ATF Releases FFL Theft and Losses Report

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Office of Strategic Intelligence and Information released a report earlier this month that lists the number of firearms stolen or lost from a Federal Firearms Licence holders for last year. The FFL Thefts/Losses United States report is short but contains a good bit of information that I thought readers might find as interesting as I did.

The report was put together using information from the bureau’s Firearms Tracing System, a collection of databases that the BATFE maintains that includes Multiple Sale Reports, Suspect Guns, Traced Guns, Out-of-Business Records, and Theft Guns. This particular report pulls from the Theft Guns database and if I am reading it correctly, the ATF only included guns from Type 01 and Type 02 licensees in the numbers. (Type 01 is basically a standard FFL and Type 02 is a pawnbroker.)

The ATF report breaks down and highlights totals from burglary, larceny, robbery and loss, and then the report breaks those totals down by the type of firearm. The report also breaks down the totals by state and territory.

The most interesting thing to me is of course the numbers, particularly the overall totals. The report claims that of the 18,394 firearms missing last year 9,113 of those were lost while the rest were outright stolen.

You can view the report for yourself here 

Scott is a firearms enthusiast and gun hobbyist whose primary interest is the practical application of gun ownership. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he hosts and blogs for The Firearms Podcast, a podcast and blog about gun stuff by gun people. Scott is a 20-year veteran of the USAF and been a member of his base, state and the All Guard marksmanship teams. He can be reached via email at


  • Beju

    “The report claims that of the 18,394 firearms missing last year 9,113 of those were lost while the rest were outright stolen.”

    I had no idea that there were so many unfortunate boating accidents.

    • Russ Kell

      I can’t get anywhere near a body of water now without whatever firearm is on me trying to make a break for it.

      • Mystick

        The fish flop around less than the guns… it’s amazing!

      • Beju

        I usually only have that problem with Hi-Points.

    • Noishkel

      Well come on now. 9.1K lost guns in a year might sound like a lot, but when you know there’s at least 400 million of them in the US you’re going to have so many of them that gets misplaced each year.

  • USMC03Vet

    Guns don’t grow legs and run away. “Lost” is a cute term for stolen by employees.

    • JSmath

      Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many Boston Dynamics videos to be able to agree with you.

    • keazzy

      I swear some of mine have. I recently found a gun that’s been lost for 7 years and moved houses twice.

      • Dougscamo

        This month’s American Rifleman relates a .22 rifle that was found in a pile of leaves beside the garage that had been there so long the stock and forearm had rotted away…needless to say what the action and barrel looked like…

    • Beju

      It could also be, “Stolen from a box car somewhere along the shipping route, but we don’t know when/where/how.”

      • Rick O’Shay

        Looking at you, Chicago.

    • Or sloppy bookkeeping.

    • nova3930

      Or stolen in transit.

    • Mystick

      …destroyed by fire, flood… lost in shipping…

  • gunsandrockets

    There are anywhere from 300 million to 600 million firearms in the United States. I tend to believe the higher estimate is more accurate (as related by Weaponsman, RIP).

    A loss rate of 18,000 per year is about a loss rate of 0.003%, which ain’t bad.

    • Rick O’Shay

      But this is losses by FFLs. The 300-600m figure is ALL firearms, the vast majority which are in private hands. These figures are strictly store inventory losses. I’d wager the number of guns stolen/lost from private owners is exponentially higher.

      • BravoSeven

        I have stated this in previous posts but one of my duties is entering stolen firearms to NCIC for local agencies. We take multiple calls everyday from people reporting their weapons stolen. The majority of those guns are stolen at night time from vehicles. It’s mind blowing how many people leave their guns in a car or truck overnight. It’s very frustrating because those thefts could be easily avoided. Even worse is the number of people that call to report a weapon stolen but they don’t have the serial number.

      • gunsandrockets

        You make a fair point.


        WASHINGTON – About 1.4 million firearms were stolen during household burglaries and other property crimes over the six-year period from 2005 through 2010, according to a report released today by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). This number represents an estimated average of 232,400 firearms stolen each year— about 172,000 stolen during burglaries and 60,300 stolen during other property crimes.


