How ATF Traces Firearms
A firearm is recovered by law enforcement.
•ATF receives recovery information in e-Trace.
•Trace reveals origin of firearm manufacturer or importer.
•Trace leads to the original Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). (Not all traces may lead to the original FFL. Sales sometimes lead beyond that to a subsequent FFL.) •FFL manually looks through firearm transaction records to find the first purchaser. (First purchaser is not always identified. Sometimes traces lead to a more recent purchaser or an unlicensed purchaser.)
ATF performed 373,000+ trace requests in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015.
Published by ATF on October 11, 2016