Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
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    Default Stolen firearms check

    All of us have done it. Found a deal at a yard sale or ran into somebody at the gun show selling a handgun you've been trying to find for years. No big deal. It sits in your collection for years and then you get the itch to get rid of it to fund your next "gotta have one" urge. But when you purchased it, you never properly transferred it at an FFL. Now you go forward with trepidation, because ... what if you actually purchased a stolen firearm?!

    In this day and age, I would never do it that way again, but is there any way for the average person to check if a handgun you have in your collection was ever registered as stolen?

  2. #2
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    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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    Default Re: Stolen firearms check

    There used to be a publicly run website where people willingly put in the serial numbers of guns stolen from them that people could check. It was obviously very incomplete and I don't believe it exists anymore.

    Law enforcement definitely has such a database but I don't think there is any way for the average joe to do a lookup in it.
    Daniel Pehrson, Founder & President, Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Stolen firearms check

    If you have a friend who is a cop ask him to do it. I did it with 2 shotguns. I kind of knew they were clean but I was a little concerned about selling them without being 100%. They came back clean.
    If you dont know anyone go to the local PD and ask them. They will probably do it for you. Just bring the numbers not the gun.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Upper Pottsgrove, Pennsylvania
    (Montgomery County)
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    Default Re: Stolen firearms check

    Quote Originally Posted by Lougotzz View Post
    Just bring the numbers not the gun.
    Oh come one now, walk in there and plop it on the counter, make sure it fully loaded I'm sure that would be greeted with a pair of handcuffs.

  5. #5
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    Sunbury, Pennsylvania
    (Northumberland County)
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    Default Re: Stolen firearms check

    People in the know, protect themselves by transferring with a dealer... Actually if you bought a gun privately, you've broken the law, as had the seller. Anyone not willing to go to a dealer and obey the law should be a sign that something is wrong.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Stolen firearms check

    Quote Originally Posted by The Drew View Post
    People in the know, protect themselves by transferring with a dealer... Actually if you bought a gun privately, you've broken the law, as had the seller. Anyone not willing to go to a dealer and obey the law should be a sign that something is wrong.
    That depends what your buying, in PA an FFL is not required for long guns.
    Daniel Pehrson, Founder & President, Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Stolen firearms check

    Hi all,
    I believe in the initial post, the gentleman made reference to a handgun. Certainly against the law without an FFL.
    Jules

  8. #8
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    Mar 2006
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    Default Re: Stolen firearms check

    Ok well when you by a used handgun and go threw your ffl for transfer is it automatcially checked ?Is that standard procedure?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    City/Town/Rural, Pennsylvania
    (Westmoreland County)
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    Default Re: Stolen firearms check

    The FFL transfers the gun from one owner to a new owner and keeps a record of the transfer. An FFL must be used to transfer a handgun in Pennsylvania. In PA, there is a background check of the new (potential, at this point) buyer. There is no check performed on the gun automatically.

    I have spent a major portion of my adult life buying and selling stuff, occasionally firearms. As much as it hurts to admit it, I have been "officially" been an adult longer than many PaFOA members have been alive. Stolen articles do not have labels indicating that the article is stolen. So there is no way to know that it belongs to some else and is being sold without their permission. Ultimately, you have no liability for purchasing a stolen weapon-or anything else- as long as you can prove that you had no knowledge that the gun was stolen. The easiest way to demonstrate that you have no prior knowledge that an item is stolen is to know the seller. In the absence of a long standing relationship with a seller a copy of their drivers license should suffice when purchasing a long arm without the aid of an FFL. If you do purchase a stolen item and it comes to light you simply provide the authorities with the identity of the seller. They will interview that person next. The item (gun) will be held for evidence and you have recourse against the seller for your loss.

    IANAL=I Am Not An Attorney. Research based on information found on the internet is worth less than the cost of the connection be it dial up or broadband. Check with an attorney who is well versed in firearm law for a definitive answer.
    Never underestimate the value of early training.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Stolen firearms check

    The legality of a non-FFL handgun transfer is a separate issue from the provenance of the handgun itself. There are circumstances the handgun could have been legally transfered sans FFL.

    As far as provenance, as another poster pointed out, you could ask a friendly LEO to run the serial number through NICS. I doubt you'll have any problem if you pose it as a legitimate question, obviously you're concerned about legal compliance which implies you're a concientious citizen. Also, be certain to call their administrative telephone number, not the 911 number. It might be a good idea to have as much seller or source information assembled up front in case it does turn up in the NICS database.

    As far as "registration", firearms aren't officially registered in the context of automobile, that is, tied to a specific person for accountability. That said, there is a nagging issue with the PA State Police retaining handgun transfer records in apparent defiance of Harrisburg. How they plan to use this data is another matter, but officially they aren't supposed to be doing it.

    With long guns, the transfer form is not supposed to be completed with details. The state has no idea whether the buyer is receiving a Ruger red label shotgun, an AK, AR-15, collectible Winchester 94, a Remington rolling block, or a single shot .22 rifle.

    Click here to see the bottom of PA State form SP-113 you would fill out when you buy a gun. Note the passage:
    "Does this purchase involve a pistol or revolver with a barrel length of less than 15 inches, a shotgun with a barrel length of less than 18 inches, a rifle with with a barrel length than 16 inches, or a firearm with an overall length of less than 26 inches?" (yes-complete blocks... NO-information not required)

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