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Old January 12, 2018, 11:24 AM   #1
KyJim
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Should BATF maintain a public database of serial numbers of stolen guns?

What do you all think about the BATF releasing specific serial numbers of guns reported to be stolen? This would allow a central database where anybody could determine if a gun were stolen before buying it. Obviously, this would not deter criminals from knowingly purchasing stolen firearms, but it would protect innocent buyers and help at least some victims in recovering their property.

BATF would probably also have to scrub the data when a firearm is recovered or, at least, issue another report listing serial numbers of guns recovered so that the public could cross-reference the two databases.

I thought of this when I learned that BATF offers rewards for guns stolen, at least guns stolen from dealers. For example, the BATF has offered a $2,500 reward, which the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is matching, in the break-in and theft of 40 to 50 firearms from Whittaker Guns in the western part of my state (Kentucky). http://www.thegleaner.com/story/news...on/1022640001/ (note that the reference to West Louisville is an unincorporated area and is nowhere close to the Louisville metro area).

A Google search shows the BATF offering rewards a number of times. I think it is probably one of the few things every responsible gun owner can applaud the BATF for. Another might be the database of specific serial numbers of stolen guns.
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Old January 12, 2018, 11:57 AM   #2
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In theory it seems like a good idea but in reality, getting 50 different states and individuals to comply in a timely manner seems like it would be a doomed project. How many horror stories have we heard about people trying to get off the no fly list. Not exactly the same but I think the results would be.
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Old January 12, 2018, 12:39 PM   #3
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There is such a data base. But currently only LE personal can access it. I've called a cop friend a couple of times and had him run the numbers on used firearms I'd purchased just for piece of mind.

Not all LE officers will do this and it varies by each department. I don't know if it is a law, or department policy, but my friend made it clear that if the gun came back as stolen he would be at my door ASAP to get the gun. Said he could get in trouble if he ran a number that came back stolen and he could not produce the gun. Normally he would only do so if the gun were in his hand.

I don't know how difficult it would be to allow public access to this data, nor why it isn't already available. I'd think it would be great for pawn shops or dealers who buy and sell used guns.

I have many LE friends and I know of several websites that they use to track criminal activity with lists of outstanding warrants, convictions, past history, etc., that are available to anyone. But most people aren't aware of them. You can learn a lot about your friends and neighbors if you know where to look.
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Old January 12, 2018, 12:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmr40
...public access to this data... would be great for pawn shops or dealers who buy and sell used guns.
FWIW it's my impression that a lot of shops already have access under agreements with local LE.

I recently traded a pistol at a pawn shop, and they actually made me initial a disclaimer stating that the serial number would be sent to the local PD, a copy of my ID would also be sent if the gun came back stolen, and that the shop could not be held responsible for any consequences that may arise from this.
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Old January 12, 2018, 01:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jag2
In theory it seems like a good idea but in reality, getting 50 different states and individuals to comply in a timely manner seems like it would be a doomed project. How many horror stories have we heard about people trying to get off the no fly list. Not exactly the same but I think the results would be.
+1. The key is that any such list is inevitably going to have a lot of false entries and bad information in it. Before acting on any "hit" from the list, an LE agency is going to conduct an investigation that should uncover bogus or outdated information in many cases (e.g. the theft report is 20 years old, and a quick phone call to the originating agency reveals that the gun was actually recovered 15 years ago and legitimately resold). However, a private individual or company acting on information from the list is not necessarily going to exercise the same degree of care.
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Old January 12, 2018, 01:07 PM   #6
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Ha ha ha ha ha.
Yea, sure, I want a Federal agency running a stolen gun database that, based on their current abilities to track fast and furious guns, catch people trying to sell a weapon to someone who admits they’re a felon, and is subject to political pressure du jur to start a gun registry for (“just”) stolen guns.

Yea, right.
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Old January 12, 2018, 01:11 PM   #7
tony pasley
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Sounds good in theory but reality of government means it would be a total nightmare in the end.
example
I was renewing a clearance one year sent off all paper work, 3 weeks late 6 armed agents showed up to arrest me for warrants except I was not the person they were looking for. Some one inverted my S.S.# in the data base. Mine was easy to prove because I did not meet physical description of who they wanted.
There are just way to many examples of errs, not reporting ect.
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Old January 12, 2018, 01:14 PM   #8
KyJim
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There is such a data base. But currently only LE personal can access it
I'm aware of this (work with a law enforcement agency). I'm just thinking it might help to make it public.

Quote:
+1. The key is that any such list is inevitably going to have a lot of false entries and bad information in it. Before acting on any "hit" from the list, an LE agency is going to conduct an investigation that should uncover bogus or outdated information in many cases (e.g. the theft report is 20 years old, and a quick phone call to the originating agency reveals that the gun was actually recovered 15 years ago and legitimately resold). However, a private individual or company acting on information from the list is not necessarily going to exercise the same degree of care.
Valid point but an error, at worst, would kill the sale. The seller could then see about getting the error corrected.
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Old January 12, 2018, 03:02 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by KyJim
Valid point but an error, at worst, would kill the sale. The seller could then see about getting the error corrected.
No, at worst it could generate a call to the local gendarmes, who might then dispatch the SWAT team to arrest the hapless seller for possession of a stolen firearm. And this could happen even if the database entry turned out to be erroneous, either a number transposition or the gun was recovered and lawfully resold.

