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Old December 23, 2009, 09:33 AM   #1
muddinman_04
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Buying a Pistol with Serial # Filed Off

Hey guys,
There is a J.P Sauer 7.65mm pistol currently listed on Gunbroker. It isn't a bad looking gun and even has the capture papers with it.

http://gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewIte...Item=151151952

Here is the problem: The man selling it states that "this pistol has its serial number been removed and capture papers indicate that fact." I was under the impression that it was illegal to own, buy, or sell a firearm with the serial number removed.

I kindly sent him a letter asking if he had looked into it and that he might be committing a felony selling (or even owning) the pistol. I would just hate to see an unsuspecting person get into big time trouble over something that could be prevented with a simple email.

Here is his response:
"Thank you for your concern.
Some firearms made before 1968 did not have any serial numbers. The law applies only to the firearms made after 1968(.)"

This maybe true (I haven't really looked into it), but is it legal to have a pre 68 pistol with the serial number REMOVED?
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Old December 23, 2009, 09:37 AM   #2
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Probably couldnt hurt to err on the side of caution.

Better safe than sorry.
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Old December 23, 2009, 09:38 AM   #3
muddinman_04
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I would also like to add that I don't think the capture papers could be called 'legit'. With the serial # removed, anyone could have written that in there with a blank capture paper.
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Old December 23, 2009, 09:40 AM   #4
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I wouldn't buy a pistol without a serial number on a bet.

Why would you risk everything to own a pistol with a questionable past?
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Old December 23, 2009, 09:43 AM   #5
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I'm not looking to buy it! I just was wondering the legality of such a
thing.
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Old December 23, 2009, 09:54 AM   #6
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If the numbers were removed before the 1968 law went into effect they would have been grandfathered. No gun made before that, or was in existence before that, was required to have the numbers - so if they were removed prior to the law going into effect it doesn't really matter.
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Old December 23, 2009, 10:35 AM   #7
muddinman_04
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So the pistol would be legal if it could be proven the number was taken off before 1968. I just don't think the capture paper is enough evidence of this happening. Seems like a big time gray area with one.
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Old December 23, 2009, 10:43 AM   #8
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So it HAD a serial number, but it was ground off? Seems to me the only reason anyone would do that would be to eliminate the possibility of tracing the weapon to a crime. I would steer clear...
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Old December 23, 2009, 10:50 AM   #9
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OK. I think I may have misunderstood. If this is a war trophy and had the serial number ground off before being brought home from the war, it seems to be similar to the situation in which many old Japanese rifles had the mum ground off before turning them over to US Forces. It would still be collectible, but not as highly prized. But if the seller is not the original owner (person who brought it home from the war) and has no idea when the serial number was ground off, then I hold to my earlier statement.

Just seems a bit "off" to me. I think I would still steer clear...
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Old December 23, 2009, 10:52 AM   #10
Jim Watson
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Quote:
If the numbers were removed before the 1968 law went into effect they would have been grandfathered. No gun made before that, or was in existence before that, was required to have the numbers - so if they were removed prior to the law going into effect it doesn't really matter.
Not so.
It is illegal to remove or alter any serial number.
The factory did not have to apply one until GCA 1968, but if it ever had one, it must stay there.
This little gun is poison, the capture papers do not trump law and regulation.
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Old December 23, 2009, 11:09 AM   #11
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Can you ask that question of the Gunbroker website folks? Is there a report link for auctions and simply ask them about the legality of the item for sale?
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Old December 23, 2009, 11:14 AM   #12
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If I had the money, I would jump on that gun on a heartbeat. The capture paperwork is dated 1948 and simply states that there is no serial number.

Look at the photos on the gunbroker website posted in the OP.

I take that back, I see in the photos where the serial number was, now.

Anyway, I wouldn't hesitate to buy it.
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Old December 23, 2009, 11:57 AM   #13
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My opinion is that mere possesion of a handgun with the serial numbers filed off would be a felony in most states. Besides, Filing wont remove a serial number. I wont go into how serial numbers are removed. I'd be very suspicious of anyone trying to sell a handgun legitimately without a serial number. The word "STING" somes to mind... And for some strange reason the name Randy Weaver pops into my head. Buyer beware!!!

