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Fact Sheet - Facts and Figures for Fiscal Year 2020

April, 2021
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Fast Facts

  1. ATF closed 6,251 cases that were recommended for prosecution in previous years up to and including FY 2020.

  2. ATF has 9,403 active explosive licensees and permittees and 130,525 active federal firearms licensees.

  3. ATF conducted 5,827 firearm compliance inspections in FY 2020.


Special agents 2,653
Industry operations investigators (IOIs) 760
Administrative/professional/technical 1,669
Total full-time employees 5,082

Personnel in Field Divisions

Outside of headquarters in Washington, DC, ATF has 25 field divisions across the country.

Special agents 2,341
IOIs 728
Administrative/professional/technical 538
Total full-time employees in field divisions 3,607

Cases and Defendants

Case and defendant data presents a snapshot in time of matters proceeding through the various phases of the judicial process. The typical ATF case recommended for prosecution remains open over a period of approximately 4 years.

Cases and defendants indicted, convicted, and sentenced are not subsets of cases and defendants recommended for prosecution in FY 2020. The snapshot presents actual judicial activity in the fiscal year regardless of the year the matter was recommended for prosecution. For example, “percentage indicted” should not be calculated based upon the presented data, as the case indicted may have been presented in a previous fiscal year.


Total cases recommended for prosecution 8,025
Indicted cases 6,934
Convicted cases 5,181
Criminal group and gang cases 1,639

Of the total cases that were recommended for prosecution in previous years up to and including FY20, ATF closed 6,251 cases.


Recommended for prosecution 10,012
Prior arrests 70,439
Prior convictions 18,192
Defendants indicted 10,077
Number convicted 7,204
Received life sentence 4
Received death sentences 24

The data show an average of 7.0 prior arrests and 1.8 prior convictions per defendant recommended for prosecution.

Criminal Investigations Initiated

Firearms cases initiated 39,449
Arson cases initiated 2,252
Explosives cases initiated  976
Alcohol and tobacco cases initiated 12

Firearms Licensees

As of FY20, there were 130,525 active federal firearms licensees (FFLs).

Type 01: Dealer 52,795
Type 02: Pawnbroker 7,114
Type 03: Collector 52,729
Type 06: Manufacturer of Ammunition 1,807
Type 07: Manufacturer of Firearms 14,126
Type 08: Importer 1,136
Type 09: Dealer of Destructive Devices 127
Type 10: Manufacturer of Destructive Devices 422
Type 11: Importer of Destructive Devices 269


ATF conducted 5,827 firearm compliance inspections in FY 2020.

Firearms compliance inspections resulted in the following recommendations (updated/expanded information pending):

No violations 3,277 56.2%
Report of violations 1,289 22.1%
Warning letter 804 13.8%
Warning conference 306 5.3%
License surrendered/out of business 96 1.6%
Revocations/denials 40 0.7%
Other dispositions 15 0.3%

Most Frequently Cited Violations

27 CFR 478.125(e) Failure to maintain an accurate/complete/timely acquisition and disposition (A&D) record of firearms
27 CFR 478.124(c)(1) Failure to obtain a completed ATF F 4473
27 CFR 478.21(a) Failure to complete forms as prescribed
27 CFR 478.124(c)(3)(iv) Failure to record NICS contact information on an ATF F 4473
27 CFR 478.123(a) Failure to maintain an accurate/complete/timely manufacture or acquisition record
27 CFR 478.124(c)(5) Failure by transferor to sign and/or date an ATF F 4473
27 CFR 478.124(c)(4) Failure to record firearm information on an ATF F 4473
27 CFR 478.124(c)(3)(i) Failure to verify or record identification document on ATF F 4473
27 CFR 478.123(b) Failure to maintain an accurate/complete/timely licensee disposition record
27 CFR 478.126a Failure to report multiple sales or other dispositions of pistols and revolvers

Firearms Application Inspections

ATF conducted 10,525 application inspections. Of those inspections, 8,385 were approved and 237 were denied. The remaining 1,903 applications were abandoned or withdrawn.

Explosives Licensees

As of FY20, there were 9,403 active federal explosives licenses and permits (FEL/FEPs).

Manufacturers 2,103
Importers 557
Dealers 571
Dealers in black powder 340
Limited permits 57
Users 5,775


ATF conducted 2,407 explosives compliance inspections in FY 2020.

Explosive compliance inspections resulted in the following recommendations:

No violations 2,051 85.2%
Report of violations 84 3.5%
Warning letter 82 3.4%
Warning conference 19 0.8%
License surrendered/out of business 23 1.0%
Revocations sought 6 0.2%
Other dispositions 142 5.9%

Most Frequently Cited Violations

27 CFR 555.127 Failure to timely/accurately enter all required explosive inventory identification and quantity information in a daily summary of magazine transactions (per magazine)
27 CFR 555.124(c)(2) Failure to record the (brand) name of manufacturer or name of importer of explosive material(s) in the permanent record (Dealer)
27 CFR 555.123(b)(2) Failure to record the manufacturer's mark of identification of explosive material(s) in the permanent record (Manufacturer)
27 CFR 555.125(b)(3)(vi) Failure to record the name, address and license/permit number of the person from whom explosive material(s) are received in the permanent record (User)
27 CFR 555.29 Unlawful storage of explosive materials

Explosives Application Inspections

ATF conducted 835 application inspections. Of those inspections, 702 were approved and 13 denied. The remaining 120 applications were abandoned or withdrawn.

Imports and National Firearms Act (NFA)

NFA registration applications (and transfer applications) 487,745
NFA registrations processed (total weapons) 512,315 forms
2,353,436 weapons
NFA making and transfer tax collected $51,700,000
NFA special occupation tax collected $8,000,000
Permanent Import Form 6 permit applications (firearms, ammunition and defense articles) 8,207
Temporary Import Form 6 permit applications for non-immigrant aliens 3,167
Total import permit applications 11,374

Note: All taxes collected for NFA go to the general fund of the U.S. Treasury Department.


ATF’s National Tracing Center (NTC) is the only organization authorized to trace U.S. and foreign manufactured firearms for local, state, federal and international law enforcement agencies. NTC provides critical information that helps domestic and international law enforcement agencies solve firearms crimes, detect firearms trafficking, and track the intrastate, interstate, and international movement of crime guns.

NTC processed more than 490,800 trace requests in FY 2020.

Certified Fire Investigators

ATF’s Certified Fire Investigators (CFIs) provide support for fire and arson investigations throughout the entire United States, its territories and other countries.

ATF initiated 2,252 fire and arson investigations in FY 2020.

National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN)

NIBIN provides local, state and federal law enforcement, forensic science, and prosecutors with an automated ballistic imaging system that will aid their investigations by using digital images of shell casings to link violent crimes involving firearms and subsequently identify firearm users in violent crimes.

Acquisitions 472,948
NIBIN leads 104,206
NIBIN hits 6,775


In FY 2020, ATF’s laboratories accomplished the following:

  • Received 1,734 requests for analysis and testing
  • Completed analysis on 941 forensic cases (FSL)
  • Performed 113 laboratory case testing experiments (FRL)
  • Performed 84 laboratory research testing experiments (FRL)
  • Provided 25.5 days of expert testimony in the courts
  • Worked 175 days at crime scenes
  • Provided 235 days of instruction for federal, state and local investigators and forensic examiners


The agency’s FY 2020 enacted budget is approximately $1.4 billion.

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