Are Guns Registered in the USA? 5 ATF Databases Exposed

There is quite a bit of confusion surrounding gun registration in the United States. When someone purchases a gun, is it registered to the buyer? And is all the information is stored in a database somewhere? In other words, are guns registered when you buy them?

are guns registered

Generally speaking, there is no system, database, or registry for most American gun owners that tie us to any firearms we own. The Brady Act is the law that created the background check system. The law states that authorities must destroy the records of each background check within 24 hours.

The Firearm Owners' Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA):

FOPA is a United States federal law that revised many of the Gun Control Act of 1968 provisions.

As such, FOPA makes it illegal for the national government or any state in the country to keep any database or registry that ties firearms directly to their owner. The exact wording of the provision is as follows:

No such rule or regulation prescribed [by the Attorney General] after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners Protection Act may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or disposition be established. Nothing in this section expands or restricts the Secretary's authority to inquire into the disposition of any firearm in the course of a criminal investigation.

A few things here are worth noting.

  • First, notice the use of the word “after” in the first sentence. Any law that existed before passing FOPA that required guns to be registered can still exist and is enforceable.
  • Second, don't forget that just because the law says something is illegal doesn't mean someone isn't doing it or that a loophole doesn't exist. For example, in New York City, the NYPD has a record of the manufacturer, model, serial number, and caliber of every firearm (handgun and long arms too). You need to have a registration certificate on your person for every long arm in addition to needing a “Permit to Possess Rifles or Shotguns In New York City” (which are limited to 5 rounds, among other restrictions).  Other municipalities also have a track record of ignoring the Federal Firearm Owner's Protection Act.

Local Jurisdictions that Register Guns:

States that Require Registration of All Firearms

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Hawaii

States that Require Registration of Handguns

  • New York

States that Require New Residents to Report Their Firearms

  1. California
  2. Maryland (handguns and assault weapons)

States that Require Registration of Pre-Ban “Assault Weapons” and/or 50 Caliber Rifles

  1. California
  2. Connecticut
  3. Hawaii
  4. Maryland
  5. New Jersey
  6. New York

Despite FOPA, There Are Some Limited Government Gun Databases

In addition to the local authorities who may disregard the local law, we also know that the ATF keeps at least 5 databases of specific firearms and their owners to include:

  1. are guns registered government databaseMultiple Sale Reports. Over 460,000 (as of 2003) Multiple Sales reports (ATF F 3310.4 – a registration record with specific firearms and owner name and address – increasing by about 140,000 per year). Reported as 4.2 million records in 2010.
  2. Suspect Guns. All guns suspected of being used for criminal purposes but not recovered by law enforcement. This database includes (ATF's examples), individuals purchasing large quantities of firearms, and dealers with improper record keeping. May consist of guns observed by law enforcement in an estate, at a gun show, or elsewhere. In 2010, ATF reported 34,807 guns.
  3. Traced Guns. Over 4 million detail records from all traces since inception. This registration record includes the personal information of the first retail purchaser and the identity of the selling dealer.
  4. Out of Business Records. Data is manually collected from paper Out-of-Business records (or input from computer records) and entered into the trace system by ATF. These are registration records that include name and address, make, model, serial, and caliber of the firearm(s), and data from the 4473 form – in digital or image format. In March 2010, ATF reported receiving several hundred million records since 1968.
  5. Theft Guns. Firearms reported as stolen to ATF. This database contained 330,000 records in 2010. It includes only thefts from licensed dealers and interstate carriers (optional). The database does not interface to the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) theft database, which keeps reports of the majority of stolen, lost, and missing firearms.

Consider the National Firearms Act (NFA):

To learn more about these ATF registries, listen to CCW Podcast Episode 12, The Government’s Secret Gun Owner Database.

It is also worth noting that notwithstanding FOPA, the National Firearms Act, enacted in 1934, does require that certain types of firearms be registered. The database records firearms not commonly owned or acquired by average gun owners like fully automatic firearms and short barrel rifles and shotguns. However, any firearm not explicitly mentioned in Title II of the NFA should not by Federal law be part of any registry tied to a gun owner.

Part of the anti-gun agenda is to enact so-called “universal background checks.” The law is a precursor to follow-up with national gun registration. One cannot exist without the other. Anyone selling one is also going to push for the other.

RESOURCE: Gun Trusts: Owning and Transferring Class 3 Guns and Suppressors

About Jacob Paulsen

Jacob S. Paulsen is the President of provides in-person and online firearm training for American gun owners. The Company is currently teaching in-person classes in 25+ states with a team of more than 55 instructors. Jacob is a NRA certified instructor & Range Safety Officer, USCCA certified instructor and training counselor, Utah BCI instructor, Affiliate instructor for Next Level Training, Graduate and certified instructor for The Law of Self Defense, and a Glock and Sig Sauer Certified Armorer. He resides in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with his wife and children.


  1. brass hopper on June 18, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Just recently a man and I were talking about going fishing and crossing the border to Canada. Customs checked his car for inspection and asked him about his handguns he owns. He did not have any guns with him and they knew what handguns he owns and named the guns in question. He and his family were on vacation fishing. How did customs at the border know he owned any hand guns ? If there is no data base. I attended a seminar a while ago sponsored by national shooting sports foundation and A.T.F.E. agents were there and the question of records data base came up. The question was how long do they keep the records they said six months. But the records are transferred to micro film. Why?

    • Brian on June 4, 2022 at 6:48 pm

      He was from a state or area that had registered databases….

      I have had to take firearms from a state that has registration to one without…

  2. Juliano Ciaramello on December 11, 2015 at 2:57 am

    Apparently there is some fishy shit going on here… what is the truth god damn it!

