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Old April 2, 2009, 01:16 AM   #1
jgabriel
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S&W lemon squzeer with serial # problem

Hi there friends,
I am an infrequent user here, as I only work with pre-1898 gun, mostly winchesters and a few S&Ws. Is a post 1898 gun a liability if frame serials have been removed, even if serials still appear elsewhere on gun? Thank you.
John

Last edited by jgabriel; April 2, 2009 at 01:39 AM.
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Old April 2, 2009, 01:21 AM   #2
RamSlammer
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Not a risk I'd take . . . could be a felony just possessing.
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Old April 2, 2009, 01:36 AM   #3
jgabriel
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What would you recommend a person do with such a gun? Tear it down for parts and destroy the frame? Or just go throw the whole thing into some deep water?
John

Last edited by jgabriel; April 2, 2009 at 01:42 AM.
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Old April 2, 2009, 01:43 AM   #4
RamSlammer
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Well, it's a thorny issue. The gun was manufactured before serial numbers became mandatory under law, but you have no way of proving the number was obliterated before then (1969 I believe was the year).
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Old April 2, 2009, 02:14 AM   #5
jgabriel
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Thank you for hanging in with me on this. The gun in question belonged to an 82 year old man who died quite recently. As a point of interest, he was a photo journalist who travelled the world extensively, and no doubt got into some 3rd world countries where he felt a need for personal protection. He could have picked this up in Argentina some time in 1952 for all anyone will ever know (he left no family behind, just many friends).

But I am not sure why destroying the frame (or the entire gun) is a thorny issue. Certainly is more wise than anyone keeping such a thing, and it cannot be legalized or transferred. I could advise the estate turn it over to the police? Thanks much.
John

Last edited by jgabriel; April 2, 2009 at 02:25 AM.
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Old April 2, 2009, 07:25 AM   #6
Jim Watson
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RamSlammer, it is not legal to remove a serial number no matter when it was applied. If a gun ever had a serial number, it must keep it. There are a lot of people finding out to their dismay that Grandpa filed the serial number off the 1911 he pilfered from the Army and converted a $2000 heirloom to BATF "contraband."

I would have the executor contact the BATF, not the local cops, and see what they say. Visible serial numbers elsewhere on an old gun MIGHT get them by. Or it might be confiscated. Too bad.
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Old April 2, 2009, 12:39 PM   #7
jgabriel
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Thank you Jim and Ramslammer,
I think I will have the excutor contact the BATF as the best alternative to keep myself clear and also to either have the gun remain intact or just be rid of it.
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Old April 3, 2009, 11:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
RamSlammer, it is not legal to remove a serial number no matter when it was applied. If a gun ever had a serial number, it must keep it.
Correct. But, it could in some cases be legal to own or possess a gun made before serial numbers were required that also had the number removed before they were even required.

One would need solid proof that the number was removed before they were required by law which makes it somewhat a moot point in most cases since proving those circumstances is nearly impossible.
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Old April 4, 2009, 01:49 AM   #9
Bill DeShivs
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If you have the serial number, it can be reapplied by engraving or stamping-making the gun legal.
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Old April 4, 2009, 12:21 PM   #10
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One would need solid proof that the number was removed before they were required by law which makes it somewhat a moot point in most cases since proving those circumstances is nearly impossible.
So a case of presumed innocence until proven guilty wouldn't apply here? Wouldn't the enforcing or prosecuting entity have to prove the law was broken rather than the owner have to prove it wasn't?
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Old April 4, 2009, 01:26 PM   #11
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Serial numbers can be removed and reapplied legally. Maliciously removing them and leaving them off is illegal.
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Old April 4, 2009, 04:07 PM   #12
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There ya go. If the gun is not junk, just reapply the proper serial number and yer good to go. I don't know what would happen to you if you reapplied the wrong number, but it strikes me that you would get in trouble for possession of the gun with no number. If there is some sort of serial number on it that looks good, no one is probably gonna be the wiser or question it. Not like they are gonna be able to trace something that has been out of circulation for 60 years, and I bet your friend was not a gangster, so I would not feel worried? IF it was a junky gun, it would not be worth the trouble. Do not take this as legal advice, just practical, and my opinion. I have right now, a gun that was legally imported from across the pond. The original number was ground off and a new one applied in the cavity thus formed on the frame. This was done by the original foriegn user before importation. I am not sweating it.
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Old April 4, 2009, 06:00 PM   #13
James K
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Bill wrote "Serial numbers can be removed and reapplied legally. Maliciously removing them and leaving them off is illegal." Bill, can you cite a source for that?

Here is what the law says:

"(k) It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to transport, ship, or receive, in interstate or foreign commerce, any firearm which has had the importer’s or manufacturer’s serial number removed, obliterated, or altered or to possess or receive any firearm which has had the importer’s or manufacturer’s serial number removed, obliterated, or altered and has, at any time, been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce."

There is no mention of intent or maliciousness; the only copout is "knowingly", so if a person had no idea where the serial number was or what had been removed, there would be no crime. FWIW, Section 921 exempts antique (pre-1899) firearms from the whole chapter.

I know BATFE's predecessors used to allow a gunsmith to replace numbers removed in the course of repair or customizing, but I don't see any actual authority for that.

Nor is there any mention of the date the gun was made or whether serial numbers were then required or not, or any mention of multiple serial numbers; the law seems to assume there is only one serial number.

In reality, I can't see BATFE worrying about an old gun with one of several serial numbers removed. But the question was whether the gun could be a problem, and AFAIK, the answer would be yes, technically, it could be.

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Old April 4, 2009, 06:04 PM   #14
trigger happy
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Quote:
So a case of presumed innocence until proven guilty wouldn't apply here? Wouldn't the enforcing or prosecuting entity have to prove the law was broken rather than the owner have to prove it wasn't?
That's what you'd expect but you'd find yourself guilty until you could prove you were innocent. Welcome to the reality of firearm ownership in the 21st century, enjoy your stay
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Old April 9, 2009, 05:29 AM   #15
bamafan4life
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does it have pearl grips? if so my great grandpa had one and used it to protect his store in down town chatanooga from a guy that was going to kill him. he sold the gun after my uncle knows who has it but idk if the guy is still alive.
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Old April 29, 2009, 03:03 PM   #16
pepsquad
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my uncle has one of those

it's missing the hammer return spring, if you decide to junk it. I'd buy the spring from you. But i sure hope you don't have to.
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