The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Conference Center > Law and Civil Rights

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old September 2, 2009, 10:22 AM   #1
ISC
Junior member
 
Join Date: August 5, 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,982
Selling guns, photos with visable serial numbers

http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/...d.php?t=374659

The above thread underscored the sense in blurring/hiding serial numbers of firearms.

I have bought and sold ALOT of guns over the years. Most of them were used, and quite a few of them ended up being weapons that I ended up not liking so I sold it later. I've also bought guns several times that I later sold because I found the same gun that was in better shape or had features or accessories that came with it that I wanted. Over the years I've built a collection that is impressive by almost anyone's standards.

I've worried whether or not I might some day get harrassed by ATF due to the many transactions that were necesary to form my collection. I don't have much confidence in the ATF and am aware of their track record for predatory investigations, harrassment of collectors and dealers, and the general incompetence of many of their agents. I worry about it enough that I would seriously consider getting an FFL, but the ATF won't issue one unless you have a storefront in an area zoned for commercial.

For these reasons I think we should always hide the serial numbers of guns sold in online transactions.

Any thoughts on other steps a collector should take to avoid harrassment and prosecution from the ATF?
ISC is offline  
Old September 2, 2009, 10:33 AM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
Staff
 
Join Date: June 25, 2008
Location: Central, Southern NY, USA
Posts: 18,336
The way I see it:

If you're not doing anything illegal, and doing everything reasonable to insure such, then don't worry about it.

Do you really think that the ATF needs a PHOTO to get the serial number? If they want the gun they're probably going to find it.... and the serial number will be stamped right there on it.

Don't do illegal things. Make every effort to not associate with, or sell to, people who do. End of story.
__________________
Still happily answering to the call-sign Peetza.
---
The problem, as you so eloquently put it, is choice.
-The Architect
-----
He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.
-Jim Eliott, paraphrasing Philip Henry.
Brian Pfleuger is offline  
Old September 2, 2009, 11:11 AM   #3
ISC
Junior member
 
Join Date: August 5, 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,982
Read the OP in the thread I linked to.

My point is that some folks only buy a gun once a year or so.

Another may buy 10 or 15 a year and only keep 1/2 of them in their collection because they didn't like the way some shot or sold the example they bought a year or two ago that was more beat up or had 10% less bluing.

The collector in the second example, may end up selling/trading 5 to 10 guns a year and even make a few dollars off of some of them. It's easy to see how ATF might target him and initiate an investigation.

I have bought a rifle before because I wanted the stock off of it for one I already had. After sapping the stock and keeping the mags, a week later I sold that rifle after installing the beat up stock from my original rifle. Is that "dealer activity"? If ATF sees you buying and selling the same rifle a week later they might think so.

Remember that there is no statute defining what it is to be "dealing in firearms". The guideline references making a significant livlihood or spending alot of time on the guns or something like that. I've heard that about a thumbrule of 6 guns/year, but never actually seen it referenced officially.

My point is that any steps that a person can take to minimize the ease with which an ATF fishing expedition can be done is worthwhile.

Last edited by ISC; September 2, 2009 at 11:22 AM.
ISC is offline  
Old September 2, 2009, 12:08 PM   #4
Brian Pfleuger
Staff
 
Join Date: June 25, 2008
Location: Central, Southern NY, USA
Posts: 18,336
Quote:
Read the OP in the thread I linked to.
I did.... hence my comment about the ATF not needing a photo to trace the serial number.

From the OP of linked thread:

Quote:
Well apparently the picture he posted of my gun on the forum was a clear enough photo that he was able to trace the serial number back to the dealer that I bought the gun from.

If there's no serial number and they want to find you then they'll subpoena computer records.

Not to mention that the ways that many people use to hide the serial numbers can simply be removed by the feds. They have stated so publicly, on TV in fact. There was a guy arrested for sexual contact with a minor after he posted videos with his face blurred. The FBI simply "unblurred" the images.
__________________
Still happily answering to the call-sign Peetza.
---
The problem, as you so eloquently put it, is choice.
-The Architect
-----
He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.
-Jim Eliott, paraphrasing Philip Henry.
Brian Pfleuger is offline  
Old September 6, 2009, 03:47 PM   #5
SigP6Carry
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 27, 2009
Posts: 1,086
peetzakiller, that's not quite how videos and photos work. They way they caught the guy with the pedophile video was more than likely through tracing IP addresses and subpoenaing (how do you spell that?) internet records from ISP's and server companies. It's not hard to find the origin of a single file if you know how to do it and have the proper legal authority.

In the case of "blacked out serial numbers" on gun pictures, the pictures would easily be unblacked out or unblurred (in the case of the video) if they came to the internet in their original .PPS, .UFO or other raw data files for using with editing software, but if a video or photo is uploaded as a simple .BMP, .AVI, .JPG or .MPG then you cannot "unblack-out or unblur" the end result, as the layers and objects are merged into the file as a single layer and object and all the information about layering and objects are generally tossed out of the file for the sake of compression. Simply put: the initial raw material simply does not exist.