    • Bob on January 16, 2018 at 11:06 am

      You can’t handle the truth lol

      • LauraL Lynne Ruiz on June 24, 2019 at 6:21 pm

        We have a handgun is a 22 Luger it’s like 30 years old it’s never been fired from it’s never been registered it was my Uncle Bill’s it’s a HP 22 pistol buy Phoenix Arms Ontario California my uncle had it for at least 25 years it’s in the family now can we sell it there’s no paperwork on it it’s never been fired on him and has like 5 magazines

        • Matt W on July 10, 2019 at 6:15 am

          You probably can sell it, but that will depend: if you are a US citizen currently residing in the country, then in which state do you currently live?

          If you are in Hawaii, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, or New York then probably not.

          If any other state not listed above, then you probably can. Go to a search engine and search for your state’s laws on gun ownership and selling.

          • Matt W on July 10, 2019 at 6:37 am

            Oops! I forgot Maryland, Washington D.C., & all of the US territories; add those to the “probably not” list.

            Regardless of whether you live in a “probably” or a “probably not” area, you should still search out the current gun laws in your state, county, & city and be aware of them… ignorance (of any law) does not give you the right to violate a law “accidentally.”

          • dave morgan on December 6, 2019 at 7:20 am

            Yeah, but, who’s going to watch?..Sell it if you want and forget about it…Aging and forgetfulness is a process denied to many – I know that to be so as I read it on the enter net…Enjoy the simple life that many of us seem to enjoy..

          • Mike on October 8, 2021 at 2:23 pm

            All person before they gat a gun need to check background check for all states Unversal check to see if they are mental or criminal record or domestic. Charges to

          • darren brooks on January 3, 2023 at 5:01 am

            yes matt on that ignorance of the law comment . this is happening now . guy charged with felon in possession and its over a high court misdemeanor witch Michigan counts as a felony and federal government does not ,. Also in Michigan you can have your rights restored after 5 years and the way they do that has changed over the years. So my question is can the state be ignorant of the law and then charge you .The state issued him a pistol purchase permit after running his background they then registered the handgun so how can they now charge him

        • Ron Leon on April 3, 2021 at 9:36 am

          We now all know you have that gun ,,,dope !

      • David on June 22, 2020 at 11:13 am

        There is fact not all Gun Dealers is(01)(02 N
        .F.A…Gun Dealers Don,t follow the Federal Law an State Laws of all fifty States in all too. Why? How come this happening a lot too. It true!!! There is 64″417 F.F.L.s holders to in the all the 50 States too. It true

    • David on August 10, 2020 at 8:49 pm

      1. The City of Chicago convidcated over 10’000 + Guns used in Crimes too. Long Guns 0.10 per cent. The rest is Hand Guns is 0.90 percent too. Solution is: those Guns is convated by Chicago Police Dept. Too. Of street Ganges of all 50 States too. They should sent to State of California in L.A. City to Still mill to ship them by box car train too. The still mill will melt all those Crime Guns used serious Gun Deaths by criminals in 50 States : melt it to rebar square strips units or Drain covers too. Street sour drains covers too. Some is rectangle or circle covers regular Sour Drains in busy streets Counrty roads State highways or In get State highways in 50 States too. Do you agree?Mam ? or Sir? What does public think about this on the News A.B.C.C.B.S. N.B.,C. Or Fox news? Thank you David . P.S. Gun Dealers don’t want those Crime Guns in there Gun Stores too. They will reject them too
      I agree! Thank you

  3. Gunnar B on May 11, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Is There A National Firearms Registry – This was a very interesting article – thanks for publishing.

  4. Igor on June 6, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    You people that belive there is a national database are smoking to much weed you are paranoid… For every gun manufactured or imported in the US is test fired 2 times, the first round is kept on file by the manufacturer or the company that conducted the test fire.. The second round is forwarded to the ATF to be entered into the ballistics data base by the weapon serial number.. The only record of owners by serial number is kept by manufacturer and FFL Dealer where purchased. .

    • Jason on November 9, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      What are the FFL Dealers required to do with said information? Keep it locally for 24 hours and toss it? I don’t think that is true. I know there is a lot of things to fill in on the paperwork when purchasing a weapon, including demographics, so it stands to reason they are doing “something” with this information. I live in NY. This state is probably the most restrictive there is. The process looks like this…for the most part

      -Take a firearms safety course.
      -Turn in your certificate and application to the Sheriff’s Dept and pay $100. The application requires 3 people as character references that must live in the same county as you do.
      -Wait roughly 18 MONTHS for a sheriff to get around to doing a “background” check on you.
      -If you pass, and you can be disqualified for quite a few things from what I understand, you can then go and pick up your gun card.
      – When you want to buy a weapon, you have to present your gun card to even hold the weapon at the FFL dealer, pay for it but you can’t have the weapon yet. You must then go back to the Sheriff’s office with a receipt for the weapon. The Sheriff’s office will add your new weapon to your gun card, then you can drive back to the dealer and pick up your gun.

      You are tied to your weapons at the FFL dealers and the Sheriff’s office.

    • Benzpyrene on July 17, 2018 at 2:51 pm
    • Bill on April 9, 2019 at 4:20 pm

      Then how does law enforcement know who the original purchaser was?!!

      • Gene Ralno on May 4, 2019 at 8:04 pm

        They’re not supposed to know. If they know, they’ll eventually get around to confiscation, e.g., Nazi Germany, USSR, North Korea, Vietnam, Great Britain, Australia, Venezuela, and so on. And confiscation leads to tyranny. Sometimes it happens quickly, e.g., Nazi Germany, Venezuela. Sometimes it takes a little longer, e.g., Great Britain. And sometimes the confiscation was incomplete, e.g., Australia, Connecticut, New York, Seattle. When free people stand strong against their oppressors, they usually win. Colorado’s future is playing out right now.

