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Thread: Need advice regarding possible ATF trace request

  1. #1
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    Need advice regarding possible ATF trace request

    I received a message from my dealer that he had received a trace request on a pistol that I purchased from him back in 2015. After I purchased the pistol, I decided that the glossy stainless finish was a little to blingy for me. I set it aside and purchased a black version of the same pistol. A year or so later I sold the stainless one on GunBroker. I keep documentation of all of my sales, so I found the information regarding who I sold it to and his dealer who I shipped it to. Apparently the ATF has taken the time to trace the pistol from the manufacturer to the distributor to my dealer, so I'm assuming that I'm next to be contacted. For those who have been through this or are in the know, do you have suggestions regarding do's and don'ts? Do they typically call, visit you at work or visit you at home? Do they come with some sort of court order or do they just try to sweet talk to get the information they want? I'm obviously curious as to why they're tracing the pistol. Do they typically divulge that or are they tight lipped?

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    I've been through this twice as an FFL. They are tight lipped as to why, and I didn't press it. You can pretty much assume they are doing a trace for a felony crime. If you haven't violated state laws, there is zero issue that you sold the pistol. In fact, there is zero issue even if you didn't keep a record of who you sold it to if not required to do so by some state or local law.

    As for them contacting you, it might all depend if they consider you some sort of suspect. You might be contacted by local LEO. I didn't have the phone numbers of the two customers available to give the ATF, I can only assume they used the address to either get a phone number or they visited personally.

    For do's and don'ts.. just don't perjure yourself and you'll be good to go. You'll hand them the information of where the pistol went and they will simply move on.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bret View Post
    I received a message from my dealer that he had received a trace request on a pistol that I purchased from him back in 2015. After I purchased the pistol, I decided that the glossy stainless finish was a little to blingy for me. I set it aside and purchased a black version of the same pistol. A year or so later I sold the stainless one on GunBroker. I keep documentation of all of my sales, so I found the information regarding who I sold it to and his dealer who I shipped it to. Apparently the ATF has taken the time to trace the pistol from the manufacturer to the distributor to my dealer, so I'm assuming that I'm next to be contacted. For those who have been through this or are in the know, do you have suggestions regarding do's and don'ts? Do they typically call, visit you at work or visit you at home? Do they come with some sort of court order or do they just try to sweet talk to get the information they want? I'm obviously curious as to why they're tracing the pistol. Do they typically divulge that or are they tight lipped?
    I had similar happen though through the PD not ATF.

    Long story short.
    Received a phone call from a Philadelphia police detective about my HK P2000 and what I had done with it. Told him I traded it in for another gun at a gun store. Asked me if I had the receipt and/or know the store, I did. Told him the store name and emailed him the receipt. Called the store and they had already heard from him, gave him the name of the person who bought it and I was no longer involved.

    The detective did tell me they start from the beginning. It's easier to trace from factory then to go backwards

    Some time later I walked into the same store and the salesman points to another guy and says he bought your HK. The man was in his 90s. We talked and he got the same call and told him where he traded it, another local gun store. That was the end of it for both of us.


    You don't need to have the receipt but it certainly helps. All you have to do is give the store name where you sold/traded/sent to. They'll take it from there. Honestly, I don't think you even need that since it's not up to you to keep track of this but it certainly helps
    Last edited by Arik; 08-22-19 at 16:55.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    I've been through this twice as an FFL. They are tight lipped as to why, and I didn't press it. You can pretty much assume they are doing a trace for a felony crime. If you haven't violated state laws, there is zero issue that you sold the pistol. In fact, there is zero issue even if you didn't keep a record of who you sold it to if not required to do so by some state or local law.

    As for them contacting you, it might all depend if they consider you some sort of suspect. You might be contacted by local LEO. I didn't have the phone numbers of the two customers available to give the ATF, I can only assume they used the address to either get a phone number or they visited personally.

    For do's and don'ts.. just don't perjure yourself and you'll be good to go. You'll hand them the information of where the pistol went and they will simply move on.
    Yep, somebody did something with the gun. They always start from manufacturer and traces through distributors, dealers then purchasers. Give them the Gunbroker info you have and they will trace to the next party and continue down the food chain. Once they confirm with the FFL that he received it they will have no interest in you.

    They will probably call you and then ask you to email the information you have to them.
    It's hard to be a ACLU hating, philosophically Libertarian, socially liberal, fiscally conservative, scientifically grounded, agnostic, porn admiring gun owner who believes in self determination.

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  5. #5
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    Any PD can run a trace request for almost any reason by simply filling out a form and some kind of crime, which does not have to be a felony. Iíve had one over the years and was for a handgun I sold to a guy who was dumb enough to get caught carrying it in CA. I didnít really think that rose to a level that tracing it would do anything but hey... CA and all.

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    I’ve had one experience with this. Detective from a city an hour away called the dealer, who put him in touch with me. He didn’t divulge why he was asking, since there are obvious reasons to keep that quiet in case you’re tied to the suspect somehow.

    State law is key, though. There is a law in my state that requires a record of a sale/trade (to FFL or individual) for X years. Not sure what they do if it’s been more than 10 years, but I don’t keep receipts any longer than that.

    It’s my understanding that feds will farm these kind of inquiries to local LE, too.

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    I got a letter from the FBI stating one of my Glocks had been used in a felony. Found on the scene. I called and told them it hadn't, and that it was and is still in my possession, locked in a safe, and no one else had borrowed it, and no one else had the safe combo. They insisted they had my pistol. I assured them they didn't as I was looking right at it as we talked. Turns out someone had transposed the last two serial numbers on their paperwork. Oops. Nothing else happened.
    NRA Life Member.

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    Got a letter from the ATF years ago asking me to call a certain number. I did and they asked me about a Remington .270 bolt gun I had sold to someone at a gun show. They asked me if it had been stolen from me and I told them what I did with it. Asked me if I had record of who I sold it to and I said "Nope" (I didn't). Asked me for a physical description of the guy and I gave it to him. Apparently that gun had been found when someone got busted and was among a bunch of other guns believed to be stolen. Guessing it was stolen from the guy I sold it to because my description of the guy didn't seem to fit the perp they had in custody. That was the end of it.
    11C2P '83-'87
    Airborne Infantry

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    ATF showed up at a local store about a Noveske N4 that I did the transfer through. Store told me. Never heard from the ATF.
    C co 1/30th Infantry Regiment
    3rd Brigade 3rd Infantry Division
    2002-2006
    OIF 1 and 3

    IraqGunz:
    No dude is going to get shot in the chest at 300 yards and look down and say "What is that, a 3 MOA group?"

  10. #10
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    I probably should keep better paperwork... Too late now, no telling how many I've sold over the years and I don't have jack...

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