Gun-Grabber Gripes about ATF Tracing a Feint for Registration and More

U.S.A. – -( “On television, when a perpetrator leaves a gun at the scene, a quick computer search can point law enforcement to the weapon’s owner,” an August 6 promotion piece for one in a series of “gun control” videos being “curated” by The Atlantic. “In reality—at least in the United States—no such database of firearms exists.”

Thank goodness one doesn’t. That’s prohibited by law to prevent a government that increasingly comes up with “creative” edicts to confiscate arms without due process and, significantly, without Constitutional authority. But resurrected complaints about not being able to do that to all of us are once again making headlines in order to swindle a public that for the most part doesn’t know any better out of its birthright. Examples over recent years from the usual suspects include:

  • How the N.R.A. Keeps Federal Gun Regulators in Check
  • The ATF’s Nonsensical Non-Searchable Gun Databases
  • The Low-Tech Way Guns Get Traced: NPR
  • Let the ATF’s Firearms Tracing Center Do its Job – Bloomberg
  • How the NRA Hobbled the ATF – Mother Jones

You get the drift. The gun-grabbers want to make it easy to find out who has what to help them reach the bottom of Nancy Pelosi’s slippery slope.

Supplementing that, getting trace data released has been a goal of billionaire gun-grabber Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown, which filed suit in 2015.  As usual, their high-sounding goals mask the underhanded motive of abusing data to “name and shame” and close down gun dealers and manufacturers ATF has not found cause to shutter.

Left unsaid (in blaming their inability at circumventing the law on NRA and “the gun lobby”) is the inconvenient truth that even ATF and the Fraternal Order of Police support the Tiahrt Amendment, limiting the release of specific tracing data to law enforcement investigations and prosecutions. The Bureau has “fought for years in the federal courts to keep trace records confidential because they contain information (such as names of gun buyers) that could jeopardize ongoing investigations—not to mention law enforcement officers’ lives.”

Also left unsaid in all this “urgent need” for high-speed data are two other inconvenient truths:

The national time-to-crime average is 9.3 years. That and ATF puts an important disclaimer in all of its state reports:

“Not all firearms used in crime are traced and not all firearms traced are used in crime.”

That makes it fair to ask – and expect answers to – how many cases are solved based on traces. How many perpetrators have been convicted that would otherwise not have been had ATF not identified a name gleaned from a retailer’s 4473 copy? Intuitively, if you catch the perp, it would seem you’ve solved the case. Ditto, what percentage of guns found at the scene trace back to the “retail purchaser” who is either guilty or able to provide a useful lead to who is? Factoring in the costs of these operations, how much does that work out to per solved crime?

The other information I’d like to see is if, after all the effort and expense, there is any real-world validation of the agent’s claim in the video that “We’re actually doing something here that might save a life.”

“Might”? Has it happened before? How many times? How effective has tracing proven to be in producing that outcome?

It’s not a question of putting a price on human lives, but one of assessing if resources placed elsewhere, or if a reduction in infringements, might actually save more lives. Instead, without even considering those questions, the push is on once more to spend untold funding on a database system to identify all “law-abiding” gun owners and tell authorities exactly what it is they have.

The motive is obviously not to save lives, that’s just the line the citizen disarmament swindlers use in their long con to draw in the ignorant, the gullible and the stupid. The reason is to enable confiscation as the “red flag” net tightens, “universal background checks” subject more names and property to enforcement scrutiny and new gun bans take effect.

About David Codrea:David Codrea

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

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What the Atlantic will also never point out is a simple fact that there is no such thing as a registration or background check for a stolen firearm. What good does it do to trace a firearm back to a victim who was burglarized? Not a freaking thing…

If any pro control idiots read this, by all means go ahead and comment with your what if scenario. I already have a good idea what you are going to say, and already have an answer.


