Insult to Injury

Not only did a Pennsylvania man have his home broken into by thieves who took off with several antique firearms from his collection, but then added insult to injury by drinking the homeowner’s beer while they were stealing his stuff.

However, the case gets interesting because it appears the state police don’t have a method for getting the word out about really old guns to other law enforcement.

[The stolen guns] included a [“pre-Civil War”] dueling pistol…a pair of blackpowder Derringer pistols and a circa-1914 shotgun, as well as three more modern rifles. …

Police usually file serial numbers to a database in case officers later find the weapons in criminals’ hands, but hunting rifles aren’t as likely as handguns to end up among criminals. …

It’s not clear whether a 19th-century blackpowder pistol could even be filed in the gun database, he noted.

Given the unique variety of historic guns stolen that would be largely ineffective and of no real value in the criminal world, I would think the best solution here would be to put out a description of the guns to all FFLs in the area, as well as any local law enforcement in the region just in case they find them ditched somewhere. But it’s interesting that their system of reporting stolen guns can’t even handle historic firearms.

(The photo shown isn’t one of the guns stolen. At least, I hope it isn’t because the fuller picture shows the price tag of $4,000. It’s a photo I snapped at an antique gun show that I thought was relevant since it was made in Pennsylvania by a Pennsylvanian.)

11 thoughts on “Insult to Injury”

  1. I’m sure the system won’t work well without a serial number. At least that’s what happened to me when Dad’s Fox Sterlingworth was stolen. It was built long before serial numbers were required.


  2. Well, even reporting it to FFL’s is likely to be ineffective: Those guns can be sold without restriction or background check. In effect, they aren’t legally firearms. Even non-FFLs can sell them. You could set up a table at the local flea market, and assuming it’s not against state law (generally, it’s not), you could sell all the antique (pre 1898) and muzzleloading guns, modern or not, that you want.

  3. Hope he had insurance on it if it was valuable, odds of him ever seeing it again are slim, and none.

  4. Is that the gun database that’s illegal for the commonwealth to maintain?

  5. Given that 99.99% of guns ever stolen have (or had before removal by the thief) serial numbers, it’s not unreasonable.

    jkp: It’s [I assume, not knowing their state law] illegal to have a database of “guns people own” that’s maintained by the fact of purchase/transfer, and that owners have to abide by and be part of.

    It’s not illegal to have a database of serials of stolen guns for the purpose of, you know, finding them and getting them back.

    (If it was, that’d effectively say “it’s just impossible for cops to find your stolen gun for you”, since if they can’t write down the serial number [which is all a “database” is in this context] how can they know it’s yours, and not someone else’s, when they find a gun of the same make and model?)

    1. I suspect he means the PA gun sales registry. The state police claim it’s not really a gun registry since it obviously doesn’t have every single gun in PA in it. Anything purchased outside of the state or any long guns transferred privately aren’t in it, but it’s still a registry of every gun sold through a dealer in the state. The court upheld their reasoning.

    2. Sigivald and gang —

      Just FYI, most attempts to “remove” serial numbers are not effective. There are several ways of restoring them. Doesn’t stop criminals from trying, of course, but most defaced guns can be identified with confidence.

      Also, while a Federal registry isn’t legal for ATF to maintain, there are no restrictions that bind the states or, for that matter, other Federal agencies. A minority of States do maintain a registry, including most of the Northeast, California and Hawaii. Some states register only handguns. (Like PA, which requires private handgun transfers to go through FFLs). Some states require even long gun owners to have licenses (MA, NY, NJ, IL off the top of my head).

  6. I wonder if the theives know what they’ve got. If they put modern shotgun shells in the chamber…boom…

  7. The last time my guns were stolen in a burglary, I was taken to the police station, accused of selling firearms to criminals, and threatened with prison.

    No thanks. I don’t need the police to “help” me recover stolen guns EVER AGAIN. If it happens again I’m not reporting it.

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