The ATF traced 20,000 more firearms recovered from crime scenes in 2015 than in the previous year and the figure has grown considerably from years before that, according to data released last week by the agency.
The ATF’s Firearm Trace Data report provides an annual look at crime guns recovered in the U.S. and its territories. The total number of recovered guns traced back to the original buyer amounted to 190,538. That figure is up from 170,344 in year before, 166,476 in 2013, and 156,346 in 2012.
While it’s unclear if the spike in completed traces correlates to an increase in gun-related crimes, an ATF spokeswoman said the data is a reflection of an increase in trace requests.
“As more agencies learn about tracing and the benefits, more law enforcement agencies request traces on the firearms they recover,” said Ginger Colbrun, ATF’s public affairs chief, to Guns.com in an email. She added that requests have steadily increased each year.
The number of requests sent to the agency’s National Tracing Center last year totaled 373,349, a figure that has been in an upward direction for almost three decades.
Local law enforcement agencies usually launch a trace request after a firearm is recovered at a crime scene. Tracking the gun back to its origins aids in solving crimes and also allows law enforcement to identify trafficking trends, according to the ATF’s website.
Of the requests, handguns spiked by roughly 20,000 in 2015 with a total of 195,056 pistols and revolvers. Requests for rifles equaled 41,273, up by 2,419; shotguns were 27,519, up 549; machine guns were 765, up by 48; and silencers were 125, up by 44.
Daniel Terrill contributed to the reporting of this piece