ATF: Gun traces in Canada up 20 percent over the last five years

Seized guns taken during Project Rebel, a joint operation involving Ontario, ATF and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

Seized guns taken during Project Rebel, a joint operation involving Ontario, ATF and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

Guns recovered and traced in Canada increased 20 percent over the last five years, according to a federal report published last week.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives released international tracing data Wednesday for Canada, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean gathered through the agency’s National Tracing Center.

The ATF recovered more than 1,500 firearms in Canada last year, according to the report — a 3 percent increase over 2015 and 20 percent higher than 2011. The agency traced 45 percent of the recovered firearms back to U.S. retailers and another 30 percent to foreign countries. One quarter of the recovered guns were untraceable, the agency said.

The report offered several explanations for the untraceable guns, including missing or incomplete paperwork provided by a federally licensed firearms dealer, obliterated serial numbers, or recovering guns “too old to trace.”

“The success of a trace result, whether domestic or international, relies upon the accuracy of the supplied firearm identifiers,” the agency said in the report. “The necessary identifiers for a trace include manufacturer, importer (if applicable), model, caliber and serial number.”

The ATF traced more than 364,000 firearms recovered last year in the United States and 129 other countries. Traces have increased nearly 28 percent over the last six years, according to report findings, though remain flat compared to 2015.

“Firearms tracing provides valuable investigative leads, specific trend data for ATF and its international partners, and information on the movement of a firearm from the manufacturer or importer through the distribution chain in an attempt to identify its first retail purchaser,” the agency said in a press release Wednesday.