This is the first case I have heard of this but likely it is not the only one. Mlive reported on a face to face firearms sale that went wrong in Grand Rapids for a Rockford man. You can read the article by them here: http://www.mlive.com/
In summary a man from Rockford had agreed to sell a weapon to a person in the 4000 block of Tangle Circle Drive SE in Grand Rapids at 11pm.
The man was approached from behind and robbed of the handgun while walking around the apartment complex searching for the buyer, police said.
The incident is under investigation and anyone with information is asked to call police at 616-456-3604 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.
The following advice is offered by Lt Mark Mathis of the Grand Rapids Police offers the following advice.
Lt. Mathis offered some advice for those completing such sales.
• Complete as much of the transaction as possible via established sites that have built in safeguards (user registration, feedback systems, buyer support).
• Conduct transactions in well-populated areas during daylight hours. Areas that are video recorded may provide additional deterrent to criminal behavior.
• Meet in locations that you are familiar with.
• Know who you are meeting, what they look like, and how they will be arriving to the site.
• Use a third party to complete the transaction if needed. In this specific case some federal firearms dealers may assist in a gun sale for a processing fee.
• Criminals may target an over-eager seller or buyer in hopes that the desire to complete a deal will encourage risk taking. As always, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
As a person has used both Gunbroker.com and other face to face meeting groups found on Facebook I can tell you that while this situation went bad there are many good people out there. The tips offered by the Lt are spot on. If meeting face to face doing so at an apartment complex far from home at 11pm is not the way to do things.
All transactions should be in daylight and in a safe place. Selling a gun face to face is perfectly legal if you follow the laws. Remember that the purchaser in Michigan of a handgun must have a CPL or a purchase permit. As such you may ask the person to send you that information before meeting them.
If trading in a group ask the group members if they have ever dealt with this person. This is not a foolproof method to cut risk but it maybe a help.
I like to bring another person with me to work as a lookout to see if anyone is trying to come up behind me while completing the paperwork.
Face to face sales are a good way to sell old guns without having to go through the hassles of gunbroker. They are perfectly legal and if done right can be a win for both parties. Just be safe out there use common sense and stay alert.