What Is a Deactivated Gun?

Guns are the most dangerous tools responsible for mass destruction of property and life, especially when they land in unauthorized hands. Malicious groups and criminals can access and use these weapons for their own selfish gains or further their agenda. Thus, to protect lives and properties, the government finds it necessary to conduct and register gun deactivation.

So, what is a deactivated gun? A deactivated gun is a weapon that has gone through conversion, such that it cannot fire any bullets or missiles. This deactivation process is permanent and remains so unless a skilled specialist reverses it. Through deactivation the weapon ceases to be an active firearm, especially when it bears a deactivation seal and when the owner has proof that the weapon cannot fire.

The issue of weapons and weapon deactivation is quite a tricky subject; however, we will go deeper to provide answers to your questions. We highlight the definition and importance of gun deactivation and tell you how the process works. Read on as we examine the ins and outs of gun deactivation.

When a weapon is effectively deactivated, it means that the gun cannot fire bullets or missiles; hence, it ceases to be a firearm. For proof of deactivation, it has to bear a seal from the state's Secretary that clearly indicates that it is no longer an active weapon.

Similarly, the individual or group has to get a written certification that confirms that the gun is deactivated and incapable of discharging any shots. The most important document that the owner needs to have is the certificate, which proves that the process is legal and successful.

Needless to say, deactivation is different from conversion; while a converted weapon can still fire, the deactivated one is utterly impossible to operate. Thus, it is necessary to ensure that the deactivation process is effective.

If the gun is not properly deactivated, it is illegal to sell it or gift it to someone else. The exception to this rule is that legally, a museum can give or sell such a gun to another museum as long as both museums are licensed to carry.

So, how do you tell if a gun is not well-deactivated? If at any time the weapon was a fully functional firearm, then it became deactivated, it must meet the technical criterion for deactivation. If not, it means that the gun is defectively deactivated and is dangerous to keep in your procession.

It is also worth noting that there is another category of deactivated firearms; these are weapons in the class of world trophies "DEWAT." They are weapons that the world war era servicemen took back to the country to keep, like souvenirs or war trophies. For these weapons, the IRS has the mandate to deactivate them. With so many rulings surrounding the deactivation of these weapons, it was clear that these firearms were harmless but still retained their trophy value. Moreover, the government permitted the owners to transfer them without any additional taxes.

Importance of Gun Deactivation

It is important to have a weapon deactivated. By doing so, the state's authorities can deregister it from the list of their record bureaus. The following are some reasons why gun deactivation is necessary:

  • For the owner to freely keep the weapon as a souvenir/ memento; when the gun is effectively deactivated, you are free to mount it or install it as a personal item.
  • It is important when one wishes to keep the weapon within the family; this way, the weapon remains within the family. This instance is prevalent among families where a member is deceased, and they wish to keep his/ her service gun.
  • When the gun is deactivated, there is no need to register it as an active firearm. It is by law exempted from requiring registration or license.
  • It is crucial for the protection of life and property. If an active gun lands in the wrong hands or a child/ untrained user accesses it, it can be lethal. Thus, the weapon needs to be effectively deactivated.

How Do Guns Get Deactivated?

Guns get deactivated by rendering them unable to fire bullets, shots or any other type of missiles and ensuring they can't be reactivated easily. The deactivation is designed to be permanent, but reactivation is still possible by skilled people using specialist tools.

Only registered firearm experts can take care of your gun deactivation needs. They take charge of all the required paperwork and effectively deactivate your weapons for you. They also ensure that you acquire the right proof that your gun is effectively deactivated.

When successful, it means that your weapon can no longer fire. Thus, you are clear to keep it even without a certificate of possession. Consequently, you can also display it at your home, and you don't need to keep it locked up in a cabinet since it is no longer a safety threat.

It is highly discouraged to personally deactivate a gun even if you know your way around it. For instance, some gun owners are skilled enough to disarm a gun by barrel filling or manipulating the firing pin. However, disabling a gun from firing is not proof that you have rendered it inactive.

It would be best if you still took it to a qualified dealer to ensure that you meet the deactivation criteria and obtain the needed proofing. Whether a serviceman or a civilian, it would help to be on the right side of the law in gun ownership matters.

What Does the Law State About Gun Deactivation?

As earlier stated, gun possession is a tricky topic that the state has to get involved to ensure that the process is streamlined. However, note that the laws vary according to the state and the particular country you reside in. But let's take a look at some of the most common legal requirements for gun deactivation.

  • Before deactivating your gun, a licensed dealer will have to confirm that you are the gun's licensed holder. Hence, you may need to show a valid permit or certification.
  • If the said gun belonged to a deceased serviceman or a licensed holder, the one requesting deactivation must provide a valid letter from the relevant license bureau. The letter must clearly authorize the deactivation.
  • Upon successful deactivation, it is necessary to present the receipt to the relevant licensing section. This step must be within the first ten days of deactivation and is crucial to ensure that the authorities can deregister it.
  • The gun-holder can only change possession of the gun if it is certified to be effectively deactivated; otherwise, it is illegal to give such a gun to another person. Doing so may cause harm to the recipient and others.
  • During registration of the deactivated firearm, the owner needs to give the gun's caliber, make, serial number, his/ her name, state of residence, and physical address.


As much as gun laws vary according to the state or country, the issue of gun possession and transfer remains a crucial legal aspect. Evidently, the state needs to be careful about who handles these weapons to prevent them from landing in the wrong hands.

The country is cautious not to let terrorists take possession of weapons responsible for losing lives and property destruction. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct deactivation and register all the incidences of deactivated weapons.

Note that even when the weapons are rendered inactive, the owner or whoever contacts them needs to be responsible when handling them; they should not let children or untrained individuals use them. Lastly, it is illegal to possess or use the weapons in any manner that puts another citizen at risk of injury or death; whether the weapon is active or not.



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