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Old February 9, 2013, 04:37 AM   #1
Join Date: January 13, 2009
Posts: 63
Used gun history

Hypothetical question, if I'm buying a gun from a friend I've known for a number of years it doesn't go through NICS. The gun however is older, say a S & W .357 made around 1970, so it has been through a number of hands before NICS even started, how do I know it hasn't been stolen at some point in its history?
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Old February 9, 2013, 05:07 AM   #2
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Not a NICS issues

NICS does not check to see if a weapon is stolen, only to see if you are a proper person to own a firearm. If you are concerned your firearm may have been stolen, you can take it to your local LEOs, and they can check to see if it has been reported stolen. I would call ahead first, to make sure they will run the check.
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Old February 9, 2013, 12:04 PM   #3
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After doing a little more research it appears that even if a gun is reported stolen, there is no single source for finding that out. So, correct if I'm mistaken, but I could go to my LGS in say Utah, find a Browning HP made in the 50's, buy it going through the check system, and it could have been reported stolen back in the late 60's in another distant state, Maine maybe and you wouldn't know?
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Old February 9, 2013, 12:48 PM   #4
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If you do decide, as suggested above, to take the pistol to local LE to run an an NCIC check on it, please do yourself a favor: Call ahead and ask permission. I don't know exactly where you are, but around here, showing up unannounced at the PD with a gun in hand can lead to trouble.
I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. If you need some honest-to-goodness legal advice, go buy some.
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Old February 9, 2013, 12:58 PM   #5
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Also, realize that many times, the police won't run a check unless they have the gun in-hand. Which means that most likely, if it does come back stolen, it's going to be confiscated right away while the rightful owner is tracked down.
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Old February 9, 2013, 01:05 PM   #6
Join Date: January 13, 2009
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I haven't bought anything I'm concerned about, just a hypothetical that I've thought about with all the recent hystaria.
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Old February 9, 2013, 01:14 PM   #7
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There is an additional drawback to checking to see if a gun was stolen. And that is the state of the records that are going to be checked.

First off, there is no way any database can be considered all inclusive, as we have been having firearms stolen for as long as we have had firearms, and even if there was some requirement for all state & local jurisdictions to send the information to a central database, how could it include thefts reported prior to the "modern era"?

Second, and possibly more important to us as individual owners, the records of stolen gun are hardly complete or fully accurate.

Consider this example, a record states that J.Brown reported the theft of a pistol, caliber .38, S&W, Ser#12345 in 1976. In 2013 you go to check the pistol you want to buy from your friend, and find out it matches the record. But your friend bought his gun new in 1997!! How can this be?

It can happen, because significant other identifying information was left out of the original report. The stolen gun was a model 10, your friend's gun is a model 36, which just happens to have the same serial number. Sound far fetched? Sure. But it could happen, and likely already has.

Many firearms makers have used identical blocks of serial numbers, on different models of guns, over the years.

The database of people convicted of disqualifying crimes is far from complete or accurate, and this is well known by anyone who knows the system. Yet, this system is considered infallible by our politicians, and used as the basis for their demands for universal background checks!
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Old February 9, 2013, 01:49 PM   #8
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A friend of mine was caught speeding after a Highpower Rifle Match. His AR15 was in the back of the car and the Cop called the serial number in to check to see if it was stolen.

The serial number was an alpha-numeric number, like 121-C-4A15. The cop called in the numbers only “121415” because the “serial number is a number”.

At least seven guns with numbers identical had been reported stolen.

My bud spent the night in jail, and had a court appearance weeks later, hundreds of miles away, to get his rifle back. Cost him several days at work and attorney fees.

There is risk in assuming that the Police are competent enough to type in a serial number in a data base and get the right answer.

I would stay the heck away from any Police Department based on the number of reports of people getting arrested for mistaken identity. Their ID check of you might result in you going to jail for months at a time. The LA Times said “The errors are so common that in some years people were jailed because of mistaken identity an average of once a day”
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Last edited by Slamfire; February 9, 2013 at 02:00 PM.
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Old February 12, 2013, 09:32 AM   #9
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If you Google it, you will find a couple of stolen gun databases out there.
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