Thanks, but no thanks.
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Old January 12, 2018, 08:05 PM   #10
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I think this information should be available to the public in some way that would not get the police involved in an aggressive manner. Off hand, I am not sure how to set that up. It would take some careful planning to implement it. Without such information, then I am certain that an occasional stolen gun is occasionally taken in and resold by an otherwise legitimate business, or places like Gunbroker.com. I would like that to stop so that the market for stolen guns would be reduced.

The state of Oregon seems to have worked this out pretty well. (You can google that.) I don't see why other states cannot do it.

Last edited by cjwils; January 12, 2018 at 08:10 PM.
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Old January 12, 2018, 08:18 PM   #11
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Ha ha ha ha ha.
Yea, sure, I want a Federal agency running a stolen gun database that, based on their current abilities to track fast and furious guns, catch people trying to sell a weapon to someone who admits they’re a felon, and is subject to political pressure du jur to start a gun registry for (“just”) stolen guns.

Yea, right.
I AGREE!

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Old January 12, 2018, 10:20 PM   #12
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More info regarding my comment above about Oregon. The following quote is from this web site: http://www.oregon.gov/osp/id/pages/fics.aspx. I added underlining.

"The Firearms Unit [of the Oregon State Police] is responsible for processing stolen gun checks against the stolen weapons files in LEDS and NCIC for the dealers and any private citizen requesting this service. There is no fee for processing the stolen gun checks. To check a firearm against the stolen record files, call 1-800-432-5059, or any Oregon State Police office."

I think any gun buyer in the country should be able to do this.
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Old January 12, 2018, 11:32 PM   #13
Aguila Blanca
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^^^ What happens if I, as a prospective buyer, call in a serial number and the database says it's a stolen firearm?
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Old January 13, 2018, 01:18 AM   #14
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^^^ I don't know. I don't live in Oregon. I hope someone can tell us.
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Old January 13, 2018, 08:48 AM   #15
Tom Servo
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BATF would probably also have to scrub the data when a firearm is recovered or, at least, issue another report listing serial numbers of guns recovered so that the public could cross-reference the two databases.
This is the big sticking point. Consider the FBI tracing system. Regardless of the reason, any gun submitted for a trace is considered a crime gun. Guns are traced for all sorts of reasons that have no relation to crime. As far as I know, once the trace is initiated, the gun always remains in a database as a crime gun.

Now, that's handled by the FBI, who are known for their competence and professionalism. Unfortunately, the BATFE does not have that record. They can't even keep a reliable or accurate registry of machine guns.

I just don't see any good coming from this.
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Old January 13, 2018, 01:12 PM   #16
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Not a good idea...

Sure, let's give an overworked, underfunded, and frequently despised Federal agency even MORE to do! That's a good idea, right??

I realize that it sounds like a good idea, but there are at least two things you aren't taking into account. The first is the GIGO principle (garbage in, garbage out) meaning that the performance of the system is limited by the quality of the data. And the second thing is the law of unintended consequences.

Both of these will act to make the proposed system difficult to work accurately, and ultimately turn it into something much different from what was originally envisioned.

Think it will be easy to fix errors in the data once its in such a system? I think that's overly optimistic. The CORRECT data might not even be in the police files, computer, or paper!

I recall hearing about a case from a few years ago, where a fellow had to defend himself against the charge of having a stolen gun. IIRC, Ultimately he was cleared, because his gun was bought new, from a dealer, and he had the paper train to prove it. But it still took time, and multiple meetings with police, etc. The gun in question was a S&W .38, ser# xxxxxxx.

Which was all the information the police had, that a S&W, cal .38, ser#xxxxxx had been reported stolen. The innocent owner's gun was the same make, caliber, and serial number as the one reported stolen. It was, however a different model gun with a different barrel length.

The police had information, but not enough information, in their records. There are guns out there with the same serial numbers. Some are even the same caliber. It has happened, and WILL happen again, especially in a computerized system fed bits of data from all over the country, with NO WAY to check the validity of said data, short of a time consuming, and expensive investigation of every piece of data entered!

This isn't just a "minor flaw" that is "easily fixed". One of the worst cases of unintended consequences has already been mentioned. SWAT team coming to "visit" you because the system sad you had a stolen gun.

When some adrenaline amped kid just a few years past his Academy graduation, wearing body armor and a machinegun, guns you down in your front yard, because he thought you made a "furtive movement", who benefits??? Your heirs?? MAYBE, but maybe not. After all, the officer was just doing his job, etc...

No, I have to put the idea of yet another Fed gun database, even one "open to the public" as a poor idea. Best of intentions, certainly, but all to easy for it to become something with bad results.
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Old January 13, 2018, 05:42 PM   #17
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Instead of a lot of negative speculation, I hope we can hear from someone who actually knows how they handle these concerns in Oregon, where I understand that a stolen gun check is now required on every legal gun transfer, including between private parties.
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Old January 13, 2018, 10:01 PM   #18
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Can anyone call that 1800 number in Oregon?
Just asking
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Old January 14, 2018, 07:48 AM   #19
Don P
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Quote:
Sure, let's give an overworked, underfunded, and frequently despised Federal agency even MORE to do! That's a good idea, right??

I realize that it sounds like a good idea, but there are at least two things you aren't taking into account. The first is the GIGO principle (garbage in, garbage out) meaning that the performance of the system is limited by the quality of the data. And the second thing is the law of unintended consequences.
Could not agree more. What happens when a number or letter is transposed and your gun which is legal now becomes a crime/stolen gun because of human error??????
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Old January 15, 2018, 06:37 PM   #20
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What if there was a cross reference to the original police report so the serial number could be checked? Although there's no double backup if the number written in the police report is wrong.
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