Ohio Rolls Out Stolen Gun Portal to Increase Sales Transparency

Ohio this week rolled out its Stolen Gun Portal, an online database that prospective buyers and sellers can use to determine if the gun they have in their possession has ever been reported stolen. 

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost spearheaded the effort, which he hopes will both deter criminals and help law enforcement return stolen guns to their rightful owners.  

“With our new portal, when buying a used firearm, private citizens and firearms dealers can instantly check to see whether a gun was previously reported as stolen,” Yost said. 

“This is a tool for gun buyers and law enforcement alike that will lead to the recovery of stolen firearms and serve as a deterrent for criminals seeking to make a quick buck,” he added.

To check to see if a gun is hot, users simply enter the firearm’s serial number into the searchable database.  If there’s a match, the user is then instructed to contact the law enforcement agency that made the report. 

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“We believe this will assist law enforcement in Ohio with the recovery of many stolen weapons, which will enable us to return them to the proper owner as well as keep stolen firearms off the streets and out of the criminals’ hands,” said Hardin County Sheriff Keith Everhart, president of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association. 

“The sheriffs’ association is very pleased with the rollout of the Stolen Gun Portal from Attorney General Yost’s office,” said Hardin.  

There is no law on the books compelling gun owners to use the database, at least not yet.  Moreover, supporters emphasized that it is not a gun owner registry.  

Eric Delbert, the owner of L.E.P.D. gun store, applauded the move.   

“When we started our business 8 years ago, we recognized that changes need to be made to allow reputable stores such as ours the ability to provide customers the security of knowing if they purchase a used firearm from our store, it was not previously stolen. Surprising to many, this was not the case in Ohio,” he said in a press release obtained by GunsAmerica.  

“We also foresaw an opportunity where this service could be utilized not just by any firearm enthusiast wanting to insure they were not supporting the illegal sale of firearms from criminals,” he continued. “AG Yost heard our experiences and set forth the resources to create this new program in Ohio. It is only one step to help reduce violence in our community, but it is certainly a small victory in helping take away avenues for thieves and criminals to advance their illegal activities of selling stolen firearms to unsuspecting good citizens.”

GunsAmerica reached out to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association, to get its take on the portal.

“The NSSF wants to ensure firearms remain beyond the reach of those who should not have them. A voluntary check system to ensure a firearm isn’t stolen property protects the retailer and the potential customer,” said Mark Oliva, the organization’s Director of Public Affairs in an email to GunsAmerica.

“There are reservations, however over liability to the retailer if a firearm is discovered to be on that stolen property list and there are concerns that this voluntary method could be become required for mandatory use,” Oliva cautioned.

The portal is updated with new information each night between 11:00 and 11:20 p.m. Users are asked not to use it during this timeframe as it could return inaccurate or incomplete results.

What are your thoughts on Ohio’s Stolen Gun Portal?

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About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Richard February 19, 2021, 3:10 pm

    Someone with intimate knowledge of manufacturers’ serial numbering systems could enter random serial numbers and falsely claim a stolen weapon. Some innocent soul in the future might have such a weapon and open a real can of worms for them, depending on what is done with this information in the future. Who knows, but I am hesitant to trust anything to do with gov’t.

  • George R Lurz February 7, 2021, 10:46 am

    Just about every comment I’ve read here says one thing, YOU CAN’T TRUST GOVERNMENT, FEDERAL, STATE OR LOCAL! But I hope and believe there is one organization that could be trusted, even with this information that’s the NRA. Maybe if they stepped in and ran such a data base I wouldn’t be so spectacle, so long as no information was stored on the search.

  • Walter February 5, 2021, 8:15 pm

    The problem comes up with pistols like Lugers and P38s where the serial number is really a manufacturer, year, number, and letter suffix. A friend had a 4” Luger seized when a 6” with the same number was reported stolen in Washington state. It’s a good idea, but there’s a big chance of error.

  • paul February 5, 2021, 3:04 pm

    Not sure how much a dent this will have? Criminals will get them black market/steal them, use them and toss them in a lake (or something) when the heat gets too close. Then what happens when ser#’s are mis-entered in by mistake?????

  • Click Bang February 5, 2021, 2:08 pm

    Just used it and checked a gun that I bought in another state online…. It only checks the stolen database in Ohio… Only asked for a serial number and nothing more….

    • MASTERMECH48 February 6, 2021, 9:45 pm

      Being as it only seems to affect OHIO, it is 49 to 1 USELESS, WHY????? It should cover any site keeping records on such items.

  • Click Bang February 5, 2021, 1:40 pm

    It does verify the fact of wether a purchase should be avoided… But, also get put on a list of doors to knock on when the government wants to come knocking… Everybody that has purchased a brand new legal firearm is already on that list…

    Not that they cannot find you from putting your information on a site like this with your email address…

    I am already on a list in my county from transferring two hand guns at the same time…

    So this list can verify if they are legal or stolen… I would rather turn them back to the rightful owner if they are stolen, and I would surely not want to get caught with them if they are stolen….