Now the government wants to arrest you if you’re a victim of a crime.. They will claim that you were careless and did not properly secure your weapon, if it was stolen.. They do however enter stolen firearms into ncic (and your state version of that) until the gun is recovered..


which does a lot of good when serial numbers get ground off. Again, there are ways around those laws which is why they will never, ever, ever solve crime.

Now, if you have calmed down since your previous posts, welcome to the discussion.

Wild Bill

@Rev, Ground off serial number can be “raised”, of course, by a forensic procedure involving the use of acid. But we see your point.


The reliability of which can be compromised though to someone who knows what to do for it, which I wont state here to give those with ill intent any advantage. (Its actually very simple if you understand how firearms are made, and why the metal would react with the acid.) Something I learned a long time ago since I have had a lot of family in law enforcement occupations. But that was the point. We live in reality, the left wants to believe reality can be twisted to fit their needs, that certain technologies exist which will stop the human… Read more »


Removing serial numbers or possession a a gun with the numbers removed is a federal and also a crime under most state laws. Manufactures began serial numbers to internally track different productions runs. Only the higher quality guns had numbers. It wasn’t until 1968 that a unique serial number was required on all guns manufactured. Make, model, caliber and barrel length. Why grind the numbers off? If you steal a gun, a crime, only to grind off the serial number, a more serious crime, what was the point? There records on guns made before about 1934 are incomplete or never… Read more »


Well, let’s just look to history — not US history, but actual history nonetheless. From 1995 to 2012, Canada had PRECISELY the type of registration that these tyrants want. It ended up costing three orders of magnitude more than its backers projected. (Just to make it perfectly clear, this doesn’t mean “three times more,” it means “a THOUSAND times more.”) It was never successful at solving a single actual crime – except for the brand new crime of “failure to register,“ an entirely artificial “crime“ existing ONLY because the government had created a registry! If it was so useless and… Read more »

John Dow

Ditto the shell casing databases in NY and MD – lots of cost, no productivity.


As a Canadian, I am well aware of the gun laws here. The Liberal government of the day brought in a long-gun registry, and a firearm owner licensing scheme that still exists today. Collectively known as C-68 or The Firearms Act of 1995. In 1995 there were some 7 Million gun owners who held some 25 Million firearms. Now that registration has come and gone, and licensing still exists, we have 2.5 Million licensed gun owners and some 7 Million guns accounted for. Where exactly did 5 Million gun owners and 18 Million guns go? And more importantly, when the… Read more »


Join or contribute to the Second Amendment Foundation!

Wild Bill

@31 Is it you? This is the best thing that you have ever posted!


BATF dweeb shows up at door.. Hi, there, I’d like some information about a firearm you bought some time ago. Which one? (make model serial number comes out). Hmm.. I don’t recall that one. How long ago do your records show I bought that, and from where? (day month year come out) Hmmm. well, I’ve had quite a lot happen in the ten years since that. I did sell quite a few guns at some gun shows, trying to raise some cash cause I got hurt and was off work for some time (absolutely true, documentable) Did those sales get… Read more »

Gene Ralno

Over the decades, I’ve seen many states proffer bills that require owners to promptly report stolen firearms. I’ve also read many reports of police raids that confiscate up to hundreds of firearms. But I’ve never heard of a single piece being returned to an owner. Seems such reports annoy owners and waste police time. Perhaps stolen gun report laws should be repealed. It would be like taking back our rights inch by inch.


A Ruger LCP was stolen out of my stepfather’s car. Police recovered and returned it 2 years later.

100 guns found in a raid makes headlines
1 gun returned to owner does not


A friend recently had his stolen in the 1980’s .38 revolver returned to him by Houston (of all the leftist places) Police (found in the street and somewhat the worse for wear after hitting the asphalt pretty hard). So, it apparently DOES happen (sometimes). Don’t hold your breath though . . . . .


All gun owners should trade, with each other, like type gun with like type gun with others. This so the firearm we bought is no longer with us, but we have effectively removed even that question of where the firearm is currently. Better than burying it or losing it in a lake, as I read other commentators recommend.


