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Old September 21, 2012, 05:41 PM   #1
jasmith85
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Question regarding transferring a gun

This may be a very dumb question but I rarely buy guns via a private sale and am hoping someone here can answer this for me. I'm thinking about buying a handgun from a guy I work with but I don't want to take any chances on the gun being stolen so I would like to get the gun transferred. My question is, in order to transfer a handgun do I have to have the last person a background check was ran on there to transfer it to me? The guy I'll be buying from bought it from someone else in a private sale so he is not the most recent person a background check was ran on for the gun. Does that matter or as long as its not flagged stolen can a gun be transferred no matter who is selling it?
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Old September 21, 2012, 07:33 PM   #2
Powderman
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If you're worried about the possibility of a stolen gun, give a call to your local police department. They should be able to run the serial number of the gun, and find out if it's been reported as stolen.

Now, not to jack the thread, but a general message to my fellow shooters:

The single most important thing you can do as a gun owner is to have a record of your serial numbers. It is the ONLY thing that will re-unite you with a stolen firearm if it becomes stolen.

Once reported, the serial numbers of stolen guns are entered into the records system, and they NEVER are removed--unless the gun is recovered.

Just saying.....
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Old September 21, 2012, 08:06 PM   #3
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasmith85
This may be a very dumb question but I rarely buy guns via a private sale and am hoping someone here can answer this for me. I'm thinking about buying a handgun from a guy I work with but I don't want to take any chances on the gun being stolen so I would like to get the gun transferred. My question is, in order to transfer a handgun do I have to have the last person a background check was ran on there to transfer it to me? The guy I'll be buying from bought it from someone else in a private sale so he is not the most recent person a background check was ran on for the gun. Does that matter or as long as its not flagged stolen can a gun be transferred no matter who is selling it?
I see you are in Tennessee, and I'm not, so I don't know just what "transferred" means to you. To me it means running the sale through an FFL, who will verify that the buyer is not a prohibited person and who will handle taking a Form 4473 for posterity. Really, all that accomplishes is to verify that you can legally buy the gun -- presumably, you already know that. I'm not sure how that would provide any additional security to you that the gun was not stolen 'X' number of owners ago. A background check on a buyer is a background check on the buyer, not a check on the firearm.

Unless Tennessee is very different from my state.

By the way, most police departments will not run a serial number check for you, because it's not in connection with an official investigation and, therefore, it's technically a violation for them to access any official database for you. Some departments or officers may do that for you, but they aren't supposed to (or so I've been told on more than two occasions).
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Old September 22, 2012, 01:04 PM   #4
jasmith85
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I see you are in Tennessee, and I'm not, so I don't know just what "transferred" means to you. To me it means running the sale through an FFL, who will verify that the buyer is not a prohibited person and who will handle taking a Form 4473 for posterity. Really, all that accomplishes is to verify that you can legally buy the gun -- presumably, you already know that. I'm not sure how that would provide any additional security to you that the gun was not stolen 'X' number of owners ago. A background check on a buyer is a background check on the buyer, not a check on the firearm.
That is basically what I am meaning but I guess Tennessee's system is different from your state because it also runs a check on the gun. I know this because I tried buying a used Colt Commander at a store in Nashville back in the summer and the sale was refused because the gun came back stolen. The store owner said he ran a check on it when he took it in trade but apparently between then and when I tried to buy it it was reported as stolen. That situation is actually the reason I have become so worried about making sure a gun has a clear history before I buy it.
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Old September 22, 2012, 03:21 PM   #5
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasmith85
That situation is actually the reason I have become so worried about making sure a gun has a clear history before I buy it.
But apparently running it through a dealer WON'T make you sure that it's not stolen. If it can show up as stolen after a gun shop takes it in but before they can sell it, it can show up as stolen after you buy it.

Seems to me the only way to be 100 percent certain is to either buy only new firearms, or to buy from a person you know who was the original owner.
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Old September 22, 2012, 06:56 PM   #6
9mm1033
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I've purchased two firearms from private owners exactly as you described. Here in Ohio, both being residents of the same state (I haven't a clue if it's legal in TN) we wrote out a receipt/bill of sale. Check a drivers license for ID verification (if they refuse, abort the sale) and write down name, address, drivers license number, date of sale, type of gun sold/bought, the serial number, etc. Both sign it and you save your copy as long as you own the gun. If ATF knocks on your door wanting info on that gun you just bought/sold, you have a signed receipt. It's CYA! You really need to research gun selling/private owner purchases laws of TN.
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Old September 22, 2012, 07:03 PM   #7
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 9mm1033
I've purchased two firearms from private owners exactly as you described. Here in Ohio, both being residents of the same state (I haven't a clue if it's legal in TN) we wrote out a receipt/bill of sale. Check a drivers license for ID verification (if they refuse, abort the sale) and write down name, address, drivers license number, date of sale, type of gun sold/bought, the serial number, etc. Both sign it and you save your copy as long as you own the gun....
That's all helpful for a variety of reasons, but it doesn't completely protect you if the gun you bought was previously reported stolen.

