University of California Santa Cruz Police Department
UC Santa Cruz PD Policy Manual



Restoration of Firearm Serial Numbers


The primary purpose for restoring firearm serial numbers is to determine the prior owners or origin of the item from which the number has been recovered. Thus, property can be returned to rightful owners or investigations can be initiated to curb illegal trade of contraband firearms. The purpose of this plan is to develop standards, methodologies, and safety protocols for the recovery of obliterated serial numbers from firearms and other objects using procedures that are accepted as industry standards in the forensic community. All personnel who are involved in the restoration of serial numbers will observe the following guidelines. This policy complies with Penal Code § 11108.9.


808.2     PROCEDURE

Any firearm coming into the possession of the University of California Santa Cruz Police Department as evidence, found property, etc., where the serial numbers have been removed or obliterated will be processed in the following manner:



 (a) Always keep the muzzle pointed in  a  safe    Be  sure  the  firearm  is in an unloaded condition. This includes removal of the ammunition source (e.g., the detachable magazine, contents of the tubular magazine) as well as the chamber contents.

 (b) If the firearm is corroded shut or in a condition that would preclude inspection of the chamber contents, treat the firearm as if it is loaded. Make immediate arrangements for a firearms examiner or other qualified examiner to render the firearm safe.

 (c) Accurately record/document the condition of the gun when Note the positions of the various components such as the safeties, cylinder, magazine, slide, hammer, etc. Accurately record/document cylinder chamber and magazine contents. Package the ammunition separately.

 (d) If the firearm is to be processed for fingerprints or trace evidence, process before the serial number restoration is attempted. First record/document important aspects such as halos on the revolver cylinder face or other relevant evidence that might be obscured by the fingerprinting chemicals.


Any employee taking possession of a firearm with removed/obliterated serial numbers shall book the firearm into property following standard procedures. The employee booking the firearm shall indicate on the property form that serial numbers have been removed or obliterated. 



The Evidence Technician receiving a firearm when the serial numbers have been removed or obliterated shall arrange for the firearm to be transported to the crime lab for restoration and maintain the chain of evidence.



Case reports are prepared in order to document the chain of custody and the initial examination and handling of evidence from the time it is received/collected until it is released.

This report must include a record of the manner in which and/or from whom the firearm was received. This may appear on the request form or property form depending on the type of evidence.



After the serial number has been restored (or partially restored) by the criminalistics laboratory, the Evidence Technician will complete a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Tracing Center (NTC) Obliterated Serial Number Trace Request Form (ATF 3312.1-OBL) and forward the form to the NTC in Falling Waters, West Virginia or enter the data into the ATF eTrace system.



Exemplar bullets and cartridge cases from the firearm, depending upon acceptance criteria   and protocol, may be submitted to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) which uses the Integrated Ballistic Identification System (IBIS) technology to search the national database and compare with ballistic evidence recovered from other crime scenes.




Policy 808 PDF