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View Poll Results: Hunch it may be stole. Buy/trade for a gun if it were a screaming good deal?
Report to police based on your 'hunch' 1 1.82%
Offer to run the serial number and/or complete bill of sale to see reaction of seller 21 38.18%
Buy or trade for the gun, no questions asked 4 7.27%
Run, don't walk, away from the deal 31 56.36%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 55. You may not vote on this poll

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Old January 10, 2010, 01:18 PM   #1
leadcounsel
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FTF transactions, millions of stolen guns, the law, and you

So, I've browsed many threads on stolen guns. After being a member here for years, it seems many members transact FTF without any records being kept.

After being assured that the other party is a resident, able to own and transfer the gun (not a felon, no domestic violence, etc.) would you buy a gun for a really good deal, or trade one of yours in exhange for said gun, if you suspect that it might be stolen?

Or would you report the person to the law, based on your hunch?

Or would you go run the serial numbers and/or require a bill of sale to see if the other party spooks? And is that a fair assessment considering many legit people don't like paper trails?

I have personally been the victim of stolen handguns... which were replaced by insurance.

I was recently at a gun show and it's clear that many guns there to be traded or sold could be stolen and purchased unwittingly by another person.

On the other hand, why would you treat guns any differently than car tires, a lawnmower, a chainsaw, kitchen knives, a dresser, or a pack of pencils you might buy at a garage sale or on craigslist. You have no idea of the history behind any items, really, and does it really matter if the kitchen table you buy on craigslist was once stolen?

I absolutely don't think that we should have mandatory checks on guns or registration of guns, and I think that state or federal registration would serve to strip people of their property (that was previously stolen) that they may have unwittingly purchased.

Last edited by leadcounsel; January 10, 2010 at 01:30 PM.
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Old January 10, 2010, 01:40 PM   #2
RamSlammer
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I have responded to newspaper and free classified tabloid ads for guns where the sellers sounded hokey and really didn't know much about what they were selling. Always backed out of those situations.

One example I remember . . .

Ad: Colt .45 Good Shape $500 xxx-xxxx

Called seller . . .
Q. Is that a semi-auto or revolver you're selling?
A. Well, it's got a wheel.
Q. Is it .45 ACP or .45 Colt caliber?
A. It's just a plain .45 caliber.
Q. Okay. Have you shot it? How does it work?
A. Sure I've shot it a lot. It works just fine and looks new.
Q. Is it a single or double action?
A. I'm sure it's a double.
Q. Can you open the cylinder and load all the shells at once or do you have to load each one individually through a gate?
A. Ummm. . . . it does both.
Q. How long have you owned the gun?
A. I bought it new last year and paid $600 for it.
Q. Where did you buy it.
A. From a friend of my brother. I don't remember his name.
Q. Okay then would you mind giving me the serial number so I can check out it's type and age?
A. Hmmm. . . It doesn't have one.
Q. Okay where are you located? Can I come by and see it?
A. I'll have to bring it to you.
Q. I'll be shooting at the Sheriff's department range tomorrow can you bring it by there?
A. Uh . . . can I meet you somewhere else?
Q. Where?
A. How 'bout [gives location of a fast food parking lot in a ghetto area].

At that point I told the fellow I'd think about it and call him back if interested.
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Old January 10, 2010, 03:03 PM   #3
orangello
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I purchased a rifle at a gun show from an individual with no real paperwork. He answered my questions reasonably and did ask if i was prohibited from owning a firearm, iirc. He did ask to copy a photo ID in case any questions came up later. If he had seemed shady, i would've passed on it.
I guess my poll choice would be somewhere between option 2 & option 3, depending on circumstances and attitudes.
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Old January 10, 2010, 04:07 PM   #4
gc70
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Quote:
After being assured that the other party is a resident, able to own and transfer the gun (not a felon, no domestic violence, etc.)
This poses a problem. While some states have cards, permits, or licenses that attest to a person's eligibility, most do not. Since individuals don't have NICS access and I doubt that local law enforment agencies will run background checks for individuals, there is no effective way of "being assured" of another person's eligibility.
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Old January 10, 2010, 04:55 PM   #5
raftman
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Even if it doesn't sound shady, I insist on a bill of sale. While I like to think I'd be able to spot a shady deal when I see one, I realize I may not be as smart as I think and criminals may not be as dumb as I'd like them to be. I don't think a bill of sale is all that intrusive and I certainly haven't run into someone who found it objectionable to use one.

I haven't come across any shady characters thus far, but if I did have suspicion that there was something iffy going on, I wouldn't do it, even with a bill of sale. In theory a bill of sale would protect me, but a hassle would still ensue if the gun was discovered has have been stolen 2 or 3 owners ago.
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Old January 10, 2010, 10:01 PM   #6
Lurch37
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I'm with raftman on this one. I also require a bill of sale whether I'm buying or selling from a private individual. This protects me and him to some extent I suppose. Obviously, if the seller or buyer balks at trading info such as Drivers License Number, phone number, address, etc., then I am unlikely to proceed with the transaction. Although not required in a private deal, if the person has a Firearem Purchase Certificate, then that will also help seal the deal so to speak.

