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Buying A Gun In A Private Sale? Is There a Way to Check If It’s Stolen?


By David Katz

You’re in search of a gun for on a regular basis carry, a shotgun for searching season, or maybe you simply desire a good used gun so as to add to your assortment. You additionally wish to discover a actually whole lot and the gun market is tight proper now. A personal sale may be simply the best way to go.

Federal legislation doesn’t prohibit non-public gross sales between people who reside in the identical state, and the huge majority of states don’t require {that a} non-public sale be facilitated by a federally licensed gun seller (“FFL”). However, the extra you consider it, what would occur to you in case you purchased a gun that turned out to be misplaced or stolen? Even worse, what would occur in case you bought a firearm that had been utilized in against the law?

Unfortunately, these items can occur. Further, there isn’t a sensible approach so that you can guarantee a gun you buy from a stranger just isn’t misplaced or stolen.

FBI Lost and Stolen Gun Database

When a firearm is misplaced or stolen, the proprietor ought to instantly report it to the police. In truth, if a gun is misplaced or stolen from an FFL, the legislation requires the FFL to report the lacking firearm to the ATF. These reported firearms are entered right into a database maintained by the FBI’s National Crime Information Center.

Unfortunately for purchasers in private sales, solely legislation enforcement businesses are allowed to request a search of the misplaced and stolen gun database.

Private Databases

While there have been makes an attempt at creating non-public searchable internet databases what place people self-report their lost or stolen guns, these often include solely a fraction of the variety of precise stolen weapons, and the data just isn’t verifiable.

Some states are exploring or making an attempt to construct a state database of misplaced or stolen firearms that’s searchable by the general public, on-line. For instance, the Florida Crime Information Center maintains a web site what place a person can seek for many stolen or misplaced objects, together with automobiles, boats, private property, and naturally, firearms.

However, even this web site warns:

“FDLE cannot represent that this information is current, active, or complete. You should verify that a stolen property report is active with your local law enforcement agency or with the reporting agency.”

Police Checks of Firearms

Having the native police verify the federal database continues to be essentially the most correct approach of ascertaining whether or not or not a used firearm is misplaced or stolen, however many police departments don’t supply this service. And be forewarned: if the gun does come again as misplaced or stolen, the one who introduced it to the police won’t get it again. The true proprietor all the time has the fitting to have his or her stolen gun returned.

If you select to buy a firearm in a private sale, it’s best to shield your self. A invoice of sale is one of the simplest ways to perform this. If it seems the firearm was stolen or beforehand utilized in against the law, you have to to exhibit to the police if you got here into possession of the firearm and from whom you made the acquisition. You don’t wish to be answering uncomfortable police questions with out documentation to again you up.

On the flip facet, if you’re the one who occurs to be the sufferer of gun theft, make sure to report it after talking with an legal professional. Because whereas it could take multiple years, you by no means know when a police division could also be calling you to return your gun.


David Katz is an unbiased program legal professional for US LawShield. 


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