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Prosecutors' Guide to the ATF: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2003
23 pages
This document provides information to prosecutors about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
Successful prosecution of gun crime requires going beyond the arresting officer’s report and initial incident investigation. The services and information from ATF are available to prosecutors to build a solid case against an individual accused of violating either State or Federal firearm statutes. Through Project Safe Neighborhoods, State and local prosecutors are increasingly relying upon the skills and resources of ATF to investigate and prosecute gun crime cases. The Department of the Treasury delegated responsibility to ATF to enforce selected provisions of several Federal laws. These Acts entitle ATF to regulate firearm traffic into, from, and within the United States. Through these regulatory capabilities, ATF is able to provide many elements of an illegal firearm investigation that would not otherwise be available to prosecutors. ATF is authorized to inspect the records of Federal Firearm Licenses (FFL), which is responsible for keeping detailed records regarding each firearm sale. This information can be useful to a prosecutor when a legally purchased firearm is recovered from a crime scene. There are various programs and services provided by ATF that can be of special interest to prosecutors, including the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network program and the Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative. The Project Safe Neighborhoods program is a three-day training program to improve the level of crime gun interdiction and subsequent prosecution. The training builds professional partnerships between prosecutors, law enforcement, and ATF special agents in an effort to collectively use their resources to investigate and prosecute cases involving firearms traffickers and armed violent offenders. ATF has also formulated an instructional unit for prosecutors and law enforcement officers to sensitize them regarding the characteristics of armed persons. Appendix

Date Published: March 1, 2003