BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Nearly 6,000 firearms were recovered by law enforcement and traced in Alabama in 2016, according to an ATF firearm trace report.
"The trace information helps us create a timeline," says Michael Knight of the ATF. "Our purpose is to create timeline of when that firearm is purchased and how many criminal acts that firearm was involved with."
Of the nearly 6,000 traces, the original source state was identified in more than 4,500. The results show that firearms recovered by law enforcement in Alabama most often originated inside the state. Nearly 3,700 firearms were traced back to an original sale in Alabama.
But firearms are also coming from elsewhere around the country into Alabama. More than 220 firearms recovered in the state came from Georgia, 115 from Florida, and 93 from Mississippi.
Nationwide, Alabama ranks 13th as a source state for a recovered firearm in the country. More than 5,700 firearms recovered traced back to Alabama.
Many of them were recovered in nearby states, such as Georgia (368 firearms), Florida (314 firearms), and Tennessee (156 firearms). Some firearms are reaching faraway states, including California (156) and New York (104).
"We are concerned that the public maybe purchasing firearms from the internet that were originally stolen – stolen from the public, stolen from federal firearms licensees, like gun shops," explains Knight.
Knight recommends that buyers know their sellers. If there are any doubts about safety or the origins of the firearm, he says you can contact a gun store to facilitate the sale and conduct a background check for a fee.
And even if you don't plan to buy a firearm this holiday season, Knight says it's always a good time to take inventory of what you already have. He suggests recording the serial number and taking a photo of your firearm, and storing that information separately.