The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) released today firearm trace data for all individual U.S. states and territories for calendar year 2015. Trace information provides investigative leads to law enforcement and can link a suspect to a firearm in a criminal investigation. Firearm traces also help identify potential firearm traffickers, and detect in-state, interstate and international firearm trafficking patterns, including the sources and types of crime guns.
ATF’s Violent Crime Analysis Branch produces this annual report using trace information compiled at ATF’s National Tracing Center (NTC), the nation’s only crime gun tracing facility. The NTC provides critical information that assists domestic and international law enforcement agencies to solve firearm crimes, detect firearm trafficking patterns, and identify trends with respect to intrastate, interstate and international movement of crime guns.
In 2015, there were 190,538 firearms recovered and traced back to a purchaser in the United States, an increase of more than 20,000 firearms recovered and traced in the previous year. The majority of the traces involved 9 mm (more than 55,000) and .22 caliber (more than 35,000) firearms. The top three types of firearms traced last year were pistols (more than 150,000 traces), revolvers (more than 44,000 traces) and rifles (more than 41,000 traces).
The released firearm trace data offers a description of firearms recovered and traced in each state along with the source states of the firearms recovered.
In addition to the number of recovered and traced firearms per state, the report includes recovery location information, the average time it took from when a firearm was purchased to when it was recovered in a crime, and the criminal offense associated with the firearm.
To access the complete 2015 firearms trace report, visit ATF’s online statistics page at https://www.atf.gov/about/firearms-trace-data-2015.
The BATFE recently published an open letter to Chief Law Enforcement Officers (CLEOs) regarding the January 41F ruling (fmr 41P) which makes changes to the way in which NFA applications are handled for legal entities and individuals.
In part, the letter specifies “that a copy of all applications to make or transfer a firearm, and the responsible person questionnaire, if applicable, be forwarded to the [CLEO] of the locality in which the applicant, transferee or responsible person is located (“CLEO notification”)” and that the ruling “eliminates the requirement that an applicant obtain a certification signed by the CLEO before the transfer or making of an NFA firearm may be approved.“
The letter goes on to explain that there is no action required by the CLEO upon receipt (or lack thereof) of the paperwork – to include even confirming receipt of the documents. Further, the letter says that it is up to each CLEO to determine how they dispose of or retain (and whether or not they do either).
Of immediate concern are several potential issues regarding this lackadaisical hands-off approach to record keeping and privacy mandates. One concern would be with how an applicant would prove that they met the new CLEO notification requirement if there is no acknowledgment of receipt by the CLEO, and what future repercussions might be. Application denials? Revocation of approved applications with forced surrender of the firearms? The ATF has already proven that they are not above such tactics in the recent Form 1 Machine Gun debacles, which are still in litigation. Or worse?
The second concern would be how the CLEOs are protecting applicants sensitive information that is contained in the notification paperwork. As the $200 cost associated with making or transferring NFA firearms ($5 for transferring AOWs) is not a fee or a price for goods or services sold but, rather, the tax paid for making or transferring the item, the application could well be considered a tax document. This document details the what firearms are being made or transferred, at which physical address, and – for many applicants – their home address, photograph, fingerprints, signature, and other sensitive information. This information could potentially be problematic if it fell into the wrong hands, which is not outside the realm of possibilities when the CLEO is able to simply toss your notification paperwork into the trash bin for dumpster divers to find or leave it laying around on a desk at the PD for petty crooks to have a look at as they are brought through.
As if identity theft wasn’t enough of an issue, without any mandated safeguards on how this information is to be protected, consider the possibility of a motivated criminal coming to Joe Gunguy’s house at 123 Anystreet Lane to steal the expensive 7.5″ Noveske 5.56 AR-15 pattern rifle to use on the streets. If this firearm is so much more dangerous than an off-the-shelf firearm that it requires owners to to register them and pay an extra $200 tax on them and notify the government when we travel with them, does it make sense for the CLEOs to treat the information about those weapons so recklessly? Or is this just another spotlight on the absurdity of the NFA in general?
Guns Stolen in South Carolina and Alabama
Not long after the recent release of the BATFE’s 2015 FFL Theft and Loss Report – which reported a total of nearly 15,000 lost or stolen firearms last year – the Bureau is trying to solve more firearm theft cases with the help of firearms industry industry trade association National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
The BATFE, and NSSF have announced a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the theft of firearms from Lexington Pawn & Gun, a Federal Firearm Licensee (FFL), in Lexington, SC. ATF is offering a reward of up to $5,000, which will be matched by the NSSF for a total reward of up to $10,000.
Two separate burglaries occurred at Lexington Pawn & Gun, 4884 Sunset Blvd, Lexington, SC. On Feb. 13, 2016, at approximately 4 AM, unidentified suspect(s) broke into Lexington Pawn & Gun. The suspect(s) stole several firearms and fled the scene.
On March 5, 2016, at approximately 2:08 AM, unidentified suspect(s) broke into Lexington Pawn & Gun. The suspect(s) stole several firearms and fled the scene.
These crimes are being investigated by ATF and the Lexington Police Department.
In a, presumably unrelated incident, a separate reward is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction for those responsible for the theft of firearms from Patriot Gun Sales in Montgomery, AL.
On March 10, 2016, Patriot Gun Sales, 3079 Wetumpka Highway, Montgomery, was burglarized and approximately 18 firearms were reported stolen to the Montgomery Police Department. ATF is offering the reward in the amount of $2,500, which will be matched by the NSSF for a total reward of up to $5,000.
These rewards are part of a larger national cooperative initiative between the NSSF and ATF in which NSSF matches ATF rewards in cases involving the theft of firearms from federally licensed firearms retailers. ATF works closely with members of the firearms industry to curb the criminal acquisition and misuse of firearms.