For anyone that believes you do not have de facto registration in this country , you are wrong.. Every time you do a background check you fill out a 4473 form…The form is kept by your FFL dealer as long as he/she is in business.. The dealers have to keep strict detailed records that the ATF periodically checks on in-store visits.. The agents are very strict on compliance with the record keeping… If they run out of business , the dealers have to send all 4473 forms and records in to the ATF… Do you honestly believe that those are… Read more »

Operator Z

Fair point except ballistics. Ballistics change over time as the gun is fired. Plus barrels and firing pins are readily available and easy to change. Not possible they would have such a record. I’m on board with the rest of what you stated.


You’d better tell them? No, I’m free to sell or trade my firearms without someone else’s say so. Although yes, there’s traceability at least to the original purchaser, registration is still illegal, and I’m not my brother’s keeper.


I would tell them if I were you ,if they come calling.. the ATF is a very dirty group and they get away with a lot of stuff… and no you’re not necessarily free to do what you want with the guns… they have a massive book of laws.. one of them says you are not free to sell your firearm for one year after you bought it…they have all kinds of Catch-22s.. if they want you they will find a way to get you..


Trying to fact check you and not finding the one year rule. The time between purchase and sale MAY be relevant if someone is trying to show you actually intended a straw purchase or unlicensed dealing from the start.

As for the “They’ll git ya.” argument, government abuse happens, doesn’t mean we have to kiss their rings.

Wild Bill

@31, If one knows that that the BATFE is dirty, and the BATFE does have a history of dishonest prosecution, they why would you tell them anything?


ATF do NOT have “massive book of laws” all to themselves. Nope. EVERY federal law is part of the massive USC. Most gun related laws are under section 18, I think it is, but not all. Anyone can search and find out what laws ight bind in any given circumstance. Cite your authority for your claim that I cannot sell my gun within one year of purchase. COme on, 18 USC _______ If they come calling, all I need to do is tell them to talk to my attorney, and that I do not talk to government people except under… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Tio, Don’t forget the Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs), which is an even bigger set of books that direct an agency how to interpret and enforce the statutes in the United States Code (USC). Here is the trick: each agency tells the exec branch how they want to interpret and enforce those statutes in the USC. A lot in the CFRs is really questionable.

jack mac

24&7, I do not know about the one year law, but you are right about finding a way to get you, rather anybody. If any government official who cannot find or make a law to harm an individual, then they can fabricate charges or outright violent law to do so. This is not limited to the Feds. Officials can usually find a judge always willing to sign any warrant or fooled into doing so. These warrants can be extremely vague and broad. Warrant servers will not wait for our legal advisors, and will be prepare for opposition, if not hoping… Read more »

Arizona Don

I am unable to find such a law. Tell me where did you find it?

Wild Bill

@31, One of the Babtist Church ladies groups had a “yard sale” no 4473 in sight. Texas… a whole nother country.

Arizona Don

Of course you are correct. However, make no mistake about it the government does try to use the 4473’s as registration forms but they are not accurate. It is not illegal (now) to pass a gun to a relative without registering it or selling it to someone without useless and needless paperwork spelling out to who and what was sold. Furthermore, there is no law stating you must keep a record of the transfer. Therefore, those 4473’s are not very accurate at all. It cannot be proven if the guns were sold or given away so take advantage of such… Read more »


I believe at this point until we can get SCOTUS to enforce Article VI across all levels of government, it’s in the people’s hands to ensure compliance. The Left propelled by the medium of the Democrats is a cancerous scourge embedded into our nation in various regions and locales. A registration scheme and gun bans must be disregarded by those who take their oath seriously. I believe SCOTUS will be able to resolve all the Article VI violations, but they will not be motivated unless “WE THE PEOPLE” demand action and get POTUS to fund expedite the process, because frankly… Read more »


l love how he gets confused while explaining the digital transfer from a paper forms to PDF or ??????? JPEG. How insingnificant that is today with recognition software that can find letters or names and or numbers on a picture document. industry has used this for years to converting old documents to a new digital format rather than retyping documents.