        • David. P Curcione on June 22, 2020 at 11:35 am

          .1.I have a conceal carry g permit reason is it’s right of the Constitution of the bill of rights in libieroty of freedom .
          By George Washington of July 4th 1781 A.D. by first Elected President is number one made he history of new free nation of the bill of rights of IU.S.A.Constotution of new bill of rights free nation is U.S.A. too. Agree? Do you agree Sir.? Or Mam?

    • Danmax on January 31, 2021 at 8:51 pm

      Yes, both my Glock 17’s came with an manila envelope with 2 brass casings right from Glock when they test fired them at their factory. Just so everyone knows, that’s pretty much the standard with every handgun manufacturer. Now you may think it all ends there but it doesn’t. Next, each gun has a serial number in the manufacturers data bank that matches the delivery manifest. Next, Glock’s or Dunham’s wholesaler gets a copy of the serial number.So if Dunham’s is the retailer,so they have a copy of the serial number. Next before it’s sold to you, Dunham’s sends the serial number to the FBI during that 5 -10 minute background check that Dunham’s makes you wait on before you are escorted to the checkout. So Glock, the wholesaler, Dunham’s & the FBI all have a matching serial number of your new handgun before you arrive back home……

      • William M Hilchey on March 7, 2021 at 7:31 pm

        As a gun dealer, I can tell you that firearm serial numbers are not included when a background check is done on the purchaser. The NICS check only needs to know who the buyer is {the information coming from the Form 4473 filled out by the purchaser} and whether they are purchasing a long gun or hand gun.

        When a dealer first receives a weapon from a distributor, the make, model, serial number, who the weapon was acquired from and the day obtained is recorded in the dealers records, formerly known as a “bound book”. When that same weapon is purchased by a customer, the purchaser’s name and address plus the date of the sale are added to the previous information when obtained from the distributor. The only records that exist with the purchaser’s information tied to the gun and the serial is at the dealer’s premises. The information is on the Form 4473 and the dealer’s “bound book” records.

        In order to trace a gun used in a crime, the law enforcement agency has to start with the manufacturer, find out which distributor purchased it, then contact the distributor to find out which dealer purchased it, then contact the dealer to find out who he sold it to. The liability is on the last recorded purchaser. So, if the last recorded purchaser sold, traded, lost or gave the gun away, he better have some documentation to prove it to ATF.

      • William M Hilchey on March 7, 2021 at 7:42 pm

        The spent casings that come from the manufacturer are for the dealer to submit to the State authorities, if required.

        Years ago, N.Y. State had a program called COBIS. The dealers were required to send two spent casings to the N.Y. State Police for every NEW handgun that was sold by the dealer. There was a similar program in a few other states. The theory was that the spent casings could show a unique marking from the firing pin hitting the primer. The bullets themselves were never kept. After several years the COBIS program was abandoned for two reasons – 1. State Police were running out of room to store the casings and more importantly 2. there were never enough successful matches with crime casings to warrant the continued use of the program.

    • Ron Leon on April 3, 2021 at 9:38 am

      Yes there is . You politicians and unionized government employees are the crime gang to fear.

  5. Bob on June 25, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    I have a question that I would like to get your opinion on.

    The 2nd amendment states:
    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    If, as the the amendment states, a “well regulated militia” is necessary, how shall the “state” know who to depend on for said militia, if they don’t know who owns, and will be available to, “bear arms”?

    Please, I would ask that only truly reasoned responses be submitted, so I can get a better understanding on why a national registry wouldn’t be needed to help fulfill the intent of the 2nd amendment.


    • Jacob Paulsen on June 28, 2016 at 10:00 am

      Bob, its a fair and difficult question. I’ve been pondering on this for a day or so. Here are my own personal thoughts:

      First, when the bill of rights was written the government had no idea who had guns. So, even on day one out of the gate the founding fathers didn’t think it necessary to have a registry in order to call up a militia. The people have always been able to use the “town square” to call others to action. Today we don’t gather in a town square but we use other forms of media to get a message out and I still think it more than doable to call up a militia without having a list of those who have firearms.

      Second, I don’t know that the intention… or the current need is for the state to call up the militia as you put it. I think the people have the right to assemble.

      Third, I think while the intent of the authors of the bill of rights is worth understanding and studying it is also up to us the people today to determine how we want to interpret and apply the laws for our own situations. That is why we have a living and breathing legislative and judicial system that is… at very least in theory elected by the people.

      Also noteworthy to this discussion I think is the fact that the federal law prohibits a registry of guns and gun owners and that has never been brought to the court as being potentially in violation of the constitution.

      • Bruce Chaffee on May 31, 2023 at 5:46 pm

        Seems everyone focused on “militia”, when I believe “infringed” is the critical word. If you read the histories of the Constitution, you’ll find that Thomas Jefferson was not party to the writing and composition. He was there , however, and talked with the formers of the Constitution. HE insisted on the second amendment- the shortest and most concise. Others there questioned his reasoning. They said “… of course the people can have arms, it’s how we won our independence!”. Jefferson argued ( obviously correctly) that the future could change the outlook on ownership, and the right to bear arms was to “… prevent a tyrannical government from usurping the rights of the people….”. Sounds kinda like today , don’t it?

    • Matthew Maruster on June 28, 2016 at 1:45 pm

      Hi Bob, good question and Jacob hit on a few things already. I would just also add that the Founding Fathers were extremely worried about giving power to a centralized government and, instead opted for stronger state rights. The idea behind a militia was to be at a state level, and not regulated by the federal government like say the US Army. The selective service is a way for the federal government to have ‘tabs’ on all adult males (and possibly females) if there is ever another need for a draft or mobilization like during Viet Nam.

      The implications of putting people on some sort of national registry list, for simply owning a firearm, creates such a scary precedence that would allow the federal government to keep lists on Americans for whatever reason they seem fit. In addition, these registries cost money to maintain and update, and this money would be passed on to the gun owner in yet another way to dissuade someone from owning a firearm due to more extra fees.

      I think one of the biggest fears, is that a national registry could result in the targeting of Americans based solely on their exercising of a constitutional right. Similar to the well documented issue where the IRS targeted specific groups based on their political affiliation. States still have the option of having a registry, and many states do. For example in California, every firearm that is purchased is registered to the purchaser, and that information can be accessed by law enforcement.

      Leaving it up to states to decide their gun laws, allows the citizen to ‘vote with their feet’ and leave a state that has gun laws that they feel may be too oppressive, and vice versa for someone wanting to live in a strictly gun controlled state.

      • Jade D. Hart on June 20, 2018 at 9:02 am

        Hi Matthew, I liked your responses. I would like to touch base on the ‘extra fees’ Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. This is part of owning a firearm. If they want the firearm bad enough they will pay for it.

        I’m for a Gun Registry, not so Big Brother can find out through my social calendar that I’m sitting around on Saturday nights at my computer writing my book, but I am heartbroken sick seeing kids killing kids at schools. How did they get the gun I ask? they were able to get it because there was no way to ‘flag’ them for their mental illness.

        My husband sold a gun to a friend a few years ago, his friend got pulled over, the police came over and returned the weapon back to him. “Do you want your gun back?”
        How did he find out who owned it?
        He ran the serial number because my husband bought it at a gun shop who still had the records.

        This can work, it will be hard for people to adjust, but we can establish these Big Brother can’t watch guidelines. We need this to flag the problem buyers to stop them from killing our youth.

        • R Applegate on May 27, 2019 at 10:07 am

          First, it is NOT possible to establish effective “Big Brother Can’t Watch” guidelines for registry databases that “Big Brother” controls and has access to. As a minimum, such registry databases would have to be controlled by a completely independent entity with legal status equal to the governmental body.
          Second what you are asking for is a “Background Registry” that includes a mental assessment. That strongly conflicts with HIPA rules, let alone attempting to create the mental assessment itself, without creating subtle or blatant political, religious, or other biases in the “rejection guidelines”. Is someone who has visited or studied in the middle east, or has Iranian relatives a risk? Is every teenager from a “broken” home a risk? Unfortunately many of the “problem buyers” didn’t actually purchase the weapon. How do you Flag them? Where a weapon was purchased, in many of the worst events the existing Background Check system failed or failed to be properly used. The “problem buyer” did not get flagged. Whether the gun was ‘Registered’ or not was irrelevant.

          • John Elrich on June 13, 2019 at 7:27 pm

            Please, we get showered with Iran propaganda enough by our Ashkenazi run Wall Street media. Are you people afraid you missed a few people?

        • Brett on February 23, 2020 at 7:47 pm

          Registration would not have changed the outcome of any of the school shootings. All new purchases have been required to go through the “National Instant Background Check System” for decades, and it has not reduced crime in a statistically measurable way. All these regulations do is make it more difficult for the law abiding citizen to exercise their freedoms. Criminals don’t use the NICS system, obviously because they don’t follow the law…that’s why their criminals

    • Skip Plummer on August 2, 2016 at 3:41 am

      Actually, the way that it is worded, The “people” would be assumed to be armed and to be maintaining their own firearms. It would also be expected, if the need were to arise, that the people would be ready, willing and able to meet the call that a “militia” be formed as needed… that they would be expected to do so.

      A peek at the federalist papers and a few other articles would seem to indicate that this was, in fact, an “unwritten” law and that if any able bodied man between the ages of 18 and 45 was not prepared to meet that call, for whatever reason, that reason should be turned in to any possible group commander, in written form, and that they would then be excused from that duty.

    • Arthur R Tenny on September 24, 2016 at 9:00 am

      So what stops the Federal Agencies from requiring FFL dealers to submit their records?

      • DavidLeeRoth on October 7, 2017 at 10:17 am

        The NRA. Basically that’s it.

      • Thomas Moore on November 15, 2017 at 9:39 am

        A buddy of mine was an FFL and sold MANY guns over the years. I am in his will that upon his death I have the ability to take anything from his house that I want, unsupervised. I am the first person to be allowed into the house upon his death. He explained to me that when he dies my sole job is to remove ALL of his PC’s and paper files and destroy them immediately so the records remain confidential. Due to the pain in the ass that it was for him to be an FFL, he stopped doing it but the records are still there and my “job” still remains.

      • Tom on September 24, 2019 at 5:59 pm

        The Firearm Owners Protection Act is what stops Federal or State agencies from passing laws requiring FFLs to turn over records.

      • Steve on January 22, 2021 at 1:38 am

        The FOPA of 1986

    • Robert Hammonds on April 8, 2017 at 10:38 am

      When you join a group like National Association of gun rights They keep track of there members. This organazation is a front line Militia group. Check it out. You’ll be surprised at the support.

    • Margaret Lind on October 2, 2017 at 5:37 pm

      I think all “calls” for assistance from a state’s militia get answered by that state’s National Guard, and the National Guard of my state (New Mexico) was called up to assist the US in its first invasion of Iraq. I learned this unit specializes in the delivery of fuel for vehicles used when the nation’s forces go to war. They were gone for something like three months (including Christmas!!!)…

      • Margaret Lind on October 2, 2017 at 5:43 pm

        Also, during World War II, several sections of the New Mexico National Guard got called up to help protect Manila, which is how so many New Mexicans became involved in the Bataan Death March and being held as POWs of Japan. My uncle from Carlsbad was among them…

    • Jeff Miller on November 8, 2017 at 8:59 pm

      In the vernacular of the time, “well regulated” meant well trained in the use of a fire arm and keeping it well maintained. It did not mean regulated by the federal government, which would be contrary to the intent of the Amendment, which was to give the people the means to protect themselves from an over-reaching government.

