Someone broke into your house and stole your firearms while you were at work today. Do you have an accurate inventory so you can tell what’s missing? Do you know the color, make, model, and the serial number of every single gun you own?
In this article, I discuss how to securely and accurately keep track of all of your firearms’ information.
A serial number is a unique identifier, often made up of both letters and numbers, that can be used to identify each unique piece of property: in our case a firearm. Keep in mind, different manufacturers may use the same serial number, so it is important to record the manufacturer (e.g. Smith & Wesson, Glock, etc.) as well as the serial number itself.
We are all humans and sometimes we lose things. Other times our things get stolen from us. In the event this happens, it’s important to have all of your firearms’ information documented so they can be flagged as such in the appropriate databases. Equally important is having a record of any guns you may have sold to someone else.
Thieves and burglars love pawn shops. Why? Because they provide an easy way to turn (stolen) property into cold, hard cash. Did you know pawnbrokers and second-hand goods dealers are required to report the serial number of every gun they purchase? Did you also know law enforcement checks these serial numbers to see if any of them have been reported lost or stolen?
Without the serial number, your gun is just another fish in the sea. But armed with the serial number, you stand the best chance of getting it back.
On another, more serious note, can you imagine the headache you’d have on your hands if one of your guns shows up at a crime scene? Hopefully, you’ve already taken the proper steps to report it lost or stolen. You should also have a record of the make, model, and the serial number of every gun you’ve ever sold, and who it was sold to.
Otherwise, you can expect the police to come knocking on your door. And guess who suspect #1 is?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a plain text Microsoft® Word document sitting on my computer that lists, in great detail, every firearm I own. It’s no one else’s business how many, and what type, of guns I have.
So, how do you securely store this sensitive information?
Well, I thought a little outside-the-box and I actually repurposed a password vault to securely store the information in an encrypted database. Password vaults are meant to securely store all of your account passwords under the lock and key of one master password, but who says they can’t be used to store something else? Like my firearm makes, models, and serial numbers!
There are several excellent password vaults out there. I personally went with KeePass for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s free. Who doesn’t love free? But not only is it free, it’s also extremely secure. The database is encrypted using the best and most secure algorithms currently available. This means no one is getting in without the password. Oh, and did I mention it’s free?
Inside this password vault, I record my makes and models as the "title" and the serial numbers as the "passwords." There’s also a notes section at the bottom that I use to record things such as the color, any identifying marks, and if I’ve sold the gun I also notate the information of the person I sold it to.
Since the database itself is encrypted with an actual password, my inventory is safe and I don’t have to worry about anyone, or any organization, getting their hands on it. But as with anything else, the information is only as secure as the password itself, so make sure you choose a strong one.
You can download a sample vault here. The password is currently set to
password. This is obviously extremely insecure, so be sure you change it if you decide to actually use it.
Now, imagine you’ve spent all that time and effort compiling a list of all of your firearms’ makes, models, and serial numbers only to lose it all in a computer crash, to a virus, or even from accidental deletion. Now you’ve got to start all over. Unless you have a backup.
The simplest way to ensure you never lose your vault is to save it to the cloud. That way, no matter what happens to your computer, you’ll always have the vault saved somewhere else.
I have my KeePass database file saved to my Dropbox so I never have to worry about losing it. The best part is it’s also free. An added bonus is I can securely access my inventory from any computer!
That’s all for now. It’s time to get started logging your inventory. Whether you have a little or a lot, the methods discussed here will handle whatever you throw at it. And while you’re at it, why stop at your firearms? Go ahead and jot down the serial numbers for your TVs, computers, bicycles, etc.!
Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions or if I’ve left something out that you think is important.