ATF Keeping 920+ Million Firearm Records with Almost All Digitized

Personal Data Gun Registration Paperwork Privacy iStock-solarseven 1048264146.jpg

WASHINGTON, D.C. -( Congressional Representative Michael Cloud (R-TX) and 51 other Republican Congress members recently sent a letter (embedded below), to ATF questioning the Bureau’s growing database of personal information about American’s gun purchases.

“We are concerned that this Administration is leveraging its power in a way to establish a federal gun registry. Moreover, we are opposed to a recent(sic) proposed regulation that would require federal firearms licensees (FFLs) to facilitate the creation of a federal gun registry.”.

According to a response letter (embedded below), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) acknowledged it has over 920 million firearms records, (920,664,765 records).

Aditionaly, almost 866 million of your personal firearms transaction records have been scanned and digitized out of the nearly one billion records.

AmmoLand News was first to report that the ATF was digitally scanning firearms transaction records, like your personal 4473. From forms that the Bureau has received from gun retailers that have given up their federal firearms license. The ATF has been using scanners equipped with optical character recognition technology (OCR) to digitize the records. Although the ATF claims not to have the ability to search for specific character strings, the fact they are using OCR means that it would only take mere minutes to enable the ability to search the documents.

Remember the Federal 4473 form that you complete when you purchase a gun at a retail gun shop or big-box retailer like Walmart includes such personal data as your full name, address, phone numbers, date of birth, social security number, race, sex, and even your weight. Your certification that you are not on drugs or alcohol. [Hello Hunter Biden] As well as all the unique identifying information of the firearm you are buying or transferring at the time you complete the form including the manufacture, make, model, caliber, and serial number.

ATF Form 4473 Personal Data
ATF Form 4473 Personal Data

But this is NOT a gun registry… In the letter, ATF assures us they do “not capture and store certain key information, such as firearms purchaser information, in an automated file” and “ATF is confident that it does not violate any laws.”

Last November, Gun Owners of America (GOA) received a leak showing that the ATF added 54 million records in a year’s period to the out-of-business records held by the massive government bureaucracy. Fox News’ Tucker Carlson even picked up the report at that time. By law, the Firearms Protection Act bans the ATF from creating a registry of guns, gun owners, or gun sales.  Causing some Congress members to be concerned that the ATF was building a gun registry in violation of long-standing federal law. That concern drove Texas (R) Rep. Cloud and the others to draft a letter to the agency asking tough questions about the ATF’s out-of-business record-keeping practices.

According to the ATF, the Out of Business Record Imaging System was developed because of “practical concerns related to maintaining paper and microfilm records.” The agency has trailers full of documents that are quickly being digitized.

By federal law, the ATF cannot create a gun registry, but all the building blocks for a future registry are falling into place especially with the scanning of documents.

ATF Manages 920664765 Firearms Records
ATF Manages 920,664,765 Firearms Records

Another concerning fact is that the number of private or personal records has tripled since 2016. In that year, the ATF held 285 million records. It is unclear how the ATF managed to add 637 million records in the past five years if it is based on just out-of-business records. The Bureau also didn’t comment on the explosion of the number of records held by the ATF.

The ATF does not go into specifics of what are these records. We can surmise that these records consist of Form 4473s, former or now out-of-business FFL bound books, multiple handgun reports, and forms for lost or stolen firearms. The ATF does not say if the agency considers every single page a separate document or not? The ATF does state that these forms are used for firearms trace requests from local law enforcement agencies, and nothing else.

The records are a concern to gun rights activists because of the recent moves by the ATF to push FFLs to store completed 4473 forms digitally. The ATF has removed the time limit that the FFLs are required to keep the documents on-site, meaning the FFLs can never get rid of a form 4473 once it gets entered into their system except when turning the records over to the ATF. If an FFL turned over the records, then that would mean that those files would become part of the 920 million records currently held by the ATF.

