Serial Numbers, Serial Numbers, Serial Numbers or how Gun Day Needs to Happen

A deer rifle swiped from underneath a blanket on the bed of a pickup truck during hunting season 47 years ago recently surfaced some 500 miles away from where it vanished from. Police were able to recover the gun when detectives ran the serial against the federal database— but only because its previous owner had known and reported the serial.

Even though the hunter died in 1998, police are now contacting his children, who have an opportunity to claim their lost father’s rifle.

The problem

According to a recent U.S. Department of Justice study, there is an average of at least 135,000 unrecovered guns stolen in residential burglaries nationwide each year. The main reason for guns not being recovered is that the owners did not record and keep up with their serial numbers.

In Nevada recently, law enforcement has been inundated with calls for stolen guns. Guns that when they are recovered, no one can come reclaim.

“When they are taken, more often than not the owner can’t ID them — they can’t name the make or caliber or serial number,” said Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley told the Reno Gazette-Journal

“So, in reality, when a weapon is stolen, it can’t be traced or returned because we don’t know who it belongs to,” he said.

To help fix this, Haley said he would ask two things: “Take personal responsibility if you own a gun, secure it in your home. And two, keep the serial number in a secure place separate from the gun.”

Monthly ritual

Me and the crew on Gun Day…almost

One thing I like to do in my home is the simple ceremony I refer to as “Gun Day.”

On the third Saturday of the month (you have to set a specific day to do this or you will forget, I promise), I like to spend a couple hours in my mancave going through my personal collection. Now of course, like most gun guys, it varies from year to year, sometimes from month to month as I buy, sell, trade, swap and rearrange my collection.

However, no matter whether you have one old rusty shotgun or a half dozen bulging gun safes, Gun Day needs to happen.

If I’m out of town or something comes up, it GD can be rescheduled but it still happens.

At least once a month.

For me it’s simple. I sit, put on my gloves (I hate to leave excess fingerprints on my guns as the oils and salts left behind can lead to surface rust), and go through my collection. I have a simple Field Note Book that I write down my collection in with the date I acquired the gun, the make, model, caliber, my estimated value at the time, and serial number. The six things fit on one line.

Each month I go back over the book, remove any old guns that have been traded away (or note guns loaned out to friends, trust me, this can help figure out missing guns months later!) and add any new pieces.

While going through my guns I have a chance to notice any issues that may have come up in storage such as rust, dust, and the like, keeping the band going strong.

New guns even get a photoshoot for reference just in case something ever happens to them. Lightboxes are cheaper than you think, and if you don’t have a lightbox, just take a photo on your back porch in natural light.

Speaking of photos, I take a picture every month of that notebook entry and email it to myself, just in case something ever happens to it.

Then it’s back into the safe and cabinet, closet, holster, and nightstand for the collection.

Until the next Gun Day.

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