Originally Posted by Vikingdad
If Robocop isn't right about that his advice is what I would follow. I would never risk getting caught with a firearm that has been altered in that way. Period.
On the other hand, if I lived in a state where FTF transfers are legal I might take the precaution of checking the serial number of a firearm that I am interested in buying before I buy. Wold the local PD do this for you? (please note that I am in CA where FTF transfers are not legal, we must do all transfers through an FFL with the DROS and 10 day waiting period in all cases).
Not only do I have a list with S\Ns (for all manufactured after 1968, or any that have one) of all of the firearms I own, I also keep records of all private transfers to or from me along with ID for the seller\buyer. I firmly believe it is one's responsebility to cover one's own azz. Since the Unsafe Act was passed, I no longer can or will do a private transfer, period. Once I move out of NY, that may change, but I will still continue to check SNs and keep records with a copy of ID of the other party. I have passed up some damn fine long guns (pistols were handled by the county clerk, and with possesion permits the only way to transfer was between permit holders) over the years due to folks not wanting to be included in these records. No skin off my azz, and their choice.
Here's a link to a site to quick check SNs. http://www.hotgunz.com/
As to the OP: First off, my condolences on the loss of your friend, to both you and his family. The aftermath of a suicide is a rough thing to deal with.
Turning in the pistol to LE was the best option in this case. Had it been a rare collector's piece, I would have suggested contacting the ATF, and seeing what your options were, but that was not the case.