Firearms record keeping isn’t glamorous, entertaining, or fashionable but it should be something everyone of us in the firearms community does. I will be the first to admit it’s a drag to do, especially if you like to engage in what us old timers refer to as “Horse trading.” We have all traded guns, or bought them from private citizens or from stores, it’s part of what makes this hobby great. In the not so recent past we featured an article from Steven Hildreth Jr. that outlined some things to look out for and ways to protect yourself during private gun sales. That is an excellent article and in our opinion everyone should refresh their memories occasionally and remind yourself how to safely handle private gun sales. In the article Steven talks about providing and getting a bill of sale for the transaction, this is the first step in the process of firearms record keeping.

We decided to expand on that article to show you some reasons why in this day and age firearms record keeping is important not just for the owners of Federal Firearms Licenses, but for private sales as well. Some states now require registration of sales or background checks be performed between private sales, other states like the one I live in put the responsibility on the person selling the firearm.

Bill of Sale

Steven covered this part very well in his article, but I do things a little differently that he does so I decided to include some of the things I put on a bill of sale between two transferring parties. I list all the information on two sheets of paper, one for each of us.

  1. Names and Addresses or transferring parties
  2. Date of transaction
  3. Make, Model, Caliber, Serial Numbers of Firearms
  4. A statement that says the transferees both agree that neither firearm is stolen and that they are legally allowed to posses the firearms being transferred

Number four on the list is something I recently added to my bills of sales after much deliberation. I will also note on my copy of the paperwork when I get home where I transferred the gun, the time of transaction and how I came to meet the person. It may sound overly cautious but I also try to note the type and model of vehicle to person was driving. Some people may think I’m going all secret squirrel on gun sales and trying to make it feel like clandestine operation but if that gun ever gets used in a crime and I have members of the Law Enforcement world interviewing me I’m not going to be the one sweating under bright lights.

Other Reasons for Record Keeping Include 

Protection: Playing cover your ass or “CYA” incase someone uses one of my old firearms for illegal reasons isn’t the only other reason I keep records of my firearms. In 2013 my wife parents had a house fire and it was a total loss, they lost everything including all their firearms and when it came time to settle up with their home owners insurance, yep you guessed it they wanted lists of models, serial numbers of everything they owned not just firearms. it was a nightmare and part of the series of events that made me change the way I did things with record keeping as a whole.

Simplicity: I don’t like to think much unless I have to, I will freely admit that it is much easier for me to go pick up a single spiral bound gun transaction and inventory book to find answers. Using something as simple as the type of firearms records books that Federal Firearms License holders use to list your firearms is one of the simplest ways I know to keep an accurate inventory. Call me old fashioned but knowing what I have and how many of them I own is comforting to me.