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View Full Version : Must a rifle's serial # be visible?


eltee
01-28-2009, 7:59 PM
When checking some shotguns, you have to remove the forend to see the serial number. When some people drop their rifles into a new, custom stock sometimes the # is blocked. Is there any legal requirement that a serial number be visible without removing part/all of the stock?

Librarian
01-28-2009, 8:38 PM
Since serial numbers were not required at all before 1968, and all the previously-existing weapons are legal (on that score, anyway), no, visibility is not required.

Laws against damaging or obliterating, of course.

bohoki
01-28-2009, 10:31 PM
put electrical tape pasties on all you want

Fate
01-29-2009, 11:24 AM
put electrical tape pasties on all you want
For those that UOC, it might make sense to do this to prevent an officer from running the serial number of your pistol. PC allows for them to check that it's unloaded only. And it's been noted that things observed by an officer can be used (thus if he can see your SN, he can run it).

adamsreeftank
01-29-2009, 7:03 PM
I have a related question. An older shotgun needs re-finishing, and I'd like to blast and park it, but the serial number has a very light stamp and I'm afraid it would be illegible.

Can I over-stamp or re-stamp it with the same serial number, or do I need to mask the number when I blast it?

Mulay El Raisuli
01-30-2009, 9:40 AM
For those that UOC, it might make sense to do this to prevent an officer from running the serial number of your pistol. PC allows for them to check that it's unloaded only. And it's been noted that things observed by an officer can be used (thus if he can see your SN, he can run it).


I have an alternate approach. My plan for the gathering on 28 Feb is to use a label maker to make up a sticker that says "warrant required" & then to place that over the serial number. Because while I agree that the cops can verify unloaded, they got no call to run the serial number.

The Raisuli

DDT
01-30-2009, 12:52 PM
I have an alternate approach. My plan for the gathering on 28 Feb is to use a label maker to make up a sticker that says "warrant required" & then to place that over the serial number. Because while I agree that the cops can verify unloaded, they got no call to run the serial number.

The Raisuli

What a great idea.

garandguy10
01-30-2009, 3:46 PM
I have a related question. An older shotgun needs re-finishing, and I'd like to blast and park it, but the serial number has a very light stamp and I'm afraid it would be illegible.

Can I over-stamp or re-stamp it with the same serial number, or do I need to mask the number when I blast it?


You can not obliterate,modify or restamp existing serial numbers on any firearm under federal law.
If refinishing may obscure or obliterate or other wise make the existing factory applied serial number illegible,then do not do anything to oblitirate or modify the serial numbers[no refinishing] you can not deepen or otherwise modify factory applied serial numbers legally.

Satex
01-30-2009, 4:00 PM
I have a related question. An older shotgun needs re-finishing, and I'd like to blast and park it, but the serial number has a very light stamp and I'm afraid it would be illegible.

Can I over-stamp or re-stamp it with the same serial number, or do I need to mask the number when I blast it?

Just mask the serial number for the blasting and refinishing.

CHS
01-30-2009, 4:01 PM
You can not obliterate,modify or restamp existing serial numbers on any firearm under federal law.
If refinishing may obscure or obliterate or other wise make the existing factory applied serial number illegible,then do not do anything to oblitirate or modify the serial numbers[no refinishing] you can not deepen or otherwise modify factory applied serial numbers legally.

Can you please give a legal quote for this?

Doesn't seem to make sense that you couldn't overstamp a serial number with the same font and serial number.



Now, another option would be to have a manufacturer just do it for you. They could refinish your gun, obliterate the old serial number, and then re-stamp it with a new one.

Unfortunately, then you'd have to DROS and transfer the gun all over again :)

DDT
01-30-2009, 4:48 PM
Unfortunately, then you'd have to DROS and transfer the gun all over again :)

I don't believe that is the case if the serial number is the same.

CHS
01-30-2009, 4:56 PM
I don't believe that is the case if the serial number is the same.

That's why I said 'new serial number'. I don't believe a manufacturer can just re-do the S# for another manufacturer. I believe he has to re-mark the receiver and put his own S# on it. Then it is no longer the same gun, and would have to be re-4473'ed and re-DROS'ed.

I would love for someone to correct me if I'm wrong.

eltee
01-31-2009, 8:23 AM
I don't have anything that codifies the legality of this, but I once had an antique lever action Winchester refinished by a pretty famous restorer of Winchesters. He does work for the Smithsonian, his waiting list was about two years. He is a licensed FFL. He seemed to be very knowledgeable about legalities. His specialty among restorers, and what he is most famous for, is the matching of factory finishes (they are different on different parts of the gun) and the restoration of original markings inc. the serial numbers. He said (again, he is a craftsman and not a legal pundit) it was legal to restore the original makers' markings inc. serial numbers.

Just my 2 cents. BTW...his work was superlative.

Librarian
01-31-2009, 1:12 PM
You can not obliterate,modify or restamp existing serial numbers on any firearm under federal law.
If refinishing may obscure or obliterate or other wise make the existing factory applied serial number illegible,then do not do anything to oblitirate or modify the serial numbers[no refinishing] you can not deepen or otherwise modify factory applied serial numbers legally.

FedLaw speaks to this apparently only in 18 USC 922 (k) (k) It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to transport, ship, or receive, in interstate or foreign commerce, any firearm which has had the importer’s or manufacturer’s serial number removed, obliterated, or altered or to possess or receive any firearm which has had the importer’s or manufacturer’s serial number removed, obliterated, or altered and has, at any time, been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.

That's echoed in 27 CFR 478.34 Removed, obliterated, or al-
tered serial number.

No person shall knowingly transport,
ship, or receive in interstate or foreign
commerce any firearm which has had the
importer's or manufacturer's serial number
removed, obliterated, or altered, or pos-
sess or receive any firearm which has had
the importer's or manufacturer's serial
number removed, obliterated, or altered
and has, at any time, been shipped or
transported in interstate or foreign com-
merce.



I think "altered" in this case means things like "change a '3' to an '8' ". I don't think 'restamp' is covered there, though I can see how one might interpret it that way.


(BTW, if you have bookmarks to ATF, you may be surprised - I was. Used to be 'atf.treas.gov', but now it's just 'atf.gov' - their error page is misleading: ERROR
Access Denied

* Access Denied by security policy

The security policy for your network prevents your request from being allowed at this time. Please contact your administrator if you feel this is incorrect. Not my network, bro.)

DDT
01-31-2009, 1:23 PM
That's why I said 'new serial number'. I don't believe a manufacturer can just re-do the S# for another manufacturer. I believe he has to re-mark the receiver and put his own S# on it. Then it is no longer the same gun, and would have to be re-4473'ed and re-DROS'ed.


Sorry, I mis-read your earlier post as the same manufacturer. Can a licensed manufacturer simply re-stamp a firearm made by someone else as their own? Or do you contend that re-finishing a receiver is manufacturing? Do manufacturers have to abide by the 80% rule that we do when claiming a receiver is "made by" them?