National Tracing Center [NTC].

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National Tracing Center [NTC].

Postby DuncaninFrance » Mon Apr 23, 2018 2:49 pm

By Ben Riley-Smith, US editor The Daily telegraph.

23 APRIL 2018 • 4:02PM

Every day more than a thousand gun trace requests are logged in America. The law enforcement officials behind them want one thing: the name of the weapon's owner.

The request could be for a gun used in a multiple homicide, or abandoned during a drug heist, or dropped by a criminal mid-pursuit.

In films these scenes usually last a few minutes. An officer types a serial number into the computer, waits while it loads and bingo: up pops a profile.

But the reality is not that simple. There is no searchable database of gun owners in America. In fact, such a system is banned by law - meaning a routine search takes about a week.

Instead of a searchable digital database, America has got the National Tracing Center [NTC]. Found on the outskirts of Martinsburg, West Virginia, it is in charge of dealing with the requests.

The facility is run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a wing of the US Justice Department, and staffed by around 350 people.

During a tour of the NTC, The Daily Telegraph was offered a glimpse of the challenges faced from the refusal by gun supporters to allow a list of who owns what.

The National Tracing Center gets more than 2 million pages of gun records every month to process

Many documents are stored in piles by the center's walls awaiting processing

Inside, the building feels more like a university library than a high-tech investigative unit. Boxes, each with a scannable label, are piled half a dozen high against the walls.

They are packed with 44-73 forms, filled out after each gun purchase, and acquisition and disposition records, which detail when a weapon changes hands.

Gun shops keep the records themselves but when they fold, as some 700,000 license holders have in the past, they are sent to the NTC for safekeeping.

The scale of that process is immense. Around two million pages of gun records arrive at the facility every month. In total, between 700 and 800 million pages are stored on site.

A handful of records are submitted electronically on technology that has long fallen out of fashion

Boxes of physical gun records are processed by staff at the center, which has around 350 employees

Documents have to be stripped of staples and have their corners folded back before being scanned

At one point there were so many boxes waiting to be processed that the floor begun to buckle. Now 25 shipping containers help with storage in the car park.

Neil Troppman, a 44-year-old programme manager at the facility who is leading the tour, admits with understatement that the sheer numbers create a “challenge”.

“We’re receiving a higher volume of out-of-business records than we have at any point in our history,” he says.

Sometimes they arrive in terrible condition. Once, after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, records from affected areas were just stuffