Finally, you find a great deal on a handgun you’ve been eyeing for months. Fast forward a couple of years. You walk out to your car in the morning and find that your window has been smashed, things inside your car are strewn about, and your handgun is missing. The unfortunate reality is this is one of the most common incidents we see: stolen firearms.

Here are the three critical mistakes we see folks make when it comes to stolen guns.

The first big mistake, is not keeping records of your firearms. If your firearm is stolen, you’re going to need to know the make, model, and serial number to report it stolen to the police. It’s common for people to buy a gun and never write down this information until it’s too late.

The next critical mistake we see is people not reporting the gun as stolen at the time the incident occurs. When you realize that your firearm has been stolen, the first thing to do is call the police and report it. Once it’s reported, the police will enter the firearm as stolen into a database used by law enforcement. It should stop there, but, sometimes the firearm’s not properly entered or when it’s recovered by police, you’re not notified. Many police departments will periodically follow-up with you, to make sure it’s still missing. If not, it’s smart to follow-up with law enforcement every year or so, to check on the status of your gun.

To review, the best way to ensure you either recover a stolen firearm or are not associated with any crimes committed with your lost or stolen gun, it’s important to keep the proper documentation. Report the firearm as stolen to the police at the time it’s stolen, and follow-up with law enforcement on the status of the gun, periodically.

The steps that I’ve just described are the same if your firearm happens to get lost instead of stolen. Except, when you notify law enforcement, let them know that the gun is lost and not stolen. In an upcoming video in this series, we’ll go into greater detail on what documentation to have, and how to keep this information secure.

Note: These are important tips, and steps that you can take to deal with lost or stolen firearms. Some jurisdictions have some additional legal requirements, above and beyond those described in this presentation. When you report a gun lost or stolen to your local law enforcement, it’s recommended that you ask them about any additional requirements and immediately call U.S. LawShield, and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.