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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Contact: Public Affairs Division

ATF releases 2017 U.S. firearms trace data report


WASHINGTON — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) released firearms trace data today for all U.S. states and territories for calendar year 2017.  ATF’s National Tracing Center (NTC), which is the nation’s only crime gun tracing facility, gathers the data. Trace data relates to firearms recovered by law enforcement. For calendar year 2017, the NTC traced more than 400,000 firearms.


In 2017, 322,078, firearms were recovered and traced in the United States and its territories, an increase of 32,855 from 2016. California had the most firearms recovered and traced, 41,527. In 2016, California was also the largest recovery state. The majority of the traces involved 9 mm, again consistent with 2016. The top firearm types recovered were pistols, followed by revolvers, rifles, and shotguns. The average age of possessor in 2017 was 35. The time to crime for 2017 was 9.30 years, which is a decrease from 9.79 years in 2016. 


The tracing numbers for 2017 were an 11.3% increase over the tracing numbers for 2016. The overall increase in the number of firearms recovered and traced indicates increased participation in the tracing program by our local, state and federal law enforcement partners.


Trace information provides valuable investigative leads to law enforcement and can link a suspect to a firearm in a criminal investigation. Firearms traces help identify potential firearms traffickers by detecting in-state, interstate and international firearms trafficking patterns, including the sources and types of crime guns; specific trend data for ATF and its law enforcement partners, and information on the movement of a firearm from the manufacturer or importer through the distribution chain to identify its first retail purchaser.


The released firearms trace data offers a description of firearms recovered and traced in each state along with the source states of the firearms recovered.


In addition to recovered and traced firearms per state, the report includes recovery location information, the average time from first purchaser to recovery in a crime, and the criminal offense associated with the firearm. ATF is dedicated to reducing firearms trafficking and firearms-related violent crime. For more information on ATF or to view the 2017 firearms trace data, please see our website at