    Will the rightful owner really get them back…???? Doubt it…. Probably be destroyed…. But this could get a lot of illegal guns off of the streets, and illegal guns are the ones that are used by most criminals…

    A double edged sword….

  • greg February 5, 2021, 12:31 pm

    I can see both sides on this. As someone who has had firearms stolen, and then found out there is no place to report it other than the local PD, it seems like it could prevent trafficking in stolen firearms by SOME people.
    Where did my gun go? State lines seem obviously irrelevant . If someone steals a gun in Ohio, now they will just go to Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, etc and sell it at a pawn shop.
    If my serial number was entered into the system the day after it was stolen, then gun purchasers nationwide would be able to check and see if the gun was stolen. Insurance companies would likely be the driving force as they could recover valuable assets and then since they paid a claim, they could remove the gun from the list and make it “clean” again and sell it through distributors or FFLs.
    If I purchased a used firearm through a dealer, and it had been stolen 10 years ago, well, if the gun was taken from me by authorities, I would demand restitution from the party that sold it to me, and they would go after who sold it to them etc. until it got back to the actual party receiving stolen goods, who SHOULD take the loss.

    It also seems like this could be a nationwide system almost instantly as the police all over the country have serial numbers and descriptions of stolen guns on file and nowhere to post it. Unless perhaps there is already a system and the public or retailers don’t have access to it.

    • Stephen Vitale February 5, 2021, 6:06 pm

      I too had a few rifles stolen from a break-in years ago. Most were hunting rifles that will never be used in a crime, so will never surface in a NCIC serial number check. My serial numbers are in NCIC. The guns could, and probably have been sold, to licensed dealers over the years, since there is no requirement to check NCIC when a dealer takes a gun in on trade. Dealers in most states only rely on their intuition when take a gun in. Until someone uses that gun in a crime, it will never ever surface, and I’ll never get them back.

  • Don Dilbert February 5, 2021, 10:14 am

    This is yet another Trojan Horse plan to get around legal prohibitions on registration. How will one input his search? By computer or phone, traceable and recorded for all time in the vast database of big brother. Our only protection from big government intrusion into our lawful ownership of firearms is not to let them know we own them in the first place. It’s none of their business! Period!

    “So, Mr Gunowner, we see you requested a serial number search on a certain high capacity firearm which has since become illegal for you to own. Can you produce said weapon or provide the identity of the person to whom you sold it, under punishment of felony prosecution for perjury regarding a forearm?

    And you would trust the deep state, the FBI or ATF with this information? Are you crazy? Personally, I would take reasonable precautions to avoid buying a stolen gun, but once it’s mine, it’s mine. If it was stolen in the past, too bad. Not my problem, and I certainly would never trust the government to give it back to the victim of the theft. They can’t even be trusted to return stolen property held as evidence in good condition.
    Further, if you know it was at some time stolen, you are now in possession of stolen property. Can you identify the person from whom you bought it? Do you have proof of lawful ownership? Will you get your money back? Don’t be ridiculous.

    The next step will be to criminalize the non-reporting of a firearm theft. Gunowners will have to prove why they don’t have the gun that government knows they have. Was it sold? To whom? Destroyed? Lost? Gifted? Improper unauthorized disposal will become a felony. And we are all immediately and retroactively guilty as charged.

    Now, if a pawn shop owner wants to run serial numbers this way, I’m for that. I don’t trust some of the people who would provide those guns to pawn shops. But don’t kid yourself, the bureaucratic swamp authorities will never make any attempt to return a gun to its rightful owner. They hate guns, and gun owners. They dismiss the 2nd Amendment as moot. They’re not looking out for your best interests. If, after the last 4 years, you trust administrative government to act on your behalf, you need to re-evaluate.

    So, a voluntary process to tell the deep state where you hide your treasure? No freaking way. I can’t believe pro-gun folks would even consider it. Go to the bathroom and get your copy of the Constitution and re-read the 2nd Amendment. See that part about “shall not be infringed”? How does this scheme fit with that?

    Just my 2 cents.

    • Tony McSwain February 5, 2021, 4:46 pm

      I thought of this software several years ago and talked to some politicians about it. I think it is a great deal for us that trade anywhere. BUT it definately could be missued to create a database, one for the weapon being checked and one for the person doing the checking at least.

      No matter what you think, you cannot trust one hundred out of one hundred people. Someone will turn something like this to there own advantage and when it comes to cutthroat politicians and federal agents, if this has gone into effect, 10 seconds after that happened the fed agencies were using it for their own political purposes.

