I wasn't going to write about this, because in a way, it's a "well, duh, what did you expect" sort of occurrence, but it finally hit home and pretty well had me POed.
Some time ago, I bought a Kimber Custom Classic 1911 from Rusty's in Wichita. I really wanted a Kimber, and no one in my area had them. I had to go to Wichita, buy the gun, and come back after the "cooling off" period to pick it up.
Fast forward several years - I buy a Kimber Eclipse (yeah, the one with the external extractor, but it hasn't given me any problems). I didn't really want to trade off the Custom - it was running good and I liked it a lot. However, one of my best friends was suffering from brain cancer. The local docs gave him under six months to live. He had always wanted a 1911, but with a wife and three young boys, plus this coming on, there was no way he could even begin to afford a decent one. Nor was he going to buy any gun at that time.
I felt like he deserved to have that Custom. He'd enjoy it, and there was a very high chance it would be the last time he could. He ended up getting treatment from the Cancer Treatment Center at Tulsa, OK. They opened up his skull, and removed most of the tumor. What was left was radiated and chemoed. It's been close to six years now, and he has shown no signs of remission. It is still a Sword of Damocles hanging over his head, but life has been good for him and those who love him.
His oldest boy, my godson, really screwed up a couple months ago. He was arrested with his Dad's Kimber in his possession. Dad hadn't given permission, and had no idea his gun was with his son. The "trace" ran to me and ended. My friend either needed a notarized statement from me stating he was the owner for him to pick up his gun, or I needed to pick it up.
4473's are to be kept by the dealer for twenty years. If the dealer goes out of business, the ATF takes over the records. I have found no information on how long they can keep this data, if they are required to purge it at all. Rusty's went out of business some years ago. So, no matter what happens to that gun, it is "mine" to the ATF, and to law enforcement agencies everywhere.
I was not notified of any of this. Obviously, I've now become someone who has had a criminal investigation pointed my way. You can bet this incident is on a file somewhere with my name on it. If someone steals a gun I've sold years ago from the buyer, I'm gonna be on the hook for it. If this happens again, how long will it take for someone from the ATF to think "straw buyer?"
The case against my godson was thrown out of court. Did this make any difference to the authorities holding the evidence? Nope. My buddy was notified that he needed to take care of this situation, because the gun was headed to the shredder otherwise. So, off we went to Finney county.
I was (and still am) somewhat peeved. I really felt like giving the evidence clerk a piece of my mind, but sanity prevailed. That is not the hill I want to die on - giving some clerk a bunch of trouble in the county law enforcement building. My buddy, while sympathetic, also just wanted his gun back with no more drama. So, I presented my driver's license, the clerk handed me the gun case they had confiscated, and I asked if I could give it back to my buddy. "It's yours, do what you want to" was the answer. Really? It's mine? Maybe in your eyes, but not the real world. My buddy is the owner of that gun, not me.
So, when the debate about gun registration swirls about us, and everyone gets foamy at the mouth, keep this in mind. Registration is already here, it's just not as widespread as they want.