      Under the US Code, the “militia” consists of two parts. (1) the Organized Militia, which today would be the various branches of the National Guard; and (2) the Unorganized Militia, which consists of all males between the age of 17 and 45; all veterans of any age; all women who volunteer, and anyone else above 45 who volunteers. There are no meeting or training sessions. It is the duty of all who fall in this category to own a weapon, know how to use it, and keep it in working order. The section is the legal basis for the Selective Service.

    • Rob Ervin on February 23, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      Bob, there are 2 clauses to the 2nd Amendment. The latter part affirms the right. ” the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

      The 1st clause is a reason for the right, but NOT the only one. The right of self defense is a basic human right. The 9th Amendment gives us that. “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

      The 5th Amendment guarantees that people will not be deprived of life without due process of law. So we ALL have a basic right to defend our lives with any and all means necessary when faced by a deadly threat, and that includes using our right to bear arms.

    • aaron on June 11, 2018 at 8:24 pm

      Read Federalist Paper #46, I posted about this last week on my facebook page. It spells out the intent behind the 2nd amendment. It states clearly that the citizenry are to be armed and act as a militia if a need arises. So basically every person that is willing to or can has a responsibility to arm themselves in order to fight the governments standing army, or any invaders.

    • Al B Clarke on February 2, 2022 at 6:13 pm

      The 2nd Amendment says primarily that “the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The 1986 prohibition against the creation of data bases of fire arms owners addresses this part of the 2nd amendment. As to calling up the militia, the militia consists of every citizen 18-45 (70 is the new 45) capable of bearing arms. There is nor ever has been a roster. When the militia is called, they who can show up when and were directed for training and instruction. If you show up without your weapon, you get sent home. Simple. In colonial days, people in many localities brought their weapons to church on the first Sunday for training after church.

    • Ron on February 4, 2023 at 10:39 am

      What the ammendment is saying is that in order to have a well regulated militia the right will not infringed upon. It in now way says that to have the right you must have a malitia. There is a comma between the two statements meaning both are necessary for the security of a free state but one doesn’t demand the other.

  6. Kelvin Graves on July 4, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    The person that mentioned about smoking weed you must be on it.
    If you were going to Canada and they check your record they have more info on you than our government has.

    • John Foley on February 8, 2020 at 8:26 am

      It was assumed that everyone would have a gun

  7. Mk2517b on August 11, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    As a student of Constitutional Law in the 21st Century, does this make sense? There was no real military back then. So at the writing of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, they needed the abilility to call upon those members ” that well regulated militia” for protection. They didn’t have a quartermaster corps, so bring your own guns and be ready to fight!!! It’s my opinion after years of trying to understand these documents, that was their purpose! They didn’t foresee automatics or suppressed weapons………yes it was that simple. Keep you Guns to hunt and protect, but when we need a militia, supply your own guns too. Well today the National Guard is that militia and they have fighters, A10’s and tanks……… Message sent message heard.

    • Ric Weide on August 31, 2016 at 12:26 pm

      THere is a “well-regulated militia” such as the National guards, AND, there is the unregulated militia, which is the rest of the people. The mere act of self-defense, and the second amendment guarantees the individual the right to own and keep a firearm. These rights, are not to be messed with as the amendment says, “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED”. THat is settled law.

      • David Mason on December 12, 2017 at 11:27 am

        Ah yes, the unregulated “well-regulated” militia.

        • John Galt on February 23, 2018 at 9:25 pm

          You don’t understand what “well-regulated militia” means. Is that a defect or by design?

    • Dave Meyers on June 20, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      I know I am replying to an old post, but the key is a free STATE, it has nothing to do with protecting the UNION, our founding fathers did not want a king. In order for each FREE state to remain free of the union they joined, our founding fathers knew that we had to be able to pull away if needed.

      That was clearly stated in the declaration of independence. They very much wanted future generations to have the ability to pull away from the federal government if they no longer listened to the we the people.

    • Willie on April 7, 2018 at 4:04 pm

      Nowhere in the 2nd Amendment is the mention of guns. The word “arms” is used. That word meant the same then as it does now, that being any device that can be employed either offensively or defensively whether it be a club or a cannon or anything in between.

      • Brett on February 23, 2020 at 7:42 pm

        Actually, it’s the US Constitution that protects our right to keep and bear arms, not some subjective law. FOPA is simply a law passed by our legislators to make it more difficult for future legislators to infinge upon that right.

        A national database is unconstitutional based on our protected right to privacy and unreasonable search and seizure. Please read the construction, it clearly states all of this.

        As US citizens, we have the right to own whatever we want without the fear of the government taking it. This includes firearms in particular as the Second Amendment specifically enumerates this.

        As for the militia, a state “national guard” never existed when the Constitution was drafted, and that is not what the 2A is referring to. Militias were simply groups of armed men who were tired of being pushed around, imprisoned, threatened, coerced, and killed by a tyrannical government. There was no need or even the resources available to creat and maintain such a database, and any intelligent gun owner would refuse to be on such a list, just as they should today.

        Our Constitution specifically states that freedoms not specifically enumerated fall to the states….and don’t forget the important part:: THE PEOPLE!

    • aaron on June 11, 2018 at 8:28 pm

      If you are a student of Constitutional law right? Then you will have read the Federalist Papers right? Because you are absolutely wrong. #46 explains clearly that it is citizens that are to be armed in order to be able to outnumber the governments standing army. Keep studying buddy.

