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Can I Get in Trouble if my Gun is Stolen - 9 Other Things to Know

By Maria Paiz October 23, 2023

Dark blue background with contrasting light blue text: Can I Get In Trouble If My Gun Is StolenThe USA Safe and Vault logo and a photo of a thief holding a gun.

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Table of Contents

Stolen Firearms: What If My Gun Is Stolen And Used In a Crime?

Consequences when someone steals your gun

The consequences of your firearm ending up in the wrong hands can vary, hinging on several factors, such as your location and the specifics of the situation. Regardless, it's vital for you, as a gun owner, to report any loss or theft promptly.

In some instances, the individual who ends up with your weapon can influence potential legal repercussions. Different states have distinct regulations pertaining to weapons handed, intentionally or otherwise, to various individuals. For instance, providing a firearm to a convicted felon or juvenile, a law-abiding citizen who later commits a crime, or a minor can lead to varying penalties.

Certain states like Hawaii even hold the original gun owner accountable for any damage caused by the weapon, irrespective of who currently possesses it, whether a felon or a non-criminal. This underscores the importance of being a responsible gun owner and understanding your jurisdiction's reporting laws and requirements to mitigate any liability effectively and promptly.

Crime Scene: If Your Stolen Firearm Is Used In a Crime, Do You Get It Back?


A gun owner may face legal action if used carelessly. On the other hand, the owner is not liable if the pistol was used maliciously. You might face punishment for a citizen-assisted crime if you failed to take proper preventative steps and a thief stole your firearm, which he subsequently used to conduct an offense.

However, if the thief subsequently uses your weapon to injure or kill another person, the courts will not hold you civilly liable for your role in what many would consider unforeseen conduct.

Homicide Concerns: What Happens If Someone Steals Your Gun And Commits Murder?


It's a deeply distressing situation if your stolen gun is used in a violent crime like murder. While you may not be directly implicated, the circumstances surrounding the theft and your response to it could influence your potential legal consequences.

For instance, if it's determined that you didn't store your firearm securely or you failed to promptly report the theft to local law enforcement agencies, you could be held partially responsible under some jurisdictions' laws. However, if you followed all recommended gun safety practices and reporting requirements, you would generally not be held accountable for the illegal actions of the individual who stole your firearm. Still, the situation would invariably lead to a complex legal scenario that would likely necessitate the guidance of an attorney.


My Gun Was Stolen From My Vehicle - What Should I Do?


Criminals are opportunists, meaning they can steal a gun from anywhere - even your car. The majority of states have no regulations governing how a weapon should be in an unattended car.

Connecticut and California are two of the few states that have laws requiring gun owners to store guns in unattended automobiles properly. In contrast, Oregon and Massachusetts have rules requiring all firearms to be in a secured container such as a safe or a pistol box. It is important for owners of firearms to report their weapon as stolen as soon as the incident occurs rather than wait for later.


Stolen Gun Consequences: What Happens If Someone Gets Caught With Your Gun?


The penalty for failing to adhere to firearm laws, including not reporting a stolen gun, can range from fines to possible imprisonment if you fail to report the theft promptly and the stolen gun is used in a crime. The first offense may lead to a fine of up to $500, with subsequent offenses leading to fines up to $1,000.

Penalties for Lost or Stolen Firearms: What Is The Penalty For Losing a Firearm?


A punishment of $500 for the first infringement and a $1,000 fine for all future violations. House Bill 29 mandates that any person who loses or steals a firearm submit a police complaint within 24 hours of discovering the loss or theft. A punishment of up to $500 for any inadvertent failure to report.

Report Stolen Gun Online: How to Notify Law Enforcement from Home?


It is important first to call the local law enforcement agency to report your stolen gun, then call ATF's stolen firearms program at their toll-free number, 1-888-930-9275, to get further directions. Fill out the report form (ATF Form) and (ATF Form 3310.11A) and mail it to the ATF's National Tracing Center. Always send the original form(s) to ATF and save duplicates for your records. You can then mail it to

Misplaced Firearm? Lost a Gun? Here's What To Do.


