It’s a common scenario: You walk outside to get into your car, or your truck, your SUV… the side window is smashed, and your pistol has been stolen.
Minor crimes are soaring during the COVID-19 pandemic and as states refuse to arrest low-level criminals, gun owners are left wondering what to do when their gun goes missing. What should you do, and what does the law in Georgia require you to do for a stolen firearm?
What to do #1: Keep Records
Now, your first and best step takes place before you’re separated from a gun. Document your firearms. Keep filed away and separate from your gun safe, the make model, caliber, and any identifying characteristics of all your firearms. Now, the most important of these characteristics is the serial number.
Keep a list of all the serial numbers for the firearms that you own. When you report to the police, you will want to give them the number of the stolen firearm. Remember, in Georgia, there is no duty to report a stolen firearm whatsoever. And there’s no state or federal gun registry, so the government won’t keep track of your guns for you. That’s why you need to keep accurate records. Now, if possible, keep a copy of the sales receipt or a bill of sale.
A photograph is also always helpful in this situation. You should also store an electronic backup of these documents and these photos, and be ready to utilize them if you have to report a firearm stolen.
What to do #2: Contact your attorney
If the situation is an emergency, call 911 first. Tell them the who, the what, and the where, and then call your lawyer. But what if you didn’t immediately discover the loss? What if it takes hours, or even days before you realize your firearm has been stolen? You’ve been away from home, and you come home days later, your home has been broken into. If you discover the theft sometime after the fact and there’s no immediate threat of harm, the first crucial step for protecting yourself after a gun is stolen should be to discuss the incident with an attorney.
Did you possess the gun in a prohibited location? Were you negligent in the manner in which it was stored? Was the firearm a prohibited weapon, or illegal for any reason? It’s important to discuss these issues with an attorney. Make sure you protect yourself before speaking to law enforcement. It’s all too easy to unintentionally incriminate yourself when trying to do the right thing and report a gun stolen. Only a licensed attorney can give you legal advice on such matters.
What happens if your stolen firearm turns up at a crime scene or in police custody? All too often, the following scenario unfolds: ATF shows up at the home of an individual to ask questions about a gun he or she once owned but was later discovered at a suspicious location or used in a crime. After conferring with your attorney in a nonemergency situation, your attorney should reach out to police to assist in reporting the firearm stolen.
In Georgia, remember, you’re not legally required to report a stolen firearm. However, if you don’t report it and the gun is ever used in a crime, the police will likely have some serious questions if they trace the serial number to your Federal Firearms Licensee, and then to you. For all they know, the gun never left your possession. Reporting the gun stolen breaks what is commonly referred as “the chain of custody.” It clearly delineates when you had the gun, and when it left your possession. Let your lawyer help you do this.
U.S. LawShield has created a unique add-on that provides extra coverage for this very reason. With Gunowner Identity Theft Coverage an Independent Program Attorney will provide crucial assistance, so you won’t have to deal with the fallout of a stolen gun or identity (affecting your right to carry) on your own. Crooks want to use your gun—not theirs. Don’t wait until it’s too late: add Gunowner Identity Theft Coverage now.
For any questions about firearm documentation, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak with your Independent Program Attorney.