I have, on occasion bought firearms from fellow workers without any paper work simply because I have known them for many years and trust them. I do keep a record of those types of buys with simple notes of who, when, how much I paid for my own peace of mind.

A simple phone call to a prospective buyer or seller will reveal many things and can do wonders for making one feel at ease with any transaction.
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Old January 11, 2010, 12:09 AM   #7
209
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In line with this thread-

You either buy or sell a firearm (that you legally can buy or sell through a private sale) and get a bill of sale.

How many years do you keep it?

Is there a certain period of time to use as a "rule of thumb"? I dunno- like the magical 7 years or something?
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Old January 11, 2010, 12:10 PM   #8
psyfly
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I didn't post in the poll.

I'm not sure I'm confident that I have any valid method of determining if a firearm is stolen or not.

I did a search and didn't come up with much I considered useful.

Please, anyone, share an efficient way for us to check.

Thanks,

Will
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Old January 11, 2010, 12:30 PM   #9
CCGS
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When in doubt about a firearm, if you can get the sn, call any local agency, they will run the sn right then. If it comes back stolen, just give them the info on the seller. Tell them upfront that you are looking to buy from an individual. Always do a bill of sale, regardless if your the buyer or seller. There are several templates online, I found one in PDF format that you put what you know and print it out, both parties sign with at least the name & phone # (you got that from the initial contact), at least if the ATF comes looking, you can say...hey, I sold that to so & so. Then they move on.
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Old January 11, 2010, 12:51 PM   #10
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gc70
This poses a problem. While some states have cards, permits, or licenses that attest to a person's eligibility, most do not. Since individuals don't have NICS access and I doubt that local law enforment agencies will run background checks for individuals, there is no effective way of "being assured" of another person's eligibility.
We don't have to "be assured" we have to have no reason to believe otherwise. If I buy a gun from an individual then my responsibility is to not have a reasonable suspicion that there is a problem with the gun or the individual. If I have a reasonable suspicion then I would simply insist on doing the transfer through an FFL.
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Old January 11, 2010, 01:13 PM   #11
Old Grump
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We swap licenses and addresses, I get bill of sale no problem. If he hesitates I ask if he will let me run serial number. I can't but he don't know that. Deal doesn't happen, no problem. On line deals we go through FFL's and we trade names and addresses, if FFL is no big deal to him we have a deal. If he insists on FTF and I don't have a name it is no deal. Simple as that.
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Old January 12, 2010, 08:43 AM   #12
blume357
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I think I've bought over the years something like 35 guns dong a

face to face sale.... out of those I think about 3 or 4 the seller or I did not also fill out a bill of sale.... and I'm about as sure as one can be that those were legitamantly (sp?) owned guns too.
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Old January 12, 2010, 08:59 AM   #13
paull
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Quote:
On the other hand, why would you treat guns any differently than car tires, a lawnmower, a chainsaw, kitchen knives, a dresser, or a pack of pencils you might buy at a garage sale or on craigslist. You have no idea of the history behind any items, really, and does it really matter if the kitchen table you buy on craigslist was once stolen?
This.

I am apparently in the minority here, but if I didn't know you prior to our transaction, I certainly wouldn't after.

I recall a transaction where the buyer or seller asked me for ID (in a fast-food restaurant parking lot)...
I told him that he was welcome to copy down my license plate number when I drove away, if he wished. I have no idea if he did or not, when our business was concluded.

Quote:
if you can get the sn, call any local agency, they will run the sn right then.
This is not universally available. I have many friends in law enforcement, so they will help if I have questions, but this "service" is not for all.

Remember, in many free states, you can't sell to a person you reasonably believe to be prohibited.
That's pretty much it.

p
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Old January 12, 2010, 11:58 AM   #14
Frank Ettin
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One thing to consider, if you buy a gun in a private transaction and if it's been reported stolen and if the authorities find out, you'll (1) lose the gun and be out whatever you paid for it; and (2) you'll have some explaining to do. If you do need to explain yourself, it would be nice to have some documentation of when you bought the gun, how much you paid and from whom you bought it.

It may be that the likelihood of being found with a stolen gun is very small. So if you want to bet on it not happening, that's up to you. But if it does happen, it will at best be an awful nuisance.
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Old January 12, 2010, 12:02 PM   #15
Onward Allusion
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Not worth the possible grief. There are plenty of good deals on firearms out there if you look hard enough.

Quote:
leadcounsel
FTF transactions, millions of stolen guns, the law, and you
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Old January 12, 2010, 10:52 PM   #16
kilimanjaro
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Absent a bill of sale, plan on not only losing the weapon and the purchase price, but being cited or even arrested for possession of stolen property.
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Old January 13, 2010, 09:16 AM   #17
paull
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Quote:
Absent a bill of sale, plan on not only losing the weapon and the purchase price, but being cited or even arrested for possession of stolen property.
Seeing that this is a "gun-board", and most, if not all members are gun-owners...
Let's have a show of hands of all the folks who have had their property confiscated and then were cited or arrested.

