Webpage for recovering stolen guns
Very interesting idea. If a gun is stolen, the victim sends in the data. It is not posted online, and in the database is encrypted with 256-bit encryption. If someone wants to sell you a gun, you can run it. If there is a match, victim and finder are both notified. There's also a provision for posting a reward.
I know a few FFLs who have "connections" with the local police dep't and, off the record, have them run a gun if it is offered for sale. But you need a special connection, and the NCIC database is terribly unreliable. I'd expect a gun owner to be more precise with the serial number than would be a data entry clerk taking a telephone report.
...Uh, former gun owner, as his gun is now gone. So he relies on the scrap of paper he wrote it down on, or the records of the person/dealer he bought it from. Flaws and flubs are built into the system. Especially with S&W revolvers that have a frame and model number stamped on them. How many stolen guns will be listed using their model number as their serial number ? DMV yearly tries to register vehicles by their firing order as their VIN number. Americans move all the time. How you gonna get back to the "owner" of the stolen gun when he changes jobs , changes email and his real address and doesn't update it with this database ? Happens all the time with DMV records. And who's job is it to go looking for the guy while the sale goes stale ?
Posted by: Dave Dudley at January 4, 2009 12:42 PM
Not sure I want to be a registered gun owner. Who are these people? One might assume that if I had one stolen that I might have others. Florida Dept of Law Enforcement has a site to search for stolen gun serial numbers. Only searchs FCIC. Don't have a clue how well it works, but you don't have to give any ID information.
Posted by: Chuck at January 4, 2009 12:49 PM
Yep, I share Dave's concerns about the quality of the information the folks put into the system (GIGO). I also see quite a potential for abuse: Just insert some random serial numbers to inconvenience honest folks. Add enough junk data and folks will ignore the site completely.
Posted by: Blake Sobiloff at January 4, 2009 01:34 PM
This goes to the point that firearms have been forced into a paradox. As a gun owner, I don't want to have to register them, yet I consider them to be part of my wealth. If stolen are they more like a bicycle, a Krugerrand or a car? That is, are they fungible or are they property?
The only reason I really care about having my firearms stolen is because the State will punish me (even if it is just an investigation) if it is used in a crime. In reality, I'll go out and replace it.
Krugerrands have higher, redeemable value, but no serial numbers because the base metal is most of the value and when melted down, they are indistinguishable. A bicycle, even if registered, is almost never recovered and easily replaced. But a firearm is haunted by the serial number. It is easily replaced, but regulated so that it is not fungible, is traceable, but are only distinguishable from like kind by their serial numbers.
If firearms did not have serial numbers, if bullets weren't serialized, if microstamping wasn't done, what would the net effect be on solving a crime? I'm betting it would be a small impact and that would reveal the true intent of serialization and registration as harassment instead of crime fighting.
Posted by: Jim D. at January 4, 2009 01:37 PM
Dunno Blake. I can see where something like this would be extremely useful. I emailed the people at the site and they tell me that someone who searches, in order to find a serial number match, must enter the serial number exactly as it was submitted by the person who legally owns the weapon. it must match exactly. sounds pretty safe to me. so if some goon submitted a bunch of bogus serial numbers/weapons, well, who would search for those bogus numbers exactly as he/she submitted them? pretty much impossible. i just see this very useful for people buying a gun or in the sell/trade business. i'm not sure if they've decided for sure that you have to login to search. i think just to submit a weapon but i could be wrong.
Posted by: Jeff at January 4, 2009 02:08 PM
Well, if I was fencing stolen guns cheap enough or outright stealing guns, I would just break them up, throw the serial numbered receiver in the river, and sell the parts on ebay and gunbroker. Gun parts are always big sellers at gunshows, too. I know I have often walked around gunshows looking for a hard to find part for this or that obscure or out of production firearm.
Posted by: Letalis Maximus, Esq. at January 4, 2009 02:48 PM
..Lemme tell you a true story from the 1960's. A Glendale, Ca. company making pistols would inspect the receiver castings before numbering or assembly and throw any blemished ones in a bin for remelting. Employee's would steal these, stamp a number on the frame and build them with stolen parts. They sold them on the side.
