Tips for Keeping Records of Your Firearms

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We all know the importance of keeping our valuables safe, locking doors, turning on the security system, and adding cameras.  Have you thought about keeping good records about what you own like your laptop, jewelry, collectibles, cars, and firearms?  In particular, I mean really good records of your firearms.
 
These records can be very important and valuable if anything should happen, it would certainly reduce the stress of filling out paperwork after the incident.  However, only firearms have an extra layer of difficulty when they are stolen.  Depending on where you live, new rules are being enacted to prosecute you if you do not report them in time. 
 
Virginia HB9, which will go into effect on 7/1/2020, states you have 48 hours to report a lost or stolen gun, if you don’t the fine is $250 (if you are curious it will be code 18.2-287.5).  If you don’t live in these areas, reporting as much information as possible in a timely fashion will help greatly in the future if your stolen guns are used in a crime.
How the ATF works
It is not widely explained but the ATF National Tracing Center program works in reverse.  They receive a request from a law enforcement agency with the make, model, and serial number of a firearm that was used in a crime.  Then, starting at the manufacturer/importer they find out where the gun was sold to, for companies that have gone out of business these records are housed at the ATF.
 
From there they contact the distributor then the retailer for specific information about the weapon.  The retailer will then send in the information about the unlicensed person the gun was sold to.  Now the original law enforcement agency knocks on that person’s door.  If that person does not have good records about the firearms they own, this could be very bad, or at the very least time consuming and stressful.
 
This is an oversimplified examination of the process, there are other variables but this is it in a nutshell.  The National Tracing Center does about half a million traces per year.  They average between 24 hours to 9 days to complete, FFL’s are required to comply with their requests within 24 hours.
 
As an FFL holder we know the importance of keeping good records of our firearms, it is one of the requirements of having the license.  We also know how much of a pain in the butt it is to not have the right paperwork or have a mistake in it.  
Tips for record-keeping
  • Keep your records up to date, make sure changes are recorded soon after they happen
  • Keep your records in a safe place, preferably in multiple places
    • Printed with the rest of your important documentation
    • Stored on your computer
    • Uploaded to a cloud storage service, like Dropbox
  • Keep all receipt you have for any transaction made involving your firearms
    • Transfer receipts – both bought and sold
    • Gunsmith records
  • Maintenance and usage records
  • When selling your firearm, do this transaction through a licensed dealer.  In Virginia, HB2 will make this mandatory (when the code is updated we will include it here).  This is a highly contested issue but it will cover your butt by keeping the paper trail moving past you.
How do you keep records of your firearms?  Do you find it useful?

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