What’s the Law: Internet purchase of a stolen firearm claimed to be made before 1898



TOPIC: Internet purchase of a stolen firearm claimed to be made before 1898

Question: I was on an Internet gun auction site and was interested in a firearm that a mainland FFL dealer said was an antique made before 1898. As such, it could be shipped directly to me without the need for a Hawaii FFL. I placed a successful bid, and the firearm was shipped directly to me. I soon discovered that the firearm was actually manufactured after 1898 and, when I tried to register it at HPD, it was confiscated since it appeared on a national stolen firearms list. Can I get my money back? Suggestions?

Answer: Even if it appears that a firearm was produced before 1898, this determination must be made by the serial number (see WTL, May 2012). A seller’s claim should be verified independently by the buyer. Don’t assume the mainland seller really knows.

If any firearm you buy turns out to be stolen, you can demand your money back. A seller is legally obligated to make a full refund even if he was unaware it was stolen. If the seller refuses, you could send a report to the auction company and the ATF since he illegally sold and shipped a firearm to a non-FFL in violation of federal law and that the firearm was also stolen.

The Department of Justice reported that 1.4 million firearms have been stolen during the period, 2005 to 2010. The likelihood a stolen firearm being offered for sale on an Internet gun auction, at a gun show, or even by individuals, is not remote. Buyer beware.

Post script: In the case above, a refund was issued in full.

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