    • R Applegate on May 27, 2019 at 10:24 am

      “The Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA) is a United States federal law that revised many provisions of the Gun Control Act of 1968. As such, FOPA makes it illegal for the national government or any state in the country to keep any sort of database or registry that ties firearms directly to their owner. The exact wording of the provision is as follows:

      No such rule or regulation prescribed [by the Attorney General] after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners Protection Act may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or disposition be established. Nothing in this section expands or restricts the Secretary’s authority to inquire into the disposition of any firearm in the course of a criminal investigation.”

      Unfortunately, as noted in the article, there appears to be multiple improper (illegal?) databases in government possession. Perhaps the most egregious: Out of Business Records. Data is manually collected from paper Out-of-Business records (or input from computer records) and entered into the trace system by ATF. These are registration records which include name and address, make, model, serial and caliber of the firearm(s), as well as data from the 4473 form – in digital or image format. In March, 2010, ATF reported receiving several hundred million records since 1968.

    • R Applegate on May 27, 2019 at 10:40 am

      It isn’t relevant whether the founders foresaw automatic weapons or suppressors (nothing inherently evil there). In fact, repeating long guns and pistols had already been designed and built by that time. The weapons available to the people then were equal or superior to those that the government could purchase. As now, if you could afford it, you could own the best.

  8. John Hall on August 12, 2016 at 11:22 am

    And what do I do if there is a knock on my door and someone identifies himself as government something and says he is there to take all my firearms? Is there a battle at this time and this person is backed by the military? I am certainly going to lose this battle and probably die.

    • Rick Peace on August 20, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Good question John Hall, I;ve wondered that also. Give them up, & live to fight another day? Because after that, THE FIGHT IS ON!!

      • Detroitheat on September 28, 2016 at 11:13 pm

        Rick; my thoughts exactly, but that will only happen once and the next time they will have a target on their backs, they took an oath to uphold the US Constitution, and once they willingly come to confiscate an American citizens firearms, they become the enemy at that point in time, I personally prefer to be on the offensive side, if you know what I mean…..

      • Teddy rosevelt on May 4, 2020 at 5:19 am

        I’ve bought and sold over 2000 weapons.
        Never registered 1 to me and never will.
        In Tennessee I can and do loas my pistol n throw it on the from 1 end of the state and back .cops don’t care because its our right and the law.

    • Gale Stovall on September 2, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      John when they come and knock on my door to take my weapons they should bring my body bag.
      They can take my weapon from my cold dead hands.

    • Doug on May 5, 2017 at 11:45 am

      John, That’s why there’s an Amendment for “Due Process” and search and seizure. No government agency can just show up and take anything without an order from the courts – Warrant. Thereby ensuring due process.

      • John on June 22, 2017 at 6:31 pm

        Lol go to YouTube and watch gun confiscation during hurricane Katrina…no due process National Guard ready to kill their own people!!!
        As for the database I think Snowden showed us that the government does whatever it wants.

    • aaron on June 11, 2018 at 8:30 pm

      You slam the door in their face, shout through the door that you are armed and barricaded in and then before they can cut your internet you get on and start calling for help. Send videos to everybody you can, post on facebook, you do everything you can to get other gun owners to come to your aid. Or just tell them fell out of the boat while fishing, lol.

  9. John Hall on August 12, 2016 at 11:24 am

    Moderation? How?

  10. Lee on August 28, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Ok. I know there going be some none to happy folks here based on my story. ..legacy and all that. But,,.
    My father in law verbal handshake hug gifted us a rare older 22 w a special mother of,pearl or,shell Indian head on,the stock. Beauty FYI l firearm, and he and I ha many special shooting days. The other TV is a shotgun, with which I don’t know much about accept,its,older. ..loads from,the bottom,as,if a magazine but one shell at a time.
    My husband passed in an accidental. Leaving me broken hearted and in charge of three needy kiddos.
    My eldest has some issues, and found a private school truly believe will have her thriving. ..but not a lot if options forbthe last bit of tuition.
    My question after all that is:is there some austem thall show in pawning,or even selling a rifle that was never registered to me? Would it probably be registered to him, since his dad had it back in,the 40s. Or will it likely be unowned and sellable.
    In ashamed to get here but I’m coming,up short on plans. I don’t think he would ever press charges but I think he might be super disappointed and sad

    • Jacob Paulsen on August 29, 2016 at 8:32 am

      Lee, unless you live in one of the localities mentioned above in this article the guns are not registered to your husband or anyone else and you can sell or gift them to anyone you wish. A pawn shop would be a fine option.

  11. Carla Bruch on September 15, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    I have two guns and I need to verify registration proof, how do I find out?

    • Jacob Paulsen on September 15, 2016 at 10:33 pm

      Carla, read the above article. Unless you live in one of a very small number of jurisdictions in this country your guns are not registered.

  12. tim westcott on September 20, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    in the year 2009 i purchased a 2 rifles,shotgun in arkansas and was storing them at a friends house in arkansas. last week i got call from my friend sating that one of my rifles and shotgun were destroyed in a fire. i want to know if there is some where that has those weapons registered so i can get the number to them.

    • Jacob Paulsen on September 23, 2016 at 8:52 am

      They are not registered.

    • sysprog on July 5, 2018 at 5:19 pm

      The dealer from which you purchased the firearm may still have a record of the sale.

  13. Nathaniel on November 19, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    A man and I were also just talking. He said that there is no state or federal registry of firearms and that the second amendment is not going to be repealed, ever.

  14. troyf on December 12, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    This is BS. Michigan law clearly states being in possession of an unregistered pistol is a felony.

    • Jacob Paulsen on December 12, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      I’m no expert on Michigan law. Can you share the statute?

  15. Bren Martin on January 2, 2017 at 2:49 am

    Upon my research (as a layperson) of Michigan law, I found that there is a requirement for a License but not a law to be registered. I think some people confuse the two.

