Over the years I have bought, sold, traded, and carried a number of firearms. Some of them I purchased from gun stores and other deals were done through private parties. About 8 years ago I started checking serial numbers before taking possession of any firearms, however, what I didn’t do was consider checking the S/N’s of any of the others I already had. I know I should have been doing this all along and if I had, I would have avoided this situation along with the risks involved with it.
Sometime between November of 1996 and November of 1999 I purchased a handgun from a guy who I had met as a regular customer in an establishment I used to shoot pool in. I didn’t really know the guy but others who frequented the joint and worked there did and they all said he was “cool.” I went to the guys house, handed him the cash, and walked out the door with the gun. Being the naive youngster that I was, the thought never crossed my mind to check anything.
(Fast forward 10-14 years)
The gun in question has been sitting in a vault in another state for a number of years. It was just brought to Vegas where I promptly decided to register it for a blue card and was considering selling it. At this point I realized I had never checked the S/N and decided to do so. This is where things got interesting…
I called the County Sheriff where the gun had been obtained and stored and asked them to check the S/N. The reply I got was not the one I expected:
“I’m sorry sir but I can not discuss what we have on file about this firearm. What I can tell you is that if you know where it is or can put us in touch with who has it, we would appreciate it.”
They would not confirm that it was stolen but what else could it be? I thanked her for her time and hung up.
“WTF do I do now?” That’s the question that nagged at me so I decided to search Google to see what others, in the same situation, had done. Truth be told, I could find no solid procedure for turning in a potentially stolen gun. What I did find were a number of stories where people were arrested for possessing them. As a person who is trying to do the right thing, this did not exactly make me feel comfortable about showing up at the Police Station with a gun that is most likely stolen.
The way I see it, turning in a stolen gun is better than risking being “caught” with a it. I put the gun in a case and headed to the police station.
As it turns out, turning in a stolen gun is a very easy and risk free thing to do as long as you have the right to possess a gun in the first place. They ran the gun in question and it was stolen so away it went along with my investment. They then asked me to fill out a “Voluntary Statement” detailing how I received the firearm.
I’m not all that concerned with the financial loss as I chalk it up to a valuable lesson learned. If anything, I’m very relieved to be rid of the gun, without being charged with a felony, and happy to have the opportunity to share my experience with others.
As I mentioned towards the beginning of this entry, I’ve been vigilant in checking S/N’s for the past several years. I’ve also made sure to have written receipts and such for any and all firearm purchases/trades and encourage everybody to do the same to avoid potential problems that could cost you your right to own a firearm and/or your freedom.
Here is a Bill of Sale form that you can use to keep track of things and collect info on who you obtain firearms from or trade/sell them to.
Overall I am happy with the outcome of this situation. I’m posting this information in hopes of reassuring others that, if you find you have a stolen firearm in your possession, it’s OK to turn it over to the police. If it were my gun, I would hope somebody else would do the same as I have done. Not only as a form of closure but also so I could possibly recover the firearm and know that it is not “out on the streets” being used to commit any crimes.