Then his last remark how they maybe able to prevent a killings in the future. Read John Lotts book “The War On Guns” he dives into to how this process does not work to prevent anything. Very interesting read.


Optical character recognition works. Sometimes. Secondly, when information is enshrined in a database, it’s either leaked or hacked.

Wild Bill

, If he could not be a bureaucrat, then what job do you think that he might have? Counter top installer? Farm laborer? Trash truck momback?

Operator Z

If there is a secret registration somewhere I wouldn’t be to worried anyway. It’s the government, they’ll screw it up.

All of my military records went up in flames in a warehouse fire or something. Either way they lost them all. Luckily I had a copy. The only record the government has of me in the military is that I was in from one date to another. There wasn’t even a copy of orders except for basic training.

My point is they don’t know what you have and your a damn fool if you tell them.


This time I broke with tradition and actuallly WATCHED the video. Nice piece, well produced, etc.. but full of hooey. I think the bidniss about converting the file to PDF and then to JPEG is hooey…. JPEG is a high resolution format for recording pixel by pixel. PDF is a lower res format that looks for, recognises, then minimises data used to form recognisable characters, such as lines, letters, boxes, etc.Some flavours of PDF can indeed convert automatically to text, and store the text in a searchable format, also can collate informatnio. It cold easily be programmed to highlight and… Read more »

Heed the Call-up

Yes, I, too, was wondering what those yellow papers were that were being scanned, and also noticed the same thing about the crispness of each page, especially as you stated, these pages were purportedly from FFLs that are no longer in business. I also believe the speaker is not a federal agent. The only fact that we know, that was also stated in that video, is that the federal government is not allowed to create a registry of our firearms. However that video also falsely claimed that the feds don’t have a means of identifying the FFL until they have… Read more »


you have obviously not tried outfits like, where ordinary scanned census documents, hand written in 1900 are easily searchable by computer, online, in minutes, by just about anyone. ALL those old handwritten documents are readily available and have been turned into searchable formats. They can just as EASILY scan all the gun shop records into the same sort of database and search those just as easily. Guess what? When gun shops close and their sales records go back to the Feds for “storage”, you can bet those records get scanned into the very same sort of computer-searchable documents as… Read more »

Fred Lead

As with the March for Our Masters wishlist, this funding proposal for a working searchable database isn’t about safety but eroding historically positive and legal gun culture. The plain fact is fraud defeats any registry, licensing, background check, or any other such system that requires accurate data to function. Straw purchases defeat all these measures and so the system can only harm those who follow the system. Due to Fifth Amendment protections we can’t even prosecuted on the grounds of non-compliance with any of these systems alone, which is one major reason why tracing the gun back to the original… Read more »

Will Flatt

Does nothing to those who have made their own firearms, making their own receiver and building it up with a kit… and there are a LOT of people who’ve been doing that these last few years. There are NO records for 80% kits. No records from builds done from scratch including raw receiver blanks… Plus, we know how screwed up & incomplete the very finite NFA registry is. But if they can ID WHO the gun OWNERS are, well now that’s another barrel of fish. Either way, we know that registration precedes genocide ALWAYS… and since the Commiecrats have already… Read more »


70% success rate and number 1 reason a trace fails is submitted info is faulty.
At 7 min, 08 seconds in.
I would consider that very good when it’s the faulty request info that is the problem.
As he said, once you remove the faulty request info they are at 90% success, that’s well within the acceptable range.

Not gun owners or the nra at fault here.
Maby get them better scanners and more people to get caught up on the tons of backlogged paperwork.

Wild Bill

@Link, Maybe we should, just, dissolve the BATFE, and save the taxpayers a ton of money.

Wild Bill

, Yes, just going back to the Constitution would solve many problems and save our money from the clutches of the IRS.
The BATFE would be particularly easy to do away with because the BATFE is the creature of a Sec. Treas. memo.
BATFE was not created by an act of Congress.