ATF along with our law enforcement partners are committed to ensuring that our communities are safe and that those who violate federal laws are held accountable. Anyone with information about these crimes should contact ATF at 1-800-ATF-GUNS (800-283-4867). All calls will be kept confidential.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) is responsible for investigating instances where firearms are lost or stolen from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). Part of ATF’s core mission is to protect the public from violent crime involving the use of firearms. Stolen firearms are used by violent offenders in the commission of crimes, and pose a substantial threat to the public and law enforcement.
FFLs must report each lost or stolen firearm within 48 hours of discovery of the loss or theft by completing and forwarding a Federal Firearms Licensee Theft/Loss Report to ATF. In addition, the FFL must also report the firearm loss or theft to the appropriate local law enforcement agency.
There was a total of 14,800 lost or stolen firearms reported nationwide last year from FFLs. Of those firearms, 8,637 were reported as lost. Firearms are considered lost when an FFL takes a firearm into its inventory and later cannot account for the disposition of the firearm from its inventory during an inventory reconciliation.
There were 6,163 firearms reported stolen in 2015 by FFLs. Stolen firearms are broken down into three reporting categories: larceny, burglary and robbery. Continue reading
The popularity of gun mufflers has exploded over the past few years thanks, in part, to efforts by manufacturer conglomerates, silencer demos and events, social media hash-tags that bring awareness (#SilencersAreLegal, #FightTheNoise), and the relative ease of procuring them – despite the blatantly unconstitutional restrictions placed on them by laws and BATFE rulings. There is even legislative action to make them even easier to procure – requiring only a 4473 instead of the tedious NFA paperwork and wait time (contact your reps!).
eForms Changing to Firearms and Explosives Application Module (FEAM)
Liason says system wont be ready in time to demo at SHOT Show
As a BATFE eForms valued customer (what, you don’t have your frequent buyer’s card?), we received an update email today to notify us about some changes that are coming in the system.
The first change that you will notice is the name. No longer will it be called “eForms.” Rather, it will go by the new moniker of “Firearms and Explosives Application Module (FEAM)”. This change, the BATFE says, is to emphasis that FEAM is more than a “fillable form”.
A Business Process Module
The advisory maintains that, instead of just being a form, the system is a “business process module” and gives a list of minimum the functionalities, listed below. Although it doesn’t explicitly say as much, reading between the lines might lead one to believe that the changes are, in part, to pave the way to accommodate (or not) the requirements of ATF 41F (nee 41P). It also sounds like they may be scrapping all of that hard work that they had been promising was underway toward the reboot of the eForms Form 4 functionality.
- Auto assignment – All applications will be immediately upon submission assigned to an examiner for processing. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. It seems like it could slow down some applications if it immediately goes onto the desk of a slow or grumpy examiner versus working its way through the queue to land on the first available desk.
- Auto approval – Some forms, like the ATF Forms 2 and 3, if they meet certain pre-determined criteria will be automatically approved by the FEAM system upon submission. This generally sounds like a good thing, as it could cut down on the amount of time buyers spend waiting for custom-built NFA items to hit the registry from the manufacturer or for the transfer to their local dealer to go through so they can start waiting on their Form 4.
- Internal controls and performance measurement reporting – ATF has a full audit trail of every application received with date and time stamps for every step in the process. Digital signatures can be used to lock down portions of the form to ensure the security of the data and the authenticity of the submitter.
- Improved business processes with automatic Records Management & Retention, as mandated by the Office of Management and Budget.
- Electronic Signature (for submitter and ATF personnel) – provides enhanced authentication, validation and improves processing and approval. From an individual viewpoint, this doesn’t sound like that meaningful of a change; particularly barring the absence of a mechanism for users to submit fingerprints and photos – which will soon be required for all non-SOT users.
- Enhance Industry satisfaction: user-friendly interaction. Aww, look… the BATFE is humble. To be honest, the eForms interface couldn’t have got much worse. It looked like a hello world website from the ’90s. But it suited its purpose as an online fillable form.
- FEAM provides the Application Program Interface (APIs) needed to update the existing ATF back end databases, to allow for the batch submission of multiple forms using one computer session. Yahtzee. Bulk forms.
- Improves efficiency for the Enforcement Programs and Services staff – Forms can be automatically routed, evaluated and tracked so that final determinations can be made in a consistent and expeditious manner.
The advisory also indicates that they had anticipated being able to demo FEAM v1.0 at SHOT Show this upcoming week, but – shockingly – they didn’t have it done in time. Drats! We had hoped to see something good when we stopped by their show booth this year.
We had hoped to be able to present the first iteration of FEAM at the 2016 SHOT Show. ATF performed an assessment of what was contracted to be developed for FEAM and what the contractor planned to deliver. At the end of the assessment, all parties involved felt that the product outlined in the current contract did not fully provide all the functionality that we expected, or that the industry requested. For these reasons we decided that rather than to continue on the current course, we would take the steps listed below to ensure that FEAM is a worthwhile investment for both the industry and ATF:
- Curtail the current development effort.
- Determine what is needed to sustain the existing eForms system, until the full requirements for FEAM can be determined and developed.
- Make the necessary changes to eForms to stabilize the infrastructure with the ever-increasing user population.
- Determine if we can re-introduce the Form 3 to the current eForms, through load testing and other system validations.
- Perform an assessment of the ATF and industry requirements for FEAM.
- Secure required funding for a new FEAM initiative, based on the revised requirements.
- Restart the FEAM initiative, to include industry participation during the requirements gathering and testing processes.
We look at this as only a minor delay. It is our intention to use this delay to acquire the tools and resources necessary to develop a product that will provide more functionality and a stable workflow process and infrastructure. All the work previously done on FEAM is not lost. It will be the foundation for the work that is yet to come.