Firearms traces by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives increased more than 10 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to a report from the agency released on Tuesday.
The report shows the ATF ran 322,078 traces of firearms recovered in the United States during 2017. The agency ran 289,223 in 2016, which means it processed 32,855 more in 2017. That represents an increase of 11.3 percent over the previous year.
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The report said California had 41,527 trace requests in 2017, making it the state with the most requests in the country. The state also had the most requests in 2016.
The most commonly traced caliber was 9mm, and handguns were the most commonly traced type of firearm. Revolvers, rifles, and shotguns were the next most popular trace requests. "Time to crime," which the ATF describes as "the period of time (measured in days) between the first retail sale of a firearm and a law enforcement recovery of that firearm during a use, or suspected use, in a crime" decreased slightly from 9.79 years in 2016 to 9.3 years in 2017.
In addition to the more than 300,000 traces conducted on firearms from the United States, the ATF also traced a number of firearms recovered in foreign countries like Canada and Mexico. In total, the agency traced over 400,000 firearms.
Firearms traces are generally requested by state and federal law enforcement agencies when they want to discover the origins of a firearm in their custody. Most, though not all, traces involved firearms used in crime.
The ATF said the increase in traces was based on a number of factors and doesn't necessarily indicate an increase in gun crime.
"The increases in traces, in part, is due to the increase of law enforcement departments that are providing the information on recovered firearms," Michael Knight, ATF public information officer, told the Washington Free Beacon. "In addition, ATF's crime gun intelligence focuses on leveraging technology [tracing, NIBIN—National Integrated Ballistic Information Network] to disrupt the shooting cycle that negatively impacts our neighborhoods."