“ATF Did Not Always Comply with the Appropriations Act Restriction and Should Better Adhere to Its Policies” GAO-16-552

ATF Did Not Always Comply with the Appropriations Act Restriction and Should Better Adhere to Its Policies GAO-16-552
ATF Did Not Always Comply with the Appropriations Act Restriction and Should Better Adhere to Its Policies GAO-16-552

The ATF also claimed that a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, GAO-16-552, showing that the ATF has not always complied with Appropriations Act restrictions was not indicative of a more significant issue within the Bureau. Many American gun owners would consider any noncompliance by the ATF with record-keeping laws as a significant problem.

U.S. gun owners and AmmoLand News are waiting to see what the 52 Congress members do with the new information that the ATF provided to Congress.

See Related Articles:

Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX) & 51 GOP Co-Signers Question ATF on Federal Gun Records Database

About John Crump

John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at

John Crump

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What makes this particularly dangerous, is the ease of combining and sorting data with other government databases. Uncle Sam paid me to do that kind of thing, using common off-the-shelf software. For instance, an evil government anti-gun racist could, with one keystroke, get a list of every black Republican Christian woman over 50, with a list of guns she owns, where they are most likely stored, and what would be the best time to go seize them. Once data has been digitized, the capability is there. This opportunity for abuse is like leaving your loaded gun in a child’s toybox.… Read more »


Highly unlikely Hunter is in this data base.


“Upon further review….”

Ever since I first heard one of the “Judge Family” say that in an NFL game I’ve wanted to use it. So here goes.

Upon further review, ATF’s stance that they’re not collecting all of your data, just some it, reminds me of a Carlos Mencia joke.

“You can trust me! I’ll just put it in a little bit, and you’ll still be a virgin.”

Do you trust ATF? Me neither!


The ATFE violated the 1941 Property Requisitions Act and 1986 FOPA. For being non-compliant, every agent and department head involved and the highest responsible manager must be jailed for 10 years and fined $250,000. Each. What is food for citizens is good for our servants.

Henry Bowman

One day closer to Lexington & Concord 2.0!


Possible to create a registry? I argue they have already created a de facto registry.


ATF is confident that it does not violate any laws.” We’re confident that force reset triggers, personally made firearms, bump stocks, and “green tip” 5.56mm ammo don’t violate any laws either. Question is, is the ATF confident enough to plead their case in court? I ask because they were also pretty confident that an AR15 lower met GCA68’s definition of a controllable “firearm.” But now a bunch of courts have ruled that ATF’s opinion is not in agreement with the law. They need to get their ducks in a row, because as sure as Hunter Biden lied on his… Read more »

Wild Bill

Did the BATFE make those warrantless siezures as was reported that they were going to do or was that just a rumor?

Deplorable Bill

Yea right. The atfe PROMISES? The sky is green, your check is in the mail, I won’t raise your taxes and I wont cum……. What they are doing is illegal, they are denied access to any 4473’s until a verified crime has been committed. That is the law. Can some lawyer type back this up please? We should not be surprised that the atfe is involved in another government takeover of our rights and freedoms after all, if theft, assault, lying on government documents, attempted murder and murder are common place and un judged in court with them, a little… Read more »


The ATF also claimed that a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, GAO-16-552, showing that the ATF has not always complied with Appropriations Act restrictions was not indicative of a more significant issue within the Bureau. Many American gun owners would consider any noncompliance by the ATF with record-keeping laws as a significant problem.”
HOWEVER, let an INDIVIDUAL American Citizen do as the AFT(Bidet) does — and see how long that INDIVIDUAL is walking FREELY on the Streets of America!!!!


Talking about “gun registries”, What about the American Government sending “PRIVATE gun ownership Information” overseas?? There was an article about this a while back. Is it still happening?

Tom Claycomb

I’ve always wondered how they can get by with this since that’s exactly what it is, Gun Registration.


Some reasonably cogent comments. 🙁 (unfortunately).
If there is anyone out there that does NOT believe that the bats have been compiling data bases using common sources (ever had a background check done; served in the military; had a driver’s license – and on and on) – then I have some ocean front property in Arizona (all due apologies to King George – Strait, not that english dude) that I will gladly sell you. Hmm, might be a good place for a tragic boating accident………………


hmm… Lawyers will have a field day. Any evidence collected in an illegal manner cannot be used in a prosecution. I wonder who in the ATF is going to jail. Every criminal defense attorney will take note of this. If this was used their evidence would be worthless.


