Cops called about a Gun I traded in


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I purchased a used firearm from my gun local dealer in early 2005, then traded it in to the same dealer in mid 2007. Well just last week I got a call from the local police asking about that firearm. What I had done with it, since it was recently used in a shooting. Thankfully I had the original purchase receipt of 2005 and also the trade in receipt of 2007. I had to send copies of these to the police department. I shudder to think what may have happened If I had not kept those receipts.

Why would that firearm still show me as the last owner and not show that it was in fact traded in back to the same dealer.

Is this typical, or did the dealer not do something.

Advise would be appreciated.


That's why I'm glad that they don't "register" firearms in FL. Sorry to hear you were hassled but, glad you were prepared.
In Vegas you have to register handguns with the po po. I sold a Ruger to a co-worker who is an elder in the Mormon church and had a clearance as high as mine so I trusted him to register it--especially since I followed him to the po po palace and watched him walk in. After seeing this story I'll be taking my bill of sale to the po po palace to ensure the paper work was completed.
Sounds like the Dealer did something wrong. If you traded it back to an FFl dealer at the time they received the firearm it should have been checked back into their books. Then when sold to a new customer the dealer should have called in for a background check and registered it to the new owner.

You may want to call the dealer and ask what happened.
I have only had my FFL for about 2 years, but here's a quick rundown on how the system works regardless of whether the gun is "registered" anywhere.

Gun Manufacturer makes a gun and sells it to a distributor who sells it to a dealer who can transfer it to another dealer if needed (this can happen multiple times), at some point it is sold to a customer who takes it home and shoots it. Now when I as a dealer get the gun in my inventory, the only record I have is who I got it from and who I sold it to. I don't have the whole chain of owners in my records and neither does anyone else. When you traded it back to the dealer, that transaction was entered again in their record, but 2 years later in the book and likely not anywhere near the first transaction where they sold you the gun. When a gun is used in a crime, the "trace" starts at the manufacturer who tells the cops who they sold the gun to and they continue down the line until they get to the buyer. Now if the buyer no longer has the gun, he needs to be able to tell the cops where that gun went so they can continue their trace. They likely came to the dealer with something like this, "ABC Distributor has record that on 12 March 2005 they transfered such and such a gun with serial number XX12345 to you, can we see your records for that gun." So the dealer looked up the date and found the gun in question and that it was sold to you. Like I said, the record that they received the gun back from you is two years later in their book, so they may have not even realized that particular gun came back. So now the cops come to you looking for this gun and it was very responsible of you to have your records of where it went.

Hopefully that all made sense. Now here's a bit of advice for anyone transferring a gun that they own to anyone else--write down what happened, the date, the person you sold/gave/traded it to, etc so when the cops come down the line you know where to send them and they'll be on their way :)
Then when sold to a new customer the dealer should have called in for a background check and registered it to the new owner.

I don't know how this works in every state, but when I call in a background check, my state agency (UT) only knows whether the customer is purchasing a long gun or a handgun or both, they have no record of the serial number of the gun being purchased. Only the dealer has that record, and see my post above for how that all works :)
I don't know each state or rules for individuals, but I as a dealer must keep my ATF transfer forms and "bound book" record of each firearm transfer forever. Even if I go out of business, those records cannot go away. Our state background check agency only keeps record of my background check calls for a limited time though (can't remember how long). So I guess different records/agencies have different rules on how long the record is kept.
As I understand it, when a FFL goes out of business, the bound books need to be delivered to the ATF. As for individual state records, they vary from state to state.

Back a few years ago when I was dealer-in-arms, I sold a gun to a guy and that gun was involved in an armed robbery. I was working down in St. Croix when BATF came calling. I had to catch a flight back to the states and search my records. I found the sales record and realized I knew the guy I sold the gun to. He was a nice guy, long time friend of the family. His son...not so nice. It was at that time when I took all of my records, forms, log books, etc and ran copies and turned the originals over to BATF. That was back in the day when regulations started changing and everything was being covered in RED duct tape. I admire you FFL holders, as for me. It once was fun, but I can't see ever selling again...
Later - Sam
I'm glad it worked out for you. I have the answer to this problem. Never sell one of your guns! It has worked for me for years :icon_cheesygrin:
If I decided to sell my collection I'm going to have a big yard sale. First come first served unless it's some scumbag. Since there is no law Federal or state law requiring me to keep any record I'm not going to. As long as they are of legal age then I'm selling them. If the ATF comes and ask about any of them I'm just going to tell them I sold it to some one and don't even remember what they look like! :icon_wink:
I sold my Taurus recently and that should hopefully be the last gun I sell. I'm a little more knowledgeable and research more when I buy now.
...first come first served unless it's some scumbag. :icon_wink:

But how do you know? I've got respectable friends who look like scumbags and some scumbag acquaintenances who look respectable. Then there's always my scumbag looking/acting biker friend Larry B who takes great pride in playing the roll...
But how do you know? I've got respectable friends who look like scumbags and some scumbag acquaintances who look respectable. Then there's always my scumbag looking/acting biker friend Larry B who takes great pride in playing the roll...
Just a judgment call. I reserve the right to not sell to anyone. My weapons, my right and my decision. Looking at someones ID won't tell you anything either! Since I have so many weapons I'd probably just have someone come in and auction them off, except for a select few that I'd sell on my own.:icon_wink:
Totally up to you how you want to get rid of your guns. I think the auctioneers allowed to do gun auctions have FFL's, not sure, but I think I saw that somewhere . . . anyway, I'm either keeping my guns or recording where they go so I can send the happy policeman/investigator on his way as quickly as possible :) No need to hold up an investigation at my house.

I appreciate all the feedback, in my city there is no actual gun registration besides the actual purchase at the dealer and of course the FBI check. Makes sense I guess that I would show up a owner at one time when the cops checked, but I would think that if they had sold the gun, after I traded it in.. that transaction should show up also.. I mean I think these days these transactions should be on a computer at the dealer, you know a quick serial number check and it should show it coming and going out, even multiple times.. but by reading thru some of these post it appears these are paper transactions or maybe some type of journal entries.

Still seems a bit strange, that the office asked me what I did with the firearm, anyway he was cool about it and after he got the copies he said thats all he needed.

Lesson learned for me as someone posted above.. keep good records, receipts etc.. because as gun owner for 30+ years this was the first time
this has happened and I've traded over a dozen guns of so over those years.. I'd be hard pressed to find any info on those early ones..


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