        I doubt lost firearms show a similar scale of increase from FFL losses.

        But setting that aside for a moment, the theft numbers still show a loss rate of 0.04% per year, an absurdly tiny proportion of guns in America.

        On the other hand, the scale of stolen firearms is a close match to the total number of criminal acts per year which involved firearms, about a quarter of a million stolen firearms vs a half million violent crimes with guns. Indicating that stolen guns alone are a more than adequate source to supply all the guns used in criminal violence in the United States.

  • BattleshipGrey

    Do they release this info every year or is it just years that the ATF didn’t show up in the news for having “lost” some themselves?

    • Hey! ATF didn’t “lose” those– they knew exactly where they were at when the battery ran out in the tracking device!

  • Ken

    The interesting thing I find is the Robbery data for each state. Some peculiar ones are North Carolina and Maryland. North Carolina has 3 robbery reports and 62 firearms taken by robbery. That would mean an average of 20 firearms were taken in each robbery. Maryland is an average of 12 firearms per robbery. If robbery is taking someone’s property by force, who is carrying around that many firearms? If they were forcibly taken from someone’s home/business, wouldn’t they fall under the burglary category (which is unlawful entry into a structure)?

    • Mystick

      Yeah, I would have to agree. There was a home-store that was… [burgled?] around here not too long ago.

  • Scott Tuttle

    what would be nice is if there was an online database so you could check to see if a gun you were buying/bought has been reported stolen.

    • Dougscamo

      There is….if you want to involve a LE agency….NCIS…

      • Scott Tuttle

        you got a link for it? kind of my point, pita going to see the cops for it or if you’re meeting with the seller. its not like its secret information?

        • BravoSeven

          It’s not NCIS… It’s NCIC. Your local law enforcement agency should run the serial number for you if you ask. Just be prepared to answer some questions if for some reason the gun is stolen. There’s no way a private citizen can access a list of stolen firearms. Access to NCIC is a regulated by the FBI.

          • Dougscamo

            You’re absolutely correct…been retired too long…

  • Hoplopfheil

    I hope nobody lost that little Taurus 911. Those are neat.

  • roo

    how do you “lose” 28 machine guns????

    • Mystick

      flood…. fire… UPS…

  • cisco kid

    Many times gun owners report guns stolen so they can collect the insurance money on them and then they sell them and make money a 2nd time. It happens far more frequently than is generally realized. Vetting all gun sales would really cut down on this type of fraud as well as keeping the so called “legal un-vetted second hand guns” from finding there way into the hands of criminals as has been proven though police tracings.

  • Joshua Graham

    What gun is that in the upper left hand part of the picture?

  • Just Say’n

    The late, great Hognose had a great write-up on this on just before he passed away. His last post actually. Nice graphics too.

  • Michael

    For some reason, it was quite difficult for me to read that article. I’m not sure if it was the sentence structure, the word choices, or something else. Did anyone else notice that?

    Either way, having 50% of the missing firearms to be classified as “lost”, is extremely shocking. If any of my guns were truly lost, I would be freaking out until I found it. It can’t be like losing your car keys.

  • The_Champ

    Secure your firearms; it’s part of being a responsible gun owner. There is no good reason to make it easy for a crook to steal your guns.

  • Wild Bill

    Wouldn’t it be great if the public could access that data to verify the serial number on used guns? At least the make, model and serial numbers.

  • nonobaddog

    I read about a break in at a gun store here. A bunch of guns were stolen and then later many of them were recovered. Are those guns in these statistics?

  • Noishkel

    Interesting data. But I have something else I’d like to see from the ATF and it’s something that never gets reported. And that is: how many times do we see duplicate serial numbers showing up on ‘crime guns’? And I’ve personally see several documentaries where they show that part of the illegal arms trade involved illicit production quality copies of common guns designs. I’ve never really seen any real good info how many obviously homemade copies end up as ‘crime guns’.