So, they know who bought it, what kind of gun it was, what he paid, and where he bought it. To my knowledge, Texas does not require handgun registration. So, just how did they know all of this???
No registration for pre-owned weapons. However, we do require the standard FBI background search when purchasing a new weapon, which leads to a whole slew of questions. Given what the FBI knew about his background, how did he manage to pass the background check?
So back to your original question, Carry_Okie -- how did they trace this? They would have the make/model/ser#, so...
1) Maybe that NICS data isn't getting destroyed within 24 hours like the law requires.
2) Maybe the FBI sent agents out to every gun shop in the area, looked through the 4473 forms, and got lucky.
3) Something I haven't thought of yet.
Not being paranoid, but my bet's on horse #1.
Texas may not require it but every gun purchased from a retail dealer in America is accompanied by a BATF form 4473 and a background check. Your gun may not be registered but the transaction sure is.
Maybe his purchase was recent enough that the dealer rembered the murderers puss when it was plastered in the press or they simply do a reverse trace from FN to the jobber then the distributor then the dealer. The dealer keeps the 4473’s I believe. Easier to come from top down when ya have the gun and the suspect.
Just my SWAG on the matter.....
Tracing the serial number forward from the manufacturer through each FFL transaction until it arrived in the perp’s hand.
Probably went back through the non-existent NICS database...