tampering with a serial#?

Discussion in 'NFA Firearms & Related Items' started by Zane71464, Jan 22, 2010.

  1. Zane71464

    Zane71464 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2009
    Messages:
    5,968
    Location:
    Ohio NRA Member
    I think I already know the answer to this and proabaly a Federal Firearms Violation, but however I have to know for sure.
    I bought a handgun new about 15 years ago. I ended up selling it to a person a few years ago. Here a while back the person asked if I'd like to have it back? I said sure, bring it out and I'll have a look at it.
    So, got to looking at it and the serial number on it looked like someone had tryed to file it down, (for whatever reason I have no clue) but it is barely readable...I'd like to have the gun back just for the reason I bought it new and its a good little gun.
    Any thoughts/info? Thinking I already know this but have to be certain.
    Thanks in advance,
    Zane
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2010
  2. GoodOl'12gauge

    GoodOl'12gauge New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2008
    Messages:
    258
    If you can still read the numbers and its not to badly damaged you should be alright but i would see what your lacal dealer had to say first.
  3. PPK 32

    PPK 32 Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,170
    Location:
    Frickin, Illinois


    If they are readable, not because you know what the numbers should say, what do they really say. Then you need to check on the specifics as to how much tampering is acceptable. If they are remotely not readable, walk away. Were it me, I'd walk away period, there's a reason someone did that to the gun-- I would not want any part of it.
  4. Zane71464

    Zane71464 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2009
    Messages:
    5,968
    Location:
    Ohio NRA Member
    As far as readable, beings I know what they are yes, but if I didnt know it would be a guess. So walk away is exactly what I'm going to do. And your right...what is the need to file serial#'s off...there is none unless the obvious and I dont want to even speculate.

    "Then you need to check on the specifics as to how much tampering is acceptable." I will check into that but as you said PPK 32, there is no reason for anyone to do that to a gun.. "other then not good" IMO

    Thank you both for the info on the post.
    Zane
  5. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2006
    Messages:
    1,035
    I would make sure that I have well documented just who I sold the gun to. If you don't take it back, I'm sure he will sell it to someone else that isn't quite as discriminating.
    Seeing as how you bought it from a dealer it has your name associated with it and if it's used in a crime, you will be the first one they contact. (While filing off the serial is illegal, it doesn't stop a crime Lab from raising and tracking it.)
  6. Zane71464

    Zane71464 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2009
    Messages:
    5,968
    Location:
    Ohio NRA Member
    Well I got to looking at it further and you can read all but one number of the serial numbers. (and it's if'y) I looked through my records and found the original reciept when I bought the gun new. With that, I have the gun in my possession with my reciept. I do have the gun back in my posession And what to do with it I'm not sure.
    I got it back out of the public for the reason of the numbers have been tampered with.
    I have the reciept and the gun...and now wondering what to do with it? I did buy it back from the person I sold it to and for a reasonable price. This person assured me the gun wasnt used in any illegal action.(for what thats worth) HA!
    I did however ask the person why was the #'s tampered with, and the answer I got was he got drunk one night and and thought he'd just do it.(not good I know) but I do know this person and he hasnt got any criminal record other the traffic citations. I do know that for a fact.
    Now the question is, what am I to do with it? I dont want to destroy the gun for the fact that if it was used in an illegal act, then there I would be...destroying evidence or such. The only reason I wanted the gun back after thinking about it over and over is that it was bought NEW by me and in my name.
    Anymore thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated!
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  7. Helix_FR

    Helix_FR New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Messages:
    3,743
    Location:
    Imperial, MO
    For me if I ever had a gun given to me to fix and the #'s were messed with, its up to me if I want to do any work on it or not. I am not entitled to report it. In your case its up to you. You know that it is not stolen property so you know there will be no issues with that and buying stolen firearms is a big no no. As far as you know it was never used in any crime. You don't have the personal resources to do a check on this gun and most people don't. i could tell you now any FFL agent that is responsible for transferring guns probably won't touch it but not for the reasons you think. The removed serial number leaves their paperwork incomplete and leaves the NICS check incomplete. The previous owner removing a number just for the hell of it b/c he was drunk is not totally being honest. There is no reason for it unless something did happen (which you know did not) or was premeditated to happen (no one knows). As long as you have a paper trail of who, when it was sold to and ultimately came back to you.
    On your receipt, is the serial number written somewhere?
    You should be fine.
  8. cakes

    cakes New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2009
    Messages:
    230
    Location:
    Northern Maine
    I think that if you had the original receipt in one hand and the pistol in the other it would appear that YOU were the one who 'tampered' with the number.

    You know what the serial number is. If it is barely readable I would stamp/etch it deeper to be easily readable again.
  9. wpage

    wpage Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,482
    The FBI can recover the #'s even if they are filed off. Check with your state police for the statute.
  10. xring

    xring New Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Messages:
    3
    Removing a S/N #from a firearm is a no no... filing does NOT remove the S/N. The grain structure in the steel is altered when the # is stamped into it.. Only 1 way to remove it. ...... and Im not telling....... I have a NFA title II machine shop.
    J
  11. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2006
    Messages:
    1,661
    You can have the number removed and reapplied.
  12. muddober

    muddober Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,447
    Bill with all due respect I don't think that is right unless you are suggesting sending it back to the factory. My recollection of the law reads something like "any alteration or attempted alteration" of any serial number etc. means jail and more jail. Life is too short, I would run from the gun. Like Cakes said since you were the original purchaser is even more reason to stay away.

    That is my 2 cents.

    Ron
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2010
  13. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2006
    Messages:
    1,661
    It is perfectly legal to remove and replace a serial number as long as it's the same number, and in approximately the same place. This issue comes up with regularity in gun refinishing.
  14. Zane71464

    Zane71464 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2009
    Messages:
    5,968
    Location:
    Ohio NRA Member
    Yes, I have the original reciept and the serial number is written down as clear as anything.
    I would have replied to this a while back, but it got lost in the posts, sorry about that Helix.
  15. Helix_FR

    Helix_FR New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Messages:
    3,743
    Location:
    Imperial, MO
    No big deal. I got lost in it too. I had a similar situation come up after you posted this. Guy who is also a city cop had his sig 9mm stolen out of his car. 3 months later the gun was recovered with an attempt made to alter or remove the serial number. All of the digits could be made out except the last. Couldn't tell if it were a 5 or a 8. Anyway he had the original box, paperwork and serial number written down. 3 things supporting that the number was a 5. The police dept gave the gun back to him b/c in there eyes it was decernable enough that this was "the gun" that was stolen from him. He called me to restamp the numbers above the original so he didn't have to take the paper work everywhere with him. Well even if I re-stamped the number, he would still have to take the paperwork with him. This came right from my ATF investigating agents mouth. "even if you re-stamp the number he would still have to carry the paperwork and police report to show evidence of why it was re-stamped".
  16. Shopnut

    Shopnut Former Guest

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    80
    Location:
    Pac NW
    http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2006/aprqtr/27cfr479.102.htm The above link says that a serial number must at least .003" deep for guns made on or after 2002. I think the .003" depth was also required prior to 2002. If the serial number is legible and deep enough, then you should be ok.

    Tampering is another issue though. Ask a lawyer who can make legal inquires for you.