The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is currently managing a database of over 920 million firearm purchases in the United States, The Washington Free Beacon reports.
The agency's assistant director of Public and Governmental Affairs, Daniel Board Jr., informed Rep. Michael Cloud, R-Texas, in a letter sent in response to a letter signed by Cloud and 51 of his congressional colleagues, that ATF created the Out of Business Records Imaging System in 2006 "due to practical concerns related to maintaining paper and microfilm records. This legacy system was replaced by the Enterprise Content Management imaging repository system. Congress specifically supported this digitalized formatting effort in ATF's annual appropriation the previous year."
He added, "The sole purpose of these systems is to trace firearms used in crimes, which is a valuable crime gun intelligence tool used in thousands of investigations by ATF and our local, State, and Federal law enforcement partners.”
Board also noted that a report from the Government Accountability Office determined: "ATF collects and maintains firearms transaction information in each system incident to the implementation of specific statutory authority and it does not exceed those statutory purposes"
The agency manages a total of 920,664,765 Out of Business Records as of November of last year, most of which are in a digitized format.
"The vast majority of the criminal firearms traces completed by the ATF National Tracing Center (NTC) are done for State and local law enforcement agencies across the country pursuant to active law enforcement investigations," Board continued. "The NTC only traces crime guns, and every trace must be identified as such by the requestor by selecting an appropriate crime code when submitting the trace request."
He adds, "The NTC has no ability to determine the successful prosecution of hundreds of thousands of crime gun traces it completes annually, nor does it have any way to link a trace for a specific prosecution for a particular year."
Board concluded, "ATF is confident that it does not violate any laws. Additionally, please be assured that ATF always conducts a rigorous review to address issues raised through the public comment process."
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