Monday, December 1, 2008


In the last 30 days, I have fielded SIX questions from people who have either bought a gun from an individual, inherited a gun, or were given a gun by someone. One fellow inherited a deer rifle from his wife’s deceased uncle. Said uncle had bought the gun legally in a store in Mississippi, and later moved to Louisiana. When he passed, the gun ended up with his niece’s husband.

On a recent deer hunting trip to Texas, the fellow worried himself sick because his father was driving too fast, and they were sure to be stopped, and he had this unregistered deer rifle that had been brought in from another state.

Another gentleman was asking how to set up a blackpowder shooting match as a fundraiser for the local fire department. And he wanted to be sure and get the local sheriff’s office involved to be able to check and make sure all the guns used in the contest were properly registered.

In every case, these honest, law-abiding citizens, most of whom had legally received a firearm from an individual, or were preparing to purchase one from another individual, were asking either how to go about registering their firearm, or change the registration in their own names.

What frightened me most about these questions was the absolute naivete of these people—their acceptance of a supposed condition that should be as abhorrent to them as themselves and their children being forced into slavery.

But all too many people today, in spite of the gun confiscations of the citizenry of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Heller case to overthrow the restrictive gun ownership laws of Washington D.C., still do not understand the dangers of gun registration.

And this means we as members of the gun culture are doing a poor job of educating our fellow citizens to the threat to personal liberty that will occur if we ever see some form of national gun registration.

I think many people are confused on the laws, and many of these are gun owners. One of the actions that muddies the water, and make many people believe we actually have gun registration is the FBI NICS check.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) is a background check that must be performed by any Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) when he sells a gun to an individual.

When a person goes to a store to buy a gun, he (or she) must fill out a standard firearms purchase Form #4473 which asks some cursory background questions. The dealer then calls the NICS number and reads the individual information to an FBI computer geek.

A quick background check of the individual purchaser is run, to determine if he/she has outstanding warrants, has been convicted of a felony, or other criminal activity.

Normally this action takes only a few seconds, and the NICS checker gives the retailer the go-ahead to “Proceed” with the sale.

If the information on the individual is not instantly available, or there is a computer problem, the retailer will be instructed to hold the sale. The customer will then be told to return in three days. If the NICS system has not contacted the retailer in that time, the retailer may sell the gun to the individual.

Once the NICS system has given the go-ahead to allow the sale to proceed, all pertinent information on the purchaser MUST be eradicated from the system within 24 hours. The FBI has been mandated by Congress and federal law NOT to use this information to build a standing record of firearms owners—in other words, a gun registration database. Many firearms enthusiasts do not trust the system, and fear a national firearms owners database could be built from these checks.

The Form 4473 which is filled out by each purchaser stays in the possession of the gun dealer—it is not transmitted to the federal government in any way. But BATFE compliance agents make periodic checks of gun dealer records to ensure they are maintaining their records properly. The records stay in the possession of the firearms dealer as long as the business remains in operation. Once the business closes, the forms must be returned to BATFE--many consider this to be a back-door form of registration, but it applies only to guns purchased from licensed dealers.

Because of these forms, and the checking through NICS, many people assume some form of gun registration is in place--with the 4473 forms, it is a tenuous connection but does exist.

That they are not offended by this presumption absolutely frightens me.

Another important thing to remember is there is no requirement to register a gun, or conduct an NICS check on sales or transfers of guns between individuals.

One of the questions I have received recently was how one person could transfer the registration of a handgun from the guy selling to the guy buying. I actually fielded this question twice in one week.

There is NO registration of guns sold or given by one individual to another. It would behoove you to get a bill of sale describing the gun, its serial number, and the name of the person you are buying it from. This will forego any problems if the gun should turn up as stolen. You can then show you made an honest purchase, or received the gun as a gift, and direct the law enforcement personnel to the person from whom you received the gun.

So please, please spread the word.

There is no need for official background investigations in gun transfers between private individuals. And the background checks through licensed dealers are exactly that—cursory background checks—and the information must be destroyed in 24 hours if the sale is allowed to proceed.

And while you are educating your friends, tell them why they should be afraid of something they seem so readily able to accept—that registration leads to confiscation—and it is our guns that keep us free.

The Second Amendment was not, and was never intended to be a protection of hunting rights, or the right to keep a gun for fun. The Second Amendment was designed by the founding fathers to give the people a way to protect themselves from the founding fathers.


Xavier said...

Much needed reminder Gordon!

Far too often, educated gun owners believe all gun owners know these things, while the uneducated gun owners continue to believe and spread misinformation as truth.

Anonymous said...

I am a skeptic on this- Do we REALLY believe that info is not kept by the Feds? My trust in the FBI is nil. NIL. The FBI crime lab scandal, the GREAT LON HORIUCHI event, the WACO event, etc- the list goes on- And all they have to do anyway is to raid the gun shops, take the records and start looking us up. From a practical standpoint, those records, plus gun club memberships and CCW records would be enough to find ALL the real RKBA activists, yeah, Granddads deer rifle may not be found in Joe's closet, but the GUNS are not the END-they are the MEANS- the means to identify those who believe in individual liberty and the Bill of Rights. The GUNS are not what they want to "get off the streets", it's the OWNERS that pose a political threat.

Anonymous said...

When a FFL gives up the license the 4473 Forms go to BATF and are warehoused. Thankfully the government isn't very adept but, I wouldn't trust BATF not to do things with the 4473 that they shouldn't. Eternal vigilance.

Anonymous said...

And an addendum- the number of gun shops has decreased by a factor of 10- making access to records much easier, as there are less places to look- and do not the gun shops have to turn over their records to the ATF if they close?

Anonymous said...

doesn't California require handgun registration at all sales...prohibiting a person to person sale without going through a licensed dealer?

Anonymous said...

If they only use it to verify that I have not committed a felony etc. than why do they call out the serial number of the brand new firmarm that I am purchasing? What do they need the serial number for?

GORDON said...

Mr. Anonymous...

I don't return comments on a lot of stuff here, but I have to say you gave me pause for thought.

WHY do they need the serial number?

What difference does it make what kind of gun we are purchasing, and why do they need its serial number?

Sounds like a great question to ask our congress people, right?

I think I will do just that.

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