Tools & Services for Law Enforcement

National Tracing Center

What is Firearms Tracing?

Image of the ATF gun labFirearms tracing is the systematic tracking of the movement of a firearms recovered by law enforcement officials from its first sale by the manufacturer or importer through the distribution chain (wholesaler/retailer) to the first retail purchaser. Comprehensive firearms tracing is the routine tracing of every crime gun recovered within a geographic area or specific law enforcement jurisdiction.


National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN)

NIBIN Program - How it Works?

Image of bullets in the sandThe NIBIN Program automates ballistics evaluations and provides actionable investigative leads in a timely manner. NIBIN is the only interstate automated ballistic imaging network in operation in the United States and is available to most major population centers in the United States. Prior to the NIBIN Program, firearms examiners performed this process manually which was extremely labor intensive. To use NIBIN, firearms examiners or technicians enter cartridge casing evidence into the Integrated Ballistic Identification System. These images are correlated against the database. Law enforcement can search against evidence from their jurisdiction, neighboring ones, and others across the country. This program is one investigative tool accessed by law enforcement that allows each of us to share information and cooperation easily making all of us more effective in closing cases.

Firearms and Ammunition Technology

Image of guns at the national labThe Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD) provides expert technical support to ATF, other Federal agencies, State and local law enforcement, the firearms industry, Congress, and the general public. This Division is responsible for technical determinations concerning types of firearms approved for importation into the United States and for rendering opinions regarding the classification of suspected illegal firearms and newly designed firearms. Further, FATD provides the U.S. Department of Justice, State prosecutors' offices, district attorneys' offices, and military courts with expert firearms testimony on the identification and origin of firearms and other matters relating to firearms and the firearms industry. The Division maintains an extensive firearms reference collection, as well as technical firearms reference files and library and firearms databases.

Firearms Related Training for Law Enforcement

The National Firearms Examiner Academy provides training for apprentice/entry level firearm and toolmark examiners from Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The Academy curriculum is composed of the fundamentals of firearms and toolmark examinations and serves as a basis for the trainee, under supervision, to develop into a qualified firearm and toolmark examiner.

Privately Made Firearms

Frame or receiverPrivately made firearms (PMFs) are firearms (including a frame or receiver) that have been completed, assembled or otherwise produced by a person other than a licensed manufacturer. ATF has compiled some information on the different types of PMFs and things to consider while owning one.

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