It’s long been the practice among security-conscious firearms owners to obscure the serial numbers in any photographs of firearms they put up on the Internet. This is because unscrupulous characters have been known to note the serial numbers, report “their” firearm stolen (with that same serial number), and claim the loss against their own insurance policies. The insurance companies then keep the firearm on the stolen property lists, and if there’s ever an inspection (for example, you’re stopped while driving, and the policeman checks your firearm serial number against his database), you may find yourself in trouble. It’s happened to two people I know.
Now it emerges that Google and Facebook (and possibly others) are using optical character recognition to index the serial numbers of firearms in photographs posted or stored on their services.
A serious warning about firearms security
I am one of those who will blackout the serial number of a gun when I post it (and posting pics of my guns is something I pretty much stopped doing). I always thought serial numbers were something nobody but me needed to know about and only if they were stolen, I would share it with authorities and the insurance company. Peter mentions an insurance scam that I was ot aware it existed and which it should make anybody’s butt clench. If we are being SWATted by jackasses, I would not put it past them to file a false police report stating that one of your fully internet-identified guns belonged to them and was stolen, then a month later another asshole drop a fake dime on you and you are arrested for possession of a stolen firearm.
2 thoughts on “Gun photos and serial numbers. Being paranoid was paying dividends”
Possible, I suppose.
However, the date stamp and other information (like it being saved or posted to your account) should make it pretty clear whether you had the firearm before it was alleged to have been stolen.
In which case I’d certainly take every opportunity to file complaints and sue the heck off whoever filed the false reports on me.
I’d bet most gun owners have shopped at amazon, probably many times. Amazon knows every gun we own for which we have made a distinct purchase. Holsters? stocks? grips?
I’d like to see a law banning Amazon from providing such data to government or anyone else for that matter.
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