||BRADLEY A. BUCKLES, DIRECTOR
BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, AND FIREARMS
RAYMOND W. KELLY, COMMISSIONER
U. S. CUSTOMS SERVICE
W. RALPH BASHAM, DIRECTOR
FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINING CENTER
BRIAN L. STAFFORD, DIRECTOR
U. S. SECRET SERVICE
CHARLES O. ROSSOTTI, COMMISSIONER
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE
JAY JOHNSON, DIRECTOR
TOM FERGUSON, DIRECTOR
BUREAU OF ENGRAVING AND PRINTING
OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL
||LAWRENCE H. SUMMER
||Establishing Institutional Crime Gun Tracing and Ballistics Identification
Under President Clinton's leadership, this Administration has made the prevention and solution of violent crimes key aspects of its law enforcement agenda. We have focused on gun crime in particular, and the Treasury and Justice Departments have made the apprehension and punishment of gun offenders central to their efforts. Over the course of the last eight years, we have met with notable success. The rate of violent crime generally, and gun crime in particular, has dropped substantially. The homicide rate is at its lowest in over 30 years, and the rate of gun violence has dropped 35 percent since 1992. Despite this significant progress, violent crime remains a serious problem. We recognize that we must continue to take steps to ensure the safety of the American public.
As the Justice and Treasury Departments have worked together to meet our objectives, we have also sought to provide law enforcement personnel at the Federal. State, and local levels with the most effective and modern techniques and technology. Information is one of the most powerful tools law enforcement officers can employ to enhance the performance of their duties and simplify their execution. Accordingly, we have endeavored to increase access to better sources of accurate and reliable information. For example, the Administration has recently invested heavily in two complementary tools that are rapidly transforming Federal, State, and local firearms enforcement: crime gun tracing and ballistics identification.
Tracking the history of each firearm, spent bullet, and shell casing recovered from a crime scene assists law enforcement investigators in solving the crime at hand, developing information on illegal firearms trafficking patterns, and formulating strategies to identify violent offenders and respond to the illegal supply of firearms within a given jurisdiction. In 1999, over 200,000 trace requests were submitted to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' (ATF's) National Tracing Center. ATF reported using gun tracing as an investigative tool in 60 percent of over 1,500 trafficking investigations between 1996 and 1998. ATF has promoted comprehensive tracing in 50 designated cities as part of its Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative and encourages comprehensive tracing by all law enforcement agencies. These traces have significantly assisted law enforcement ATF and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ballistics imaging programs have identified thousands of gun crime leads that may otherwise not have been available.
In recognition of the immense value of this information, Attorney General Janet Reno and I have determined that all Treasury and Justice enforcement bureaus and agencies should trace every recovered crime gun through ATF's National Tracing Center and enter bullets and shell casings found at a crime scene into the ATF/FBI National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN). Accordingly, if your agency is not already doing so, you should implement this directive by assuring that every crime gun recovered by your agent; and investigators is traced by coordinating with your local ATF office. Similarly, ballistic evidence recovered from crime scenes should be entered into NIBIN For assistance in facilitating your efforts, or for more information, please contact ATF, John P. Malone, Assistant Director (Firearms, Explosives and Arson) at (202) 927-7940.
The dedicated effort demonstrated by your agency in striving to reduce violent crime has been paying dividends. By taking this extra step, we can continue to improve upon our successes.