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Fact Sheet - Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division

June, 2020
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Fast Facts

  1. ATF’s Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division is the leading federal authority responsible for classifying firearms and ammunition.

  2. ATF’s Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division maintains a one-of-a-kind reference collection with more than 12,000 firearms.

ATF’s Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD) is the federal government’s technical authority on the classifications of firearms and ammunition under federal rules and regulations. FATD uses leading-edge technologies to analyze the origins of crime guns and identify emerging trends in criminal activity. They also provide technical guidance on firearms laws to law enforcement partners, U.S. Attorney’s offices and congressional staff.

Firearms Enforcement Officers (FEOs) are trained firearm experts to identify crime guns and support multiagency police responses to violent crimes across the country. FEOs work closely with ATF special agents, industry operations investigators (IOIs), other federal agencies and local law enforcement to identify firearms-related evidence recovered during search warrants and other investigations.

The Numbers

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criminal cases worked for local, state and federal law enforcement in fiscal year (FY) 2019.

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pieces of criminal evidence analyzed and 900 law enforcement requests for firearm testing and evaluation completed in FY19.

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industry requests completed and 677 firearms/parts evaluated in FY19.

Branches and Services

Several firearms laid on top of a camouflage cover The Firearms Technology Criminal Branch (FTCB) analyzes and classifies weapons recovered from crimes scenes and during investigations by ATF special agents and other law enforcement agencies. During this process, FTCB conducts research to classify the recovered firearms within the scope of federal laws and regulations. FTCB provides technical support and guidance through technical reports on aspects of the Gun Control Act of 1968, the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, and other federal laws and regulations submitted as evidence in judicial proceedings.

FATD’s Firearms Technology Industry Services Branch (FTISB) is responsible for providing firearm industry-related technical support regarding firearms laws, regulations, and technology issues. FTISB issues marking variances to licensed manufacturers and importers to help them stay in compliance with federal laws. FTISB also issues curio and relic determinations for firearms that are novel, rare, bizarre or associated with a significant historical figure, period or event. Their specialists participate in congressional hearings and task forces, and serve as technical firearms analysis experts for proposed firearms legislation.

The Advanced Firearms and Interstate Nexus Branch (AFINB) supports ATF’s enforcement programs by providing high quality firearms and ammunition education training to ATF special agents and other law enforcement partners on weapon identification protocols and processes. This branch also maintains the National Firearms Collection, a technical firearms and ammunition collection that houses more than 12,000 firearms. These firearms are used as a reference to identify crime guns and weapons that are imported illegally, otherwise known as gun trafficking.

Combating Violent Crime

To make our communities safer, FATD staff use their extensive knowledge to help accurately classify crime guns and build a strong legal case against violent criminals. FATD also works with firearm manufacturers and importers to ensure that weapons are not illegally imported into the United States. FATD’s expertise helps to protect communities by providing technically sound testimony during judicial proceedings, which can lead to the incarceration of violent criminals.

Additional Resources

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