A key component of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) enforcement mission is the tracing of firearms on behalf of thousands of federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies. Firearms trace data is critically important information developed by ATF. ATF has prepared the following state-by-state reports utilizing trace data which is intended to provide the public with insight into firearms recoveries.
Firearms tracing is designed to provide investigative leads to law enforcement to linking a suspect to a firearm in a criminal investigation, to identify illegal firearms traffickers, and to identify trends and patterns in the flow of illegal firearms. Firearms tracing is only conducted at the request of a law enforcement agency engaged in a bona fide criminal investigation where a firearm has been used or is suspected to have been used in a crime. Although not all firearms used in crimes that are recovered by law enforcement are traced, ATF encourages every agency to comprehensively trace each of those firearms.
The firearms selected for tracing are not chosen for purposes of determining which types, makes or models of firearms are used for illicit purposes. The firearms selected do not constitute a random sample and should not be considered representative of the larger universe of all firearms used by criminals, or any subset of that universe. Firearms are normally traced to the first retail seller, and sources reported for firearms traced do not necessarily represent the sources or methods by which firearms in general are acquired for use in crime.