    28.422 License to purchase, carry, possess, or transport pistol; issuance; qualifications; applications; sale of pistol; exemptions; nonresident; active duty status; forging application as felony; implementation during business hours. Sec. 2. (1) Except as otherwise provided in this act, a person shall not purchase, carry, possess, or transport a pistol in this state without first having obtained a license for the pistol as prescribed in this section.

    However, there are some exceptions and there are situations where even if prohibited can still carry a concealed weapon- so I am not really clear on that.

    There are several states where gun registration is required for assault pistols, etc. There is only DC and Hawaii that explicitly require gun registration and conversely, there are some states that explicitly prohibit gun registration such as Georgia and Florida:

  16. Loren Purk on March 17, 2017 at 10:32 am

    How do you regester a used handgun in Michigan

    • Jacob Paulsen on March 17, 2017 at 10:39 am

      handguns are not registered in Michigan

      • andrewmmorgan on July 17, 2018 at 6:38 pm

        Hi Jacob – I’m not so sure that’s true… Every handgun purchase from an FFL requires that the buyer submit a “Pistol Sales Record” (form RI-060)to the buyer’s local sheriff’s office within 10 days of purchase (the specific place to submit to might vary from county to county – I’m not sure).. Even private transfers require the pistol sales record be submitted, which includes firearm details like serial number, barrel length, etc.. The NRA-ILA indicates that Michigan requires registration of firearms ( as well..

        This next link ( is admittedly for a locality in MIchigan, as opposed to state-wide, but it directly uses the phrase ” my registered pistols” etc…

        There’s also a process for an officer being able to obtain pistol records (form RI-147). Both the Pistol Sales Record and the Pistol Records Request forms can be found here:,4643,7-123-1645_3500_4615—,00.html

        Maybe its a technicality on the term “registration”, but…???

        • Jacob Paulsen on July 19, 2018 at 7:51 am

          Thanks Andrew for the insights on Michigan. I wasn’t aware of any of those state specifics.

  17. Rudy Moakley on May 3, 2017 at 5:56 am

    My daughters soon to be ex gave her handgun to his son and refuses to return it. The gun was purchased at a gun show here in Arizona. What recourse does she have in recovering it if she doesn’t have the paperwork she filled out for the purchase?

    • Seth on May 23, 2017 at 10:33 am

      Since you daughter will probably have to sue to get her property back she will have to provide some evidence that it is hers. Unless she has previous records that would indicate her ownership, such as listing on an insurance policy she will have weak stance in court.

      She should probably consider the money spent on this particular gun gone; spent on a course of instruction about property management. Lesson 1: Keep receipts. Sorry.

      — I am not a lawyer. Following my advice without consulting an expert qualified and trained in the field may result in expensive fines or uncomfortable incarceration.

  18. Thom on October 8, 2017 at 9:50 am

    If we register fingerprints, then what is the problem with registering firearms???

    • Jacob Paulsen on October 8, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      I suppose the biggest issue would be that registering firearms is illegal.

    • Matthew Maruster on October 9, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      The only fingerprints that are ‘registered’ are those of criminals or those who voluntarily provide their fingerprints for specific jobs requiring a security clearance or work with children. Furthermore, what would registering firearms accomplish?

      • Tom on January 31, 2018 at 9:18 am

        upon entering the military, finger prints are taken and kept on file.

        • Pat on May 9, 2018 at 9:21 am

          Just registered my firearms at Fort Jackson, SC because I reside on the installation. Army Regulation requires it.

          What Army Regulation doesn’t require (and what the FOPA forbids), is that they merely pulled the information out of some sort of database this time. I submitted weapon types, manufacturers, and serial numbers when I moved on post at Colorado in 2012, and they were able to pull that all that up on a computer 6 years later in South Carolina.

          No bueno.

      • John Hotine on June 8, 2019 at 2:33 am

        Actually I was fingerprinted by The FBI twice to receive seperate visas
        to travel to China. I asked the finger printing Agent why they couldn’t use my first set. He said after they run them against thier criminal data base and the come back clean. They dont save them. It speeds up the process if only criminals are saved. The search already took several days with the computer checking non stop.. also the data base processes hundreds if not thousands of requests every day. For that reason once they are satisfied you arnt a bad guy they delete the info.

    • Steve on January 22, 2021 at 1:40 am

      Registration is 1st, 2nd is Confiscation! Without Registration they don’t know who has them

  19. Ev on December 2, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Having trouble getting facts, I’m a CT resident have several long guns (shotguns, rifles, and muzzle loading rifle) left from my deceased father and don’t have any use for them. So since I’m not a convicted felon, of legal age, etc… I was hoping to find a legal gun dealer that buys used firearms however is there any legal documents required or laws that would stop me from just selling them to the legal dealer. I know it’s an odd question but any help would be very appreciated.

    • Jacob Paulsen on December 2, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      Nothing needed. Just take them to a local dealer and sell them. All good.

  20. Laurie garcia on March 30, 2018 at 7:15 am

    I do. It understand why our country doesn’t require all states to track serial numbers mover to owner. Whether it be for domestic violence concerns or other criminal activity. Why?????? So I have an injunction (10yr. Restraining order). But he states to court he has no Fire arms. He owns multiple I live in fear. And he has control still. If serial number/database it would dispose he truly owns multiple firearms or force him to turn them in to county as law dictates!

    • Jacob Paulsen on March 30, 2018 at 7:38 am

      If you have evidence that he has firearms than that should be sufficient probable cause to warrant a search.

  21. Larry on April 18, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    Washington state does indeed have a pistol registry. The Department of Licensing has been keeping records of all new pistol sales including buyers name, make and serial numbers. Now with (I 594) “Universal Background Checks.” ALL pistol transfers which now include private sales are stored at the DOL indefinitely.

