Criminals are crafty, and often experts at what they do. So, even though we take precautions to safeguard against theft, some jackwagon has plans to get around them. According to an ATF report there were 7,180 stolen guns reported in 2020. That may not seem like much, but when you’re the gun owner, it’s more than you would like. For this reason, we are providing a reference guide for how to report a stolen gun.
How to Report a Lost or Stolen Gun
Whether it is a lost or stolen gun, you really should report it. Unlike most stolen property, theft of a firearm can pose a risk to public safety. For this reason, some states even have mandatory reporting of stolen firearms laws in place. Not to mention, if your gun is reported lost or stolen, your local law enforcement agency will have the opportunity and information to find it and potentially save lives.
Of course, prevention is always best. For example, if you are leaving your home and you have firearms in the house, lock them up. It is common gun safety etiquette. Likewise, although it is never a good idea to leave your firearm in your vehicle, sometimes it is unavoidable. This is why it is a good idea to have the means to secure it while you are away.
But, we all know, life is what happens when we are busy making other plans. So, what are the next steps?
3 Steps to Reporting a Lost or Stolen Firearm
Although the laws requiring reporting a lost or stolen firearm vary from state to state, maintaining a clear plan is important. You may be surprised to know that only a fraction of states have mandatory reporting laws. Likewise, reporting a lost or stolen firearm is not a federal requirement either. In fact, the ATF doesn’t even take reports from civilians.
However, it is your gun, and you want it back (or at the very least, don’t want it used in the commission of a crime). Regardless of what state you are living in.
1. Keep Records of Your Firearms
This first step is a preemptive measure that everyone should take. Always keep a record of your firearm(s). Personally, I keep the sales records of my firearms in my safe. The sales record contains the make, model, and serial number of the firearm. However, if your state does not require a sales record, you can write these things down and store them securely.
Likewise, it can’t hurt to take some photos of your firearms. You can get as detailed with this as you like, but at the very least include both sides and the serial number. Keep in mind that photos taken with your phone are automatically uploaded to the cloud. So, if you have the option, use a regular camera, for security reasons. If you don’t have one, see if you can borrow one from a friend.
However, if your firearm is stolen before you have the opportunity to write this information down, there is still hope. Contact the FFL where you purchased the firearm. They are required to keep records of all sales. Likewise, if you purchased it from a private seller, or the FFL has closed, contact your state firearms registration office, if your state has one.
In the unfortunate event you cannot retrieve the serial number, the ATF states:
“If the firearms dealer is out of business and your inquiry is in reference to a stolen firearm, contact your local police department. It is possible they will submit a request to the National Tracing Center for a Records Search Request assuming the circumstances are connected to a bona fide criminal investigation.”
2. Report the Firearm Stolen at the Time It Occurs
It is important that you report the loss or theft immediately. The faster you report it, the faster it can be found. Once it is reported, your local law enforcement will enter it into a gun serial number database. As a result, it will be listed as stolen, and other law enforcement officers can be on the lookout.
3. Follow Up with Law Enforcement Periodically to Check on Status
As with everyone else, police departments are busy too, so they may forget to inform you if they find your gun. Not to mention, it is always possible that it was entered into the system incorrectly. It is always good to follow up periodically to check the status in either case.
Although every state has its own reporting laws, you should first report the theft to your local police department. However, if it is stolen from your vehicle in another jurisdiction, report it to the police department for that jurisdiction. It is important that the local authorities where the gun was stolen are alerted to it immediately before it is used in a crime.
With the push from Democrats to demonize legal gun ownership, let’s not give them ammunition by having our guns used to further illegal gun violence.