ATF Firearms Inspections:

Use of Results to Improve Inspection Targeting Has Been Limited

GGD-93-30BR: Published: Dec 11, 1992. Publicly Released: Dec 11, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' (ATF) compliance inspection activities, focusing on: (1) ATF strategies for inspecting firearms dealer and pawnbroker licensees and applicants; (2) ATF targeting of dealer and pawnbroker licensees and applicants for inspection; and (3) ATF use of inspection results to improve its targeting process.

GAO found that: (1) to promote public safety and assist law enforcement, ATF has five strategies directed primarily at firearms dealers and pawnbroker licensees; (2) strategies include concentrating on inspections for those dealers with serious violation histories or located in high crime areas that would likely reduce violent crime, preventing persons prohibited by law from starting firearms businesses, investigating all referrals made by law enforcement agencies, doing inspections requested by other agencies, and obtaining more information on dealers and pawnbrokers dealing in firearms; (3) area offices determine licensed inspection targets, but ATF does not have written guidance or criteria for selecting inspection targets; (4) area offices select targets on the basis of their assessment of their local firearms environment and information from various sources; (5) ATF could improve its targeting process and use compliance staff more effectively to target licensees and license applicants; and (6) ATF is starting to gather and analyze data needed to improve its targeting of inspections, since it has not systematically analyzed its inspection results.

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