  22. Larry on April 30, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Also want to point out the fact that in 1983 the Washington state Director of Licenses transferred pistol data records to the local Chief of Police and then in 1996 the Chief of Police transferred the pistol record records back to the director of licenses…… FOPA (Firearm owner protection act) of 1986 specifically states that no records be recorded at or TRANSFERRED to a facility owned, managed or controlled by the USA or any STATE from 1986 and on.

  23. Shanna Pierce on May 15, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    How can I obtain a list of all guns that are registered in my name?

    • Jacob Paulsen on May 15, 2018 at 2:06 pm

      Please read above. There is no list of guns in your name because guns are not registered in a formal database.

  24. John A Roskosky on August 8, 2018 at 9:02 am

    What about the form 4473 that you fill out when you purchase a weapon that is kept on file after you get it. That is the biggest gun registration scheme in the country. The Feds/government can come and confiscate those file anytime they want.

  25. Sid Greenfield on September 13, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Sorry to disillusion anyone but at the federal level, both the FBI and the NSA maintain databases of every single firearm imported or manufactured and sold by licensed retail outlets in the good old USA. All ammunition sales tied to credit card transactions are also tracked and recorded.

    The background check process and the info from 4473 ties the gun to the owner and that info is forwarded to ATF which passes it on to other agencies.

    Even the IRS scrubs firearm ownership data from tax filings and trust documents and forwards it to the DOJ which then passes it on to the the FBI and the ATF.

    Fusion centers obtain that data from the above mentioned agencies and merge it with all of the other data obtained on you from many sources. The result is a “superfile”, info from which is made available on request to any of the contributing agencies.

    Typically local law enforcement ( usually the Sheriffs Office ) either keeps its own record, or can gain access to the pertinent fusion information simply by requesting it.

    As a case in point, when Katrina devastated New Orleans, the Mayor obtained the gun ownership data on every single individual in the greater New Orleans area … and sent out hundreds of men in deputized teams to confiscate their firearms “at gunpoint”. The information was so good and so complete that even though most of those people were “no longer home” but scattered throughout the surrounding counties, virtually every last firearm was successfully confiscated in just a few days.

    • TJ on October 22, 2019 at 6:58 pm

      “The background check process and the info from 4473 ties the gun to the owner and that info is forwarded to ATF which passes it on to other agencies.”

      I am a Federal Firearms Licensee, and when someone purchases a firearm from me, I call the FBI and they do a background check (NICS) on the person who has completed form 4473. The only information I give to the FBI regarding the firearm is whether it is a handgun or a long gun. I do not give them the manufacturer, model, serial number, etc. So the gun information is not forwarded to the ATFE. If a firearm I sold is used in a crime, the ATF will call me because they traced the serial number to the manufacturer who identifies me as the FFL to whom the gun was shipped. I am required to give them detailed information on the purchaser; however, the firearm may have been sold/traded one or more times since it was purchased from me by the original owner. There is no requirement in my state for the firearm to be registered, and the sale of the firearm between individuals does not have to be documented. If that firearm that was used in a crime is not owned and possessed by the original purchaser, it may be very difficult to trace it.

  26. Kinky Dong on April 17, 2019 at 7:31 am


  27. Jerry Seinfeld on April 17, 2019 at 7:35 am

    Whats the deal with firearms?

    • Jacob Paulsen on April 18, 2019 at 10:13 am

      Jerry can you be more specific about your question?

  28. Jabronie on April 24, 2019 at 5:20 am

    Watch the news reports after every mass shooting. Within hours of having the suspects name they have a list of every firearm they have purchased from a FFL and where they bought them. The government keeps a list in violation of the law.

  29. Gene Ralno on May 4, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    This is a great article and I’ve returned to it more than a few times. I have it bookmarked. Seems ironic that it was signed into law by one of our greatest presidents, one who was shot and almost killed by a deranged nut. The gun is well documented but nobody seems to care about it. However, almost everyone has heard of John Hinckley. He was incarcerated, mostly in a psychiatric facility, continuously from the time of the shooting March 30, 1981 until September 10, 2016. He was released to live full-time at his mother’s home with a long list of restrictions and requirements.

  30. Jon Morgan on December 26, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Gun owners that resist all these gun laws must gave a reason for doing so. I love guns and currently have about 15, I hope they new all registered, I’m sure some are not at least the ones that were given to me. of course I haven’t used any of them to kill people or even violated any game laws I’m aware of. Anger at complying with more restrictive gun laws is an indication of guilt. Maybe investigations on criminal activity should start with those people and with the NRA, I was a NRA member for a few years when I was young until I got THE LETTER, from the NRA. We had just had a school shooting and the NRA was very concerned, not about the kids that were killed or injured but about gun laws that might restrict gun ownership from people like this. Not one word of condolence to families of the children. JUST, ” DON’T TAKE MY GUNS.” IF THIS IS YOUR STANCE I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU. MY GUNS WILL NEVER BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN HUMAN LIVES.

  31. Henry on September 11, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    I don’t understand why Massachusetts is not listed in every category under “Local Jurisdictions that Register Guns.” It requires all of those things.

  32. Don Alexander on November 13, 2020 at 6:24 am

    Are M1 Garands sold through the CMP in a Fed database? I understand there was a requirement to be finger printed and have a background check run prior to the transaction back in the 80’s. Were these transactions managed differently than a regular gun sale where the background check is not supposed to be maintained in a data base.

  33. Tony G on January 28, 2021 at 11:45 am

    I managed a contract with the “@+f” which supported all the field offices in the US plus the data center in WV. Don’t believe for a minute that a gun can’t be traced to an original buyer if sold by a documented process, i.e., FFL dealer. If you do sell a piece of personal hardware, I recommend you create a bill of sale and keep a copy of a signed bill of sale for self defense purposes if ever needed.

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