It will all help keep you from being implicated in the theft, but you will still lose the gun. You can't acquire ownership of stolen property.
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Old September 22, 2012, 08:36 PM   #8
Powderman
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Once again...

You can contact your local police department with the gun's serial number. Explain that you want to make sure that the firearm is not stolen before you buy it.

The serial number will be checked via what we call "Triple-I" (Interstate identification Index).

The check usually only takes a minute. If a gun has been stolen, AND if the serial number was included in the police report ANYWHERE in the United States, the gun will appear in the data base.

It doesn't cost a penny to do it, and most departments will readily assist you in doing this.
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Old September 22, 2012, 11:56 PM   #9
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However,if the gun gets a "hit" as stolen, the department running the check will need to have the gun in hand so they can return the gun to the rightful owner, at some point in time. If they can't return the gun, they have a heap of explaining to do.
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Old September 23, 2012, 12:14 AM   #10
dorc-1
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If it's a guy you work with, what's the problem? They have payroll records at work, so why insult the guy? Just have him give you a bill of sale. If he was the original owner, just have him write that on the bill of sale and sign it. If not, then just have the police do a stolen gun check to protect yourself before buying.
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Old September 23, 2012, 07:33 AM   #11
Pistolgripshotty
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IDK about private sells, I frown on them especially a handgun
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Old September 23, 2012, 09:56 PM   #12
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Let's assume
a) you live in a state where private sales are allowed and
b) it is stolen.
Moral and ethical issues aside, so what?

The only time the SN will be run through "the system" is if you commit a crime, as a compliant US citizen you "register" via some executive order or the ATF is going door-to-door confiscating now illegal guns.

Having a stolen weapon will be small potatoes at that point.

Now, addressing the moral and ethical side ...

No one of decent moral character wants to be the recipient of illl-gotten booty. However, if you purchase from some one you trust and know, then you have done due diligence (as a private citizen) in researching if the gun has a clean history.

YVMV
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Old September 23, 2012, 10:51 PM   #13
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitchntx
...The only time the SN will be run through "the system" is if you commit a crime,...
Not necessarily. There may be other circumstances in which the serial number might be checked. And in many ways the practical concern is that if you are found with a stolen gun, even if it's absolutely clear that you came by it honestly and innocently, the gun will be taken from you to be returned to the rightful owner; and you will be out the money you paid for it.
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Old September 24, 2012, 05:11 AM   #14
mitchntx
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There may be other circumstances in which the serial number might be checked
I'm curious ... what oher circumstances?

A couple more might be ...

an insurance claim comes to mind.

Even so, the odds of purchasing a stolen gun and then having any of the reasons stated for having a gun checked have to be pretty remote.

And having one checked in any of the circumstances above, losing a few hundred dollars on a purchase will be way down the list of things to worry about.

A couple of assumptions in my thoughts ... the buyer is a person of decent moral character and purchases from a reasonably reliable source.

If the buyer is a meth head and the seller is selling out of the window of a van as he drives by, then the odds go down significantly.
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Old September 24, 2012, 01:42 PM   #15
jasmith85
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Not necessarily. There may be other circumstances in which the serial number might be checked. And in many ways the practical concern is that if you are found with a stolen gun, even if it's absolutely clear that you came by it honestly and innocently, the gun will be taken from you to be returned to the rightful owner; and you will be out the money you paid for it.
This is specifically why it makes me nervous. The gun I was looking at buying was going to cost me $800 and if by some small chance it did have to be checked for some reason and came up stolen I don't want to lose that money which I would. Also, its not that I don't trust my coworker. My problem is I don't know the guy he bought it from or the guy that person bought it from and so on. I decided not to purchase the gun just in case. I think I'm going to stick with my buy new philosophy.
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Old September 24, 2012, 05:17 PM   #16
laytonj1
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You can contact your local police department with the gun's serial number. Explain that you want to make sure that the firearm is not stolen before you buy it.
The one time I attempted to do this they required that I personnally bring the gun to the police station first. If it did turn out stolen they would have confiscated it.
Different cities, different rules.

Jim
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Old September 24, 2012, 06:00 PM   #17
Frank Ettin
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Originally Posted by laytonj1
...they required that I personnally bring the gun to the police station first. If it did turn out stolen they would have confiscated it.....
What would you expect? If the guns was stolen, it still belonged to the guy it was stolen from, i. e., the last legal owner.
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Old September 25, 2012, 05:05 PM   #18
laytonj1
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What would you expect? If the guns was stolen, it still belonged to the guy it was stolen from, i. e., the last legal owner.
That was my point. I could not simply call them and find out over the phone, as the other poster suggested could be done.

Jim
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Old September 25, 2012, 07:49 PM   #19
Powderman
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I can see where a misunderstanding occurred--I should have been a bit more clear.

Yes, you do have to take the firearm in and have an officer run the serial number. Yes, if the gun came back as stolen the gun would be retained.

Running the firearm's serial number through III is the definitive answer. However, there is another way...

There are a number of websites (such as hotgunz.com) that will tell you if a gun is in their database. It is nowhere as definitive as the Triple-I check, but at least you would be checking the serial number against a database--if that's what you're aiming to do.
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