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Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs
Contact: Tannyr Watkins
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Justice Department Releases New Training to Focus on Privately Made Firearms

WASHINGTON — The Bureau of Justice Assistance, a division of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives today announced the release of a new training module on privately made firearms as part of its National Public Safety Partnership (PSP) Virtual Academy. The training supports the Department’s comprehensive strategy to address gun violence and President Biden’s commitment to reducing gun violence in communities across the country.

Privately made firearms, commonly known as ghost guns, are a rapidly growing area of concern for law enforcement and communities. Last year alone, approximately 20,000 suspected privately made firearms were reported to ATF as having been recovered by law enforcement in criminal investigations, a ten-fold increase from 2016. [1]

“I have been told by state and local law enforcement leaders over and over that the increasing prevalence of privately made firearms being used in violent crimes is a major threat to public safety,” stated ATF Director Steven M. Dettelbach. “Training has been identified as a key pillar in our national strategy to address the illegal use of privately made firearms. These courses aim to respond to these concerns by providing our local, state, tribal and federal partners with the necessary foundation to identify and address the misuse of these firearms within their jurisdictions.”

Working collaboratively, ATF and BJA developed the PSP Virtual Academy Ghost Guns course. This short course provides law enforcement a readily accessible, on-demand and no-cost way to gain insight into what constitutes privately made firearms and how they may be manufactured, and it makes recommendations regarding evidence collection. ATF’s expertise was critical to ensuring that the course reflects the most current information, techniques and strategies to address privately made firearms.

Because privately made firearms are a relatively new phenomenon, law enforcement has not yet established uniform procedures for identifying and documenting their recovery.

“The PSP Virtual Academy was designed to enhance the capacity of law enforcement agencies to better address crime and increase public safety, and thousands of law enforcement personnel have benefited since we introduced the first course in April 2021,” said BJA Director Karhlton F. Moore. “We’re proud to provide our state and local partners with this new training opportunity and learning platform. We look forward to expanding the Academy in the future.”

Part of a larger suite of online training courses, BJA’s PSP Virtual Academy delivers valuable learning opportunities in a convenient, contemporary platform. The current course offerings are:

  • Law Enforcement Guide to Crime Guns
  • Crime S.C.E.N.E. Excellence
  • Leadership Strategies: Building Effective Leaders to Impact Violence Reduction
  • Navigating NIBIN Leads via the GETS System
  • GunStat: A Data-Driven Approach to Address Gun Violence

Understanding the importance of making the most of training time, the Virtual Academy courses include accreditation materials for students to obtain continuing education credits via their state or local regulatory entities. Any law enforcement professionals interested in enrolling in the PSP Virtual Academy can submit a request via the PSP website at

The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at

The mission of BJA, a component of OJP, is to provide leadership and services in grant administration and criminal justice policy development to support state, local and tribal justice strategies to achieve safer communities. BJA works with communities, governments and nonprofit organizations to reduce crime, recidivism and unnecessary confinement and promote a safe and fair criminal justice system.

ATF is the lead federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction involving firearms, explosives, and arson. ATF partners with local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies in their mission to reduce violent crime and protect the public. Utilizing investigative tools dedicated to combating gun crime, ATF supports these partners with training and crime gun intelligence using the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) and firearms tracing through ATF’s National Tracing Center.

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