...I ran a police positive revolver ser. number and it came back as destroyed by a PD. So I called them and talked to the Lt. who tossed it in the furnace himself. The only difference between the one in my hand and the one he destroyed was the barrel length and a slight difference in the wording on the barrel. Great monsterous masses of handguns have been made from all countries and shipped here. Lugers use the same 4 digits over and over and give a small letter prefix to distinguise the difference. Do you think these are recorded correctly by the averge Joe? Or copied correctly by the average cop who may never have ever seen a luger ? Moisin Nagant rifles serialized the bolt, the magazine floorplate, the reciever and the serial number on some models. 18 million were made. The parts are interchangeable and most are mixed. Which one did the owner use to report as stolen ?
...Like most simplistic ideas, it's a great theory but devilishly difficult to do right. The morons who want to require taggants, or serialize bullets, would think this a peachy idea.
Posted by: Dave Dudley at January 4, 2009 04:57 PM
I think what they are trying to do most likely is just make a dent in things you know? there's no way anyone can stop thieves but i can see how this site could possibly do some good for a lot of people. it's free and it's worth it i think. i registered mine cause it was easy and whatnot. who knows, may not mean a thing but won't hurt to try.
Posted by: Jeff at January 4, 2009 05:15 PM
so if some goon submitted a bunch of bogus serial numbers/weapons, well, who would search for those bogus numbers exactly as he/she submitted them?
Actually, anyone even halfway competent with web searching will be able to come up with blocks of serial numbers, as buyers, sellers, and collectors are always asking questions about when # nnnnnnxx was mfrd. Typically, people will list all but the last 2 digits (the xx) so they don't specifically identify a particular gun, but if you're looking to poison the database, hey, that's only at most, 100 possible numbers to use.
Information such as this isn't hard to come by. I hope they're doing something there to defeat submissions by bots.
Posted by: jed at January 4, 2009 07:11 PM
i know there is that image verification stuff when you sign up to defeat the bots. not sure about submitting a weapon but i'm sure if spamming became a problem they may deal with that. i guess what they could do is have something in there that let people know before they submitted something that their ip and some other info is logged for security purposes. who knows.
Posted by: Jeff at January 4, 2009 07:29 PM
We are absolutley not out to make some sort of firearms registry. Im simply a guy who had a gun stolen and wasnt satisfied with the options available to me to present my information. The internet is scattered with stolen guns posted in all types of hunting and shooting forums, I just didnt feel like that my gun would get any more exposure than any given forums usual members. We wanted to make the "go to" place for some one to submit their stolen gun if they so choose. We have no illusions that this is going to get everyones gun back to them or that it is a perfect system. We have worked very hard to make it as secure and user friendly as possible and we are looking at all feedback to improve it if necessary. We do feel this site has the potential to help some people and if it helped 1 person we would be very proud of that. Thank you gentlemen for your input. As for who we are ? Well my name is Aaron Crowder.
Posted by: Aaron at January 5, 2009 06:50 AM
Thank you for you support of the 2A cause. No good deed goes unpunished. Your intent is grand. I for one am terrified of the ANTIs. I hope this works and most of us paranoid types will come around. I have a buddy that will still not use a credit card on the internes.
Again thanks for your efforts
Posted by: Chuck at January 5, 2009 02:59 PM
I appreciate the kind words. I to fear the antis and thier radical thinking as I am a proud gun owner as well. As for being paraniod, I think that is just what the world has made us out of necessaty.
Posted by: Aaron at January 5, 2009 09:01 PM
Hey guys my gun was recently stolen out of my car and after reporting it to the local police dept I was very upset.(they really don't give two flips) So I was searching the internet for quesions last night and found this website. WWW.HOTGUNZ.COM It is really cool you can list your stolen gun. I'm a single mom and can not afford to buy another one so I hope this works.
Posted by: michelle at February 6, 2009 01:50 PM
How do I find out if a gun is a stolen one before I buy it????
Posted by: Michael Bodenhammer at January 21, 2010 07:42 AM