Blurring in an image or video is produced by greatly decreasing the resolution of a certain area, thus removing vital information from the file relevant to the initial image. It's not entirely impossible, but it's more than likely easier to follow IP's, transfers and ISPs until you can find the source, then seize the hardware used and find the original files, then you have a case built.

Sorry for getting off topic, but I felt I should clear it up.
SigP6Carry is offline  
Old September 6, 2009, 05:38 PM   #6
tyme
Staff
 
Join Date: October 13, 2001
Posts: 3,152
I always thought the main concern with posting images of guns with SN visible was that someone might then claim that your gun was stolen from them. They can't claim to own the gun any better than you can, but it's still a they-said, you-said... If you don't have a verifiable receipt for the gun, it may cause you some grief. Unlikely but possible.

The problem with blurring numbers or text is that it doesn't have to be readable to be recoverable. All someone has to do is match the background, match the blurring algorithm, and try blurring all the digits and/or letters to see which of them is closest to each blurred character in the image.

The best way to remove details from an image is to draw over them with a solid color. (And don't save as a format that allows multiple layers unless you know ALL the layers have been sanitized.)
__________________
“The egg hatched...” “...the egg hatched... and a hundred baby spiders came out...”
“Who are you?” “A friend. I'm here to prevent you from making a mistake.” “You have no idea what I'm doing here, friend.” “In specific terms, no, but I swore an oath to protect the world...”
“It's a goal you won't understand until later. Your job is to make sure he doesn't achieve the goal.”
tyme is offline  
Old September 6, 2009, 10:51 PM   #7
johnwilliamson062
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 16, 2008
Posts: 6,759
They can definitely unblur some photos. There are certain utilities which follow a very specific pattern when blurring the area. If you black it out you can do that without them being able to undo it. You can use the scramble feature in some utlities to permanently scramble it. The story originally cited about the guy being caught is true. Child pornography rings are in many cases very complicated and a simple "ISP trace" is well below what most large scale piracy schemes use. The photo was "unblurred" and shown on television in Europe and the man, a school teacher I believe, was found out within a day or so.

I would never bother with blurring out the serial numbers. If the ATF wants to investigate me they are going to get into my e-mail and phone records with almost no problem whatsoever. From there they can get a hold of almost everyone I have ever purchased/sold a gun to. In most cases e-mails would involve all the details they wanted. IF I was doing something illegal I would not be posting anything at all on the internet, certainly not under my real name.
If there was ever some sort of national seizure, the amount of data they would have to go through if they wanted to investigate in that manner would be prohibitive.

BTW, for all of you too afraid to post under your real name, so far I have met a good number of nice people through this site and others I post under my real name and no wackos. To me, no different than using my real name when introducing myself to someone I meet at a seminar or a pick up game. Maybe if had a valuable firearms collection or any money I would think differently.
__________________
$0 of an NRA membership goes to legislative action or court battles. Not a dime. Only money contributed to the NRA-ILA or NRA-PVF. You could just donate to the Second Amendment Foundation
First Shotgun Thread First Rifle Thread First Pistol Thread
johnwilliamson062 is offline  
Old September 6, 2009, 11:32 PM   #8
csmsss
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 24, 2008
Location: Orange, TX
Posts: 2,979
There's a simple answer to all of this. If you wish to post photos of a firearm, and for whatever reason don't want the entire world to figure out the serial number, just cover the letters and numbers you don't wish displayed with black electrical tape when you shoot your photos. No one can "undo" what isn't there in the first place.
csmsss is offline  
Old September 7, 2009, 07:20 AM   #9
blume357
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 2, 2005
Location: Greenville, SC
Posts: 3,943
I'm sure the government can refocus / unscramble all those serial

numbers... as well as they have a super computer that can scan the internet and pull the registration numbers off of all these pictured and even have an identification program that can sort the guns.... has to be... I've seen it on television........ CSI and NCIS do it all the time.
blume357 is offline  
Old September 12, 2009, 06:19 PM   #10
dk148
Member
 
Join Date: April 14, 2009
Location: VA
Posts: 38
Gun serial #’s are stored in FFL’s acquisitions and dispositions book (A&D bound book) and ATF form 4473. Someone claiming that a gun is stolen based on a serial # they saw from a picture, would initiate a chain reaction. Starting with local law enforcement, ATF, manufacturer of firearm, wholesaler (or dealer direct), 1st dealer it was sold too, 2nd dealer and or private citizen that bought it on ATF form 4473.

When it turns out that the guy is lying about being the owner of the gun, I am sure the ATF will apply it’s full governmental weight and authoritie directly on his neck, for filing false reports and wasting their time.
__________________
“When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny.” -Thomas Jefferson
dk148 is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:49 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.08509 seconds with 9 queries