      All of the political and citizen partisan violence for the last sevral years but specifically the last year, should be enough to show even the most out of touch person on the planet that people will use whatever, do whatever they want becasue “they are right” and everyone else is “wrong”.

  • Captain Dave February 5, 2021, 10:08 am

    As most have already alluded to, the government can’t do anything right. Here is a simpler option: Put the data base on line so that it can be searched anonymously. This also means that absolutely no information is saved from the person doing the search. If you find that a gun is stolen, then you decide how you want to handle it from there. I know I wouldn’t want to buy a stolen gun and it would likewise be comforting to know that a gun that I’m buying wasn’t stolen. This would also be effective in lowering the market sales of stolen guns, while not hindering the honest citizen in any way.

    • Tony McSwain February 5, 2021, 4:49 pm

      No such thing as annonymous online. Anyone that thinks there is any privacy of any kind on the internet is delusional.

      Sad state of affairs. Unfortuantely I work with network IT people and know a little of how the Internet and it’s systems work. Not even going to try to say I know a lot, even our best IT engineers are not dumb enough to make that kind of statement.

    • BF February 6, 2021, 12:10 pm

      that would be nice
      Could it be done by make like 38 special or 357 or whatever that would be great

  • Eric February 5, 2021, 9:26 am

    Who owns the search data? How long do they keep it? Who has access to it?…FEDs? Ins.Co.s? FOIA?

    • Randy February 5, 2021, 3:52 pm


    • Tony McSwain February 5, 2021, 4:50 pm

      1. The internet and every government on the planet, so, everyone.
      2. Forever
      3. Whoever has the best computer skills

  • TPaine February 5, 2021, 7:28 am

    As an Ohio resident, I considered using this to check my used guns. I think you would have to trust government a lot more than I do. Let’s see…give them a list of guns not locatable from 4473s ? No, not today.

  • Joel Turner February 5, 2021, 7:15 am

    On the surface this looks good unfortunately, the devil is in the details. When this voluntary program becomes legislation, the law and that’s where it’s headed, it will segway into gun registration nationwide which will morph into gun confiscation; good ole mandatory government buyback.

    Unfortunately, for the evildoers and law breakers this will not even be a speed bump to their nefarious activities. For legal firearm owners who attempt to resist and try to keep their firearms you will become a felon. If caught in possession you will lose your ability to protect yourself and loved ones, social security, healthcare, personal property and constitutional freedoms, and be imprisoned because you are now a felon and this law will be enforced unlike most others!

    But the true lawbreakers will operate with impunity and the illegal aliens will continue to pour into this country stealing our wealth and freedoms! Come Lord Come!

  • Dr Motown February 5, 2021, 7:11 am

    It won’t stop criminal-to-criminal gun transactions, and might actually criminalize someone who inadvertently bought a stolen gun years ago and now tries to sell it

  • Frank S. February 5, 2021, 6:57 am

    Why can’t the FBI or ATF run something like this on a national level????

    • Clem February 5, 2021, 9:20 am

      Not to be critical but 30,000 plus emails classified on a private server and an agency who is politicalize pending rule changes as the climate changes.

    • James February 5, 2021, 9:36 am

      I like the idea of the gun search but I would hesitate to have federal involvement. I’d rather see it done at a state level with state control.

  • Billy M February 5, 2021, 6:20 am

    It sounds like a step in the right direction. Since there is not a lot details about the bill, there needs to be some built-in protections to ensure that some future anti-gun politician cannot use this system to punish law abiding citizens.

    • Randy February 5, 2021, 3:55 pm

      Anything made can be screwed up

  • Ed February 5, 2021, 6:09 am

    As described, it is a great thing as long as it remains a voluntary deal. I myself have had a rifle stolen many years ago. It has never been recovered, even though it is a one of a kind. It was my first self built 6.5×55
    swede. I had cut the barrel back to 20″, personally cut and welded a turn down bolt for a scope, drilled and tapped it for a scope, installed a timney trigger with the remington type safety and modified the stock to fit
    in a mannlicher style. That rifle proved to be a tackdriver the day I finished it and sighted it in at the local
    range. All that remained was to finished blueing the area where I had removed the original military sight.
    Someone stole it from my truck that night in my yard. They left a collectible 30-30 in the truck seat and took that rifle from BEHIND the regular cab truck seat. Broke my heart.

  • Pete Farri February 5, 2021, 5:50 am

    As a dealer, I can tell you how comforting a national database like this would be. Of course, like the NICS system, it would only be as good as the reporting from the individual states made it.

  • Stephen Fusco February 5, 2021, 5:09 am

    My only concern would involve the cases of discovery of stolen firearms which were stolen years ago and the original owner had died and their estate settled. What happens to the firearms? Taken buy police? Continued into commerce and their serial number removed from the list?

  • steve Hammill February 5, 2021, 3:36 am

    It could be a useful tool for civilian gun buyers. However, government will get involved and screw things up.

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