[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 14 (Tuesday, January 22, 2013)]
[Presidential Documents]
[Pages 4301-4302]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-01278]

                        Presidential Documents 

Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 14 / Tuesday, January 22, 2013 / 
Presidential Documents

[[Page 4301]]

                Memorandum of January 16, 2013

Tracing of Firearms in Connection With Criminal 

                Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and 

                Reducing violent crime, and gun-related crime in 
                particular, is a top priority of my Administration. A 
                key component of this effort is ensuring that law 
                enforcement agencies at all levels--Federal, State, and 
                local--utilize those tools that have proven most 
                effective. One such tool is firearms tracing, which 
                significantly assists law enforcement in reconstructing 
                the transfer and movement of seized or recovered 
                firearms. Responsibility for conducting firearms 
                tracing rests with the Department of Justice's Bureau 
                of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). 
                Over the years, firearms tracing has significantly 
                assisted law enforcement in solving violent crimes and 
                generating thousands of leads that may otherwise not 
                have been available.

                Firearms tracing provides two principal benefits. 
                First, tracing is an important investigative tool in 
                individual cases, providing law enforcement agents with 
                critical information that may lead to the apprehension 
                of suspects, the recovery of other guns used in the 
                commission of crimes, and the identification of 
                potential witnesses, among other things. Second, 
                analysis of tracing data in the aggregate provides 
                valuable intelligence about local, regional, and 
                national patterns relating to the movement and sources 
                of guns used in the commission of crimes, which is 
                useful for the effective deployment of law enforcement 
                resources and development of enforcement strategies. 
                Firearms tracing is a particularly valuable tool in 
                detecting and investigating firearms trafficking, and 
                has been deployed to help combat the pernicious problem 
                of firearms trafficking across the Southwest border.

                The effectiveness of firearms tracing as a law 
                enforcement intelligence tool depends on the quantity 
                and quality of information and trace requests submitted 
                to ATF. In fiscal year 2012, ATF processed 
                approximately 345,000 crime-gun trace requests for 
                thousands of domestic and international law enforcement 
                agencies. The Federal Government can encourage State 
                and local law enforcement agencies to take advantage of 
                the benefits of tracing all recovered firearms, but 
                Federal law enforcement agencies should have an 
                obligation to do so. If Federal law enforcement 
                agencies do not conscientiously trace every firearm 
                taken into custody, they may not only be depriving 
                themselves of critical information in specific cases, 
                but may also be depriving all Federal, State, and local 
                agencies of the value of complete information for 
                aggregate analyses.

                Maximizing the effectiveness of firearms tracing, and 
                the corresponding impact on combating violent crimes 
                involving firearms, requires that Federal law 
                enforcement agencies trace all recovered firearms taken 
                into Federal custody in a timely and efficient manner.

                Therefore, by the authority vested in me as President 
                by the Constitution and the laws of the United States 
                of America, I hereby direct the following:

                Section 1. Firearms Tracing. (a) Federal law 
                enforcement agencies shall ensure that all firearms 
                recovered after the date of this memorandum in the 
                course of criminal investigations and taken into 
                Federal custody are traced through ATF at the earliest 
                time practicable. Federal law enforcement agencies, as 
                well as other executive departments and agencies, are 
                encouraged, to the extent practicable, to take steps to 
                ensure that firearms recovered

[[Page 4302]]

                prior to the date of this memorandum in the course of 
                criminal investigations and taken into Federal custody 
                are traced through ATF.

                    (b) Within 30 days of the date of this memorandum, 
                ATF will issue guidance to Federal law enforcement 
                agencies on submitting firearms trace requests.
                    (c) Within 60 days of the date of this memorandum, 
                Federal law enforcement agencies shall ensure that 
                their operational protocols reflect the requirement to 
                trace recovered firearms through ATF.
                    (d) Within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, 
                each Federal law enforcement agency shall submit a 
                report to the Attorney General affirming that its 
                operational protocols reflect the requirements set 
                forth in this memorandum.
                    (e) For purposes of this memorandum, ``Federal law 
                enforcement agencies'' means the Departments of State, 
                the Treasury, Defense, Justice, the Interior, 
                Agriculture, Energy, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland 
                Security, and such other agencies and offices that 
                regularly recover firearms in the course of their 
                criminal investigations as the President may designate.

                Sec. 2. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this 
                memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise 
                affect the authority granted by law to a department or 
                agency, or the head thereof.

                    (b) This memorandum is not intended to, and does 
                not, create any right or benefit, substantive or 
                procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any 
                party against the United States, its departments, 
                agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or 
                agents, or any other person.

                Sec. 3.  Publication. The Attorney General is 
                authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in 
                the Federal Register.
                    (Presidential Sig.)

                THE WHITE HOUSE,

                    Washington, January 16, 2013

[FR Doc. 2013-01278
Filed 1-18-13; 8:45 am]
Billing code 4410-19