There are many reasons why asking gun owners to draft a comprehensive list of their possessions strikes fear in their hearts. Not only would their homes be targets for theft, but being listed on a national or public registry causes tremendous concern of target taxation or worse, confiscation. However, there are also many reasons why gun owners should should keep a personal firearms inventory log. This article addresses why a list is recommended and how to document appropriate information.
In case of fire, flood, other natural disaster or theft, a documented list of firearms damaged or stolen is necessary. To file a claim with an insurance company, the information will be necessary to process the claim. If the firearm was stolen, law enforcement will need to know make, model, and serial number.
There are several examples of inventory logs you can download or purchase a bound book with a quick Internet search. Our Personal Firearms Inventory spreadsheet includes the data that should be documented. It is also a good idea to have a picture of each firearm to document the condition it is in while it is in your possession.
Having a digital file on your computer, jump drive, or private storage app where you can safely and securely keep this information digitally makes it easy to maintain. If you are concerned about data security, you could keep this in a printed form, but keep a duplicate copy in a secured off-site location.
In states that allow private transfers, gun owners will be accountable for what they have, where they got it and who they transferred it to. When a firearm is new to your collection or no longer in your collection, it is important to have the name/contact information of who you purchased the firearm from or who you sold, especially should that firearm be involved in a criminal act.
ATF can track firearms without a national database or registry, but it is a lengthy and complicated process. If a firearm is used in a crime or for whatever reason the ATF wants to know who is the owner of the firearm, the process starts with contact to the manufacture to find out what Federal Firearms License Dealer (FFL) it was sold to, then they contact that FFL to find out who they sold it to or even maybe did another transfer to another FFL, eventually until they find the individual or company has possession of it. If your 4473 on file with your FFL puts you as the last person on record, you are technically the last known owner on the “books.” If you do a personal transfer and do not have any documentation of the transfer, it can make a sticky situation more sticky for you. Here is an example of a Private Transfer Form:
The More You Know…
As you add information to your personal firearms inventory log, you might choose to add columns to include maintenance or modifications, value increase or decrease, and if you have insurance covering that firearm. A quick Internet search will give you several options for firearms insurance that goes above and beyond your homeowner’s policy. This is not the same insurance you would get for Use of Force and Personal Defense. Depending on the size and value of your collection, as well as your annual budget you are willing to invest to insure your collection, you will need to spend some time and decide which company and coverage is the best fit for you.