To report a theft or loss, first contact your local law enforcement department. It is critical to contact local law enforcement officials as soon as possible after a crime has occurred in order to retrieve stolen guns. If the weapons go missing during inventory, inform the authorities that there is no proof of a crime and that the disposal of these firearms is unclear, maybe due to a record-keeping error.

Affordable Security: How To Secure Your Firearm For Cheap?


 Buying a gun safe is, by far, the best way to ensure that your gun is always safe.

The best part is that keeping your gun safe does not have to cost an arm and a leg, with many manufacturers offering some great options to keep your gun safe.


I'm a victim of a straw purchase. Can a law firm help?


Yes, an attorney or a law firm can guide you through such laws and legal processes if you're a victim of a straw purchase where the buyer isn't the actual transferee. They can assist in establishing an attorney-client relationship to protect your rights.

FAQs (What Readers Want To Know)

What does "straw purchasing" mean?

Straw purchasing is when someone buys a firearm for an individual who cannot legally acquire one. This act is illegal and is one of the methods through which crime guns often end up in the hands of criminals. If you suspect a straw purchase, you should immediately notify law enforcement to help prevent potential gun violence.

Can you trace a gun by serial number?

Law enforcement organizations can use the Obliterated Serial Number Program to identify recovered guns without a serial number. The information goes to the ATF to detect gun trafficking patterns and offenses. 

Can a gun be traced back to you?

Yes. A trace is a record of a gun's history up to the point of sale from a licensed dealer. It will reveal the gun's maker and who owns it.

Can bullets be traced to a store?

Using a microscope, you can find almost every bullet fired from a gun. When a bullet leaves a weapon and passes down the barrel, tiny marks appear on the bullet that is unique to that particular firearm.

How long does gunpowder residue remain on a shooter's hands?

The viscosity of gunshot residue is similar to flour, and it only lasts 4–6 hours on a person's hands. Transferring gunshot residue off the hands occurs by wiping them on anything or even putting them in and out of pockets.

How does a law firm help in cases involving stolen guns?

A law firm can provide invaluable assistance if you're involved in a case related to stolen guns. This could include providing legal advice on reporting laws and requirements, helping to establish an attorney-client relationship for your protection, and assisting you in navigating the legal system to protect your rights.

What should I do if my antique firearm has been stolen?

If your antique firearm has been stolen, it's important to report the theft to your local law enforcement agency or local police department as soon as possible. You should also notify law enforcement about any distinct characteristics, such as unique serial numbers or physical marks, which could aid in the recovery of your stolen gun.

How does reporting stolen firearms help combat gun trafficking?

Reporting stolen firearms can help law enforcement agencies track crime guns, thereby helping to combat gun trafficking, gun violence, and the use of assault weapons. When a firearm is reported stolen, it is entered into a national database. If it is later recovered at a crime scene or found in possession of a criminal, it can provide valuable evidence for investigations.

What is Massachusetts' stance on firearms reporting laws?

Massachusetts has strict firearms reporting laws. The state requires gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms within 24 hours of discovering the loss or theft. Failure to do so can result in penalties, fines, and potential jail time. Always consult with an attorney or local law enforcement for accurate, up-to-date information.


In conclusion, responsible gun ownership is both a right and a duty. This responsibility includes securing your firearms and promptly reporting any theft to law enforcement agencies. These actions can significantly help in preventing gun violence and other related crimes. If you find yourself caught in complex situations, such as a straw purchase, remember that legal help is available.

Investing in secure storage solutions, like a gun safe, can substantially reduce the risk of theft. Safeguard your firearms, protect your rights, and contribute to a safer society. Browse our selection of high-quality, affordable gun safes today and take an important step toward responsible gun ownership. Thank you for joining this vital conversation about gun safety.

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