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Posted By FFL Dealer Network on 10/28/2019 in Firearm News

Are Google And Facebook Making a Photo Gun Registry?

Are Google And Facebook Making a Photo Gun Registry?

Google and Facebook may, and we stress may, be using gun images to create an online gun registry.

The Firearm Blog ran a check with guns after learning how Google was using car license plates in images to make searchable pictures. Their results show gun pictures linked to serial numbers. The Google search used the number in quotes, according to them.

We tried the same thing using serial numbers The Firearm Blog and Second Amendment Daily used.

Just using the serial number alone, no gun showed up image search results, as least as far as we were willing to look. Including "serial number" as well as the serial number showed images of the gun in the article. The picture was also linked to The Firearm Blog article about blurring serial numbers and other articles that used the same image and referenced back to the same blog post.


We ran another check. We looked up pictures of guns online and found serial numbers.

Here is one. Serial number clearly visible.

Google says "Your search - serial number "DS31461" - did not match any documents."

Another search gave this result: "Your search - serial number "MN298695" - did not match any documents.

It is possible these firearms have faked serial numbers. The Academy Gun Shop 1911 has the serial number engraved with the pin strike method; a series of dots are hammered into the metal. In the enlarged image of the handgun, the serial number and the engraving method are clear. It seems to be a lot of work to add a fake serial number.

We pulled another number. "V0995779" gave no results. Changing the zero to an O, just in case, again gave no results. This serial number was taken from GunBroker for a used Mossberg for sale in a pawn shop. It makes no sense that a pawn shop would modify a picture to change the serial number.


When the serial number is clear, as in the examples above, pulling the number is easy enough for a human. Can a computer do it? Anyone familiar with letter and number captchas can see how easy it is to distort letters and numbers so a computer can't read them clearly. Optical Character Recognition, how a computer reads numbers and letters, is advancing but is not there yet.

Further, if the original image is fuzzy or the resolution is not high enough to read the number, no computer or photo editing software can make the number clear and accurate. In other words, if the digital information is not there, it cannot be made clearer. Generating clear images from blurred pictures is Hollywood fiction. Optical Character Recognition simply cannot read what is not there to begin with.

Further, if the search engine giant does make a gun registry, all it can show is you posted a picture of a gun with a visible serial number. That is not proof of ownership.


Always hide the serial number when you take pictures of guns. Someone can take the number and claim it was stolen. With the number and a good picture of the gun, so they can describe it, they have a good case. It's then up to you to show how you came by the gun legally.

The Firearm Blog takes a long look at the idea and comes up with the opposite conclusion.

The Firearm Blog's report makes a lot of suppositions about what the police will do if given a report of a stolen firearm. It also supposes you keep the receipts.

What if you bought it second-hand from someone and no paperwork changed hands?

Why make it easier for gun grabbers and thieves? Why give anyone more information than they really need?

If you don't have access to photo-editing equipment, put a piece of tape over the number. Do not grind or file off the serial number. Removing the serial number from a gun is a crime in many states. Here is North Carolina's law for an example.

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