The Bigger Picture…is far worse! A complete risk-profile (read…dossier) of an individual can easily be created by combining the digitized data from 4473 records…with commercially available, historical purchase details of most credit card transactions. The larger retailers, and many medium sized retailers are all capturing and transmitting sku-level purchase history with their transaction approvals to Mastercard and Visa. This is known as “Level-3 transaction data”. Soon, level three data will be required for all credit/debit approvals. The level of effort require to create actionable intelligence from these diverse data stores is quite low…and available commercially from the credit card companies;… Read more »

Country Boy

“ATF is confident that it does not violate any laws.”
The very fact that ATF even exists is against the law.

Miserable Wretch

So they have a gun registry ready to go. Better contact your politicritters or your lawyer buddies to dismantle this nightmare.


On the bright side, the more data they have the harder it is to use. After all, there is only a Billion records to go through. Imagine trying to use individual 35 or 40 year old 4473 information. Death, movement, age, all lead to dead ends. Private property is deniable. Things are sold to people long forgotten. Very few states require records and when they do they carry time limits. Bureaucracy demands useless data. At over 300 million guns in circulation, and millions more added yearly, it is really doubtful that any government can do anything about their existence. Just… Read more »


You are not very familiar with databases, are you? Many process don’t scale well, but well written database software scales practically infinitely. Database tools support all sorts of processing of the data therein. Doesn’t help us much if it takes them a day to create a full list of every AR owner instead of seconds – when they are dispatching enforcement team to confiscate every one. Best first steps at this point are (1) defund AFT (2) dispose of all their records (3) remove firearms info from any background check forms (if you can have a gun, you can have… Read more »


Yes, I believe everything the ATFB says and writes and I also believe that Bidet & hore Admin is very honest and both Bidet and Piglosi’s sons are not felons.


SUPRISE!!!!! Lied to by our government again. I realize now it will never end and is business as usual. They always get what they want because they will always find ways of circumventing the rules. In addition, I realize that they are so devious that when they plan something or make a law or rule for something, they already have their goal mapped out so they obtain what they want through strategic planning and do it one piece at a time with no concern for the constitution or our laws because they know they will be making new rules, laws… Read more »


Having worked in Government for over 20 years this is something I’ve spoke about on this site before. The Government tracks and retains data on everything it has contact with. Legal or otherwise. They have 10’s of thousands of people collecting data every minute of everyday on everything. Before digital entry came about it was done by hand on paper. There are 10’s of thousands of warehouses sitting full of paper files on everything you cam imagine and things you never thought possible. Now with digital files you can multiple that 10 fold. The Government NEVER throws any data away.… Read more »


“Well, who ya gonna believe me or your own eyes?” — ATF, or maybe Chico Marx, in “Duck Soup” (1933)

Last edited 1 year ago by DDS

no we are not violating the law we are the government,same people respect treaties with the native tribes too


There is a letter you can send to congress located here:


“ATF is confident that it does not violate any laws.” At least as as how they interpret to get the results they want. Kind of like a drawing on a metal card is a machine gun.
ATF has no credibility


The PTB ponerology ruling hierarchy class lie to us. We know that lie to us. They know we know they lie to us. They have been lying to humanity @ large about many things since Rome. Noting new under a Roman Masonic Zionist Sun. The Globalist we dream is the UN Iconic symbol of the Gun Barrel tied in a Knot. This would be the submission of the human Spirit & Soul of America that is the exception to the UK Crown ruling Hierarchy’s Masonic power we see daily around the planet. Look at Australia, NZ, Canada, France & you… Read more »

Last edited 11 months ago by Tank

There were 548,186 OBR’s in 2021. There were 261 federal work days in 2022. There were 2,088 work hours. That 262.54 per hour. But there are 920,664,765 records to look through. Nothing to see here!!!!