives it to an in-law and that in-law sells it. How would the ATF track it?
 

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Our take on this, from across the Pond, is simple. Every firearm you currently own or have owned will be listed on your application for your licence. Make, model, type of action, calibre and serial number. Same for shotguns. And, where I live it's the same for air rifles and BB guns and crossbows.

All police authorities have access to national firearms database and can cross reference details through this.

To put that into figures as of 31st March 2019

159,745 people held firearms certificates - with an average of 3.7 guns per person

572,448 people held shotgun licences - with an average of 2.4 guns per person

591,302 people hold both firearms and shotgun licences

376 firearm licences were revoked

1,116 shotgun licences were revoked.

Figures for England and Wales show that there are some 3,408 Registered Firearms Dealers.

All these figures will be small beer by US comparisons.
 

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So if someone builds up an 80% AR, serializes it, gives it to an in-law and that in-law sells it. How would the ATF track it?
They couldn't. But why serialize it at all?
 

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If you trust the government, your history teachers sucked at their job.
What history teachers?

Kids have skimmed through history for over 50 years.
 
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As a means of identification in the event of theft or loss.
I think if you serialize it you're opening up a can of worms as to whether or not you are a firearms manufacturer, and should be licensed as such and be required to report. But maybe not. Just seems iffy.
 

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My question is in regard to what the government knows about who own what guns. I have a valid reason for asking, but I'll leave that for another post. Let's just say a gun is used in the commission of a crime and somehow it gets dropped and left at the scene of the crime. The police now have the gun and therefore the serial numbers. How do they or BATFE go about finding out who the legal owner of that gun should be when the gun was sold in a state that does not have registration? From what I understand all transaction records should be destroyed with the exception of the forms that are kept at the LGS that transferred the gun to its owner. Background checks don't include information on the make, model or serial number of the gun you're buying. Obviously searching through every form at each and every LGS won't work, so how do they know?
The manufacturer keeps records of which distributor and FFL the gun was shipped to and the date. With that starting date, the FFLs 4473s can and will be searched to find the original purchaser.
 

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X-actly (unless things have changed since I was in the business).
they find a weapon they go to the manufacture, use serial number to see what distributor or dealer bought the gun, then to the distributor to find out what gun shop (FFL) bought the gun, then to that gun shop(FFL) and ask to see the 4473 from(if refused then they get a warrant to view it), then look at it, get info, review the FFL logout book, and then go looking for whoever is listed as buyer, thats when things may get interesting IF the Buyer has sold it to another person, especially if it was not accompanied by a bill of sale to the last person.
We (gun Shop) went through this 5-6 times with the Feds.
In addition to this excellent reply I wanted to add that when a gun is traced it's not always because a gun was used by a criminal, but is also involved in a crime somehow. For example, back in the day I had an FFL and was contacted because a gun was used by a law abiding defender against a criminal. The gun was confiscated as evidence, and the local agency wanted a trace done. Why would they need it on a good guy/gal? I was told simply procedure on the part of the local agency, dotting all the i's, etc. and to keep the defense from bringing it up at trial. In one case the gun the good guy had was scary looking and technically an assault weapon under the '94 AW ban, but still legal to sell and possess because it was made before '94. Whether that was a factor or not, IDK. The good guy eventually got the gun back and no charges were filed.
 

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I think if you serialize it you're opening up a can of worms as to whether or not you are a firearms manufacturer, and should be licensed as such and be required to report. But maybe not. Just seems iffy.
A while back I read up on selling an 80% lower that was completed. Basically you can sell it if you built it with intentions of having it and using it, later on you got tired of it you could sell it. If you built it with intentions of selling it then you would need a manufactures license.

I know someone that places a serial number on all of his 80% guns he has completed. He does it for his own records and identification if one happens to get stolen. He has given a few away to family members as gifts. Not sure if any that were given away were eventually sold. However they can be sold via private sale without a serial number as long as no other gun sale laws were being broken.
 
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