I, of course, do expect rare, anecdotal, evidence to support your position.


Quote:
Not worth the possible grief. There are plenty of good deals on firearms out there if you look hard enough.
Exactly!
This is why I would never consider doing anything less than that required by the law.
I maintain that all of the firearms transactions I have ever concluded were absolutely legal.
p

Last edited by paull; January 13, 2010 at 09:17 AM. Reason: speling
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Old January 13, 2010, 10:12 AM   #18
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paull
Quote:
Absent a bill of sale, plan on not only losing the weapon and the purchase price, but being cited or even arrested for possession of stolen property.
Seeing that this is a "gun-board", and most, if not all members are gun-owners...
Let's have a show of hands of all the folks who have had their property confiscated and then were cited or arrested....
I don't know if it's happened, but I do know what the law is. And in general under the law one can not acquire a right of ownership of stolen property.

So if you have bought a gun that has been reported stolen, you don't really own it. The guy from whom is was stolen still owns it. When police find stolen property, they routinely take it as evidence, and it is often ultimately returned to the guy who reported it stolen.

The law also takes a dim view of possessing stolen property. Having stolen property in your possession raises the inference that you either stole it or bought it knowing it was stolen. That kind of makes you a "person of interest", and personally, I'd rather not be one of those. Proper documentation of your innocent acquisition of the stolen item, will usually cause the police to lose interest in you; and I think that's a good thing.
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Old January 13, 2010, 10:54 AM   #19
paull
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The law also takes a dim view of possessing stolen property. Having stolen property in your possession raises the inference that you either stole it or bought it knowing it was stolen. That kind of makes you a "person of interest", and personally, I'd rather not be one of those. Proper documentation of your innocent acquisition of the stolen item, will usually cause the police to lose interest in you; and I think that's a good thing.
I am a HUGE fan of returning stolen property to it's rightful owner.

But, to take your point to it's logical extension, we would be better off with receipts for all of our possessions, and further, keep these receipts handy.

I am not hoping that anyone else would consider following my example.
I'm just throwing out another point of view.

I've always felt that if I am willing to live by a different standard, someone may come along and make that standard the law. I don't see how I gain, were that to happen.

I'd like to see it become common (again) for people to trade their wares without excessive restrictions. Keep in mind that firearms were not required to have identifying numbers until fairly recently.

p
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Old January 13, 2010, 11:01 AM   #20
Brian Pfleuger
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Originally Posted by Paull
I am a HUGE fan of returning stolen property to it's rightful owner.

But, to take your point to it's logical extension, we would be better off with receipts for all of our possessions, and further, keep these receipts handy.

Police will consider your being in possession of a stolen gun to be much more serious than being in possession of a stolen cordless drill. Should it be so? Who cares. It WILL be so.
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Old January 13, 2010, 11:02 AM   #21
BlueTrain
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Millions of stolen guns?
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Old January 13, 2010, 11:15 AM   #22
paull
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Police will consider your being in possession of a stolen gun to be much more serious than being in possession of a stolen cordless drill. Should it be so? Who cares. It WILL be so.
...and so I go on living with that risk. I don't expect you to do the same.
It may seem unlikely, but I am not a complete fool.
I just choose to treat my firearm transactions the same way I would lawn equipment.
If someone offers me a $1500 widgit for $300, I will remain suspicious that the seller may not be the rightful owner, and defer.


fiddletown:
Quote:
I don't know if it's happened, but I do know what the law is. And in general under the law one can not acquire a right of ownership of stolen property.
That remains the law, regardless of the object you may be aquiring.
As said, I follow the law.

p
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Old January 13, 2010, 11:29 AM   #23
Frank Ettin
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Originally Posted by paull
...That remains the law, regardless of the object you may be aquiring.
As said, I follow the law....
And I prefer to follow the law and, in addition, to understand the law and avoid, or at least ameliorate, risks that are a consequence of the law.
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Old January 13, 2010, 11:42 AM   #24
paull
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And I prefer to follow the law and, in addition, to understand the law and avoid, or at least ameliorate, risks that are a consequence of the law.
...of course you do; and probably should. Kudos.

The issue to me is that this seems to twist towards "let's restrict ourselves further that legally necessary to avoid potential risk".
Isn't that what we are trying to avoid in our collective support for the 2nd A?
p
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Old January 13, 2010, 11:53 AM   #25
Frank Ettin
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Originally Posted by paull
...The issue to me is that this seems to twist towards "let's restrict ourselves further that legally necessary to avoid potential risk".
Isn't that what we are trying to avoid in our collective support for the 2nd A?...
Nope -- there's "legal" and there's "good business practice." This really has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment.
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