Earlier this week I was contacted by a gun owner about a matter involving missing firearms. The owner had not been irresponsible, but the guns were missing all the same. One of the major problems that came up in discussing how to proceed is that the owner did not have a list of the serial numbers for the firearms.
Part of responsible gun ownership is taking reasonable precautions against loss or theft.
Another part of responsible ownership is being able to track firearms that are lost. There are lots of reasons for this including:
- A serial number is much more useful to law enforcement than a general description of the firearm. There are a lot of Glock 19s in the world and most of them look the same.
- Related to #1, when the owner reports the firearm lost or stolen, the police know exactly which firearm. If that gun is found later the police know who is the rightful owner.
- Serial numbers can also be useful for determining if the firearm is subject to a manufacturer’s recall.
- Serial numbers can be useful for determining the date of manufacture, model, generation, etc. Anyone who has tried to date a firearm using a proof mark knows what I am talking about.