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Old December 23, 2009, 12:17 PM   #14
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Anecdote: Take it for what it's worth.

Some time back, a collector of my acquaintance purchased a few old S&W revolvers from an estate. One of these revolvers was a WWII "Victory Model" that had the S/N and "US Property" mark obliterated, most likely by a guilty GI who had spirited the gun home in his dufflebag after VJ Day.

On realizing this, he contacted the BATFEIEIO and explained the situation. The nice lady asked if he had a gun safe in which he could leave the gun. He answered in the affirmative. She got his contact info and said they'd get back to him.

A few weeks later she called back and told him to get a pencil and paper and then gave him a number ("2003-123ABC" or somesuch...), and informed him that was the gun's new S/N and he should take it to a gunsmith and have the frame marked as such.

Just FWIW...
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Old December 23, 2009, 01:57 PM   #15
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Quote:
A few weeks later she called back and told him to get a pencil and paper and then gave him a number ("2003-123ABC" or somesuch...), and informed him that was the gun's new S/N and he should take it to a gunsmith and have the frame marked as such.
Now that's the way the government SHOULD work. It's a wonder they didn't stage a full-scale SWAT raid on his residence and confiscate all of his guns!
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Old December 23, 2009, 03:08 PM   #16
Bill DeShivs
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All pistols made after 1934 are required to have serial numbers. Long guns didn't have to have S/Ns before 1968.
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Old December 23, 2009, 03:13 PM   #17
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While Federal law allows for re-serializing the gun

Posession of a gun with an altered or obliterated serial number is against many state laws. I would not buy the gun in question, as while it may be ok with the Feds, it could be a crime in your state. Best to err on the side of caution.
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Old December 23, 2009, 03:23 PM   #18
Mike Irwin
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"Seems to me the only reason anyone would do that would be to eliminate the possibility of tracing the weapon to a crime. I would steer clear..."

Not hard to associate it with a crime... one called Nazi Germany...
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Old December 26, 2009, 12:36 PM   #19
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I pose the question. Would you buy a vehicle with the VIN# tag removed? I think not.
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Old December 26, 2009, 01:13 PM   #20
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You can not use the logic about a rifle is legal if... A rifle and a pistol, as we all know, are two different things and different laws apply to each.

I wonder if I were to purchase a pistol with capture papers that state the serial number has been removed, then steal your pistol of the same make and file the serial numbers off, if it would then be legal?

If this is something you must have, I would check with the BATF and get their take on it. Document who you talked to and what they said. I could not afford the legal risk.
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Last edited by Uncle Buck; December 27, 2009 at 09:52 AM. Reason: forgot to add "not" to the legal risk
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Old December 27, 2009, 02:55 AM   #21
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I'm thinking the BATFE would advise that it was a legal firearm to own, as it is a C & R weapon with the necessary paperwork to document it's lack of a serial number. If the seller has the original copies to provide with the gun, there are copies of it on file, likely on microfilm or microfiche in government records. Or perhaps copied onto a digital database by now, but the paper shown in the pictures is from our government.
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Old December 27, 2009, 09:09 AM   #22
muddinman_04
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Yes, but anyone could have written it on there. Even if it had been written on there and approved for import to the states, my question still stands. Would it be legal to own when the serial number was removed. Like stated before, the current law trumps any capture papers from days past.
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Old December 27, 2009, 11:11 AM   #23
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Serial number filed off...

What acid does the FBI use to reveal filed off serial numbers?
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Old December 27, 2009, 12:50 PM   #24
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Like I said, if the documents are legitimate, they could be verified through DOD files. I don't see Gun Broker allowing a sale that offers a illegal firearm for sale. I realize the seller creates their own auction page, but I doubt that Gun Broker would allow it to remain unless the seller had shown them in some manner that the firearm was legal for sale. Their liability would be too costly to them if it was illegal.
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Old December 27, 2009, 06:38 PM   #25
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Hey Madison

I'm not sure how the FBI does it ut I have seen it done elsewhere.
They use etching acid. A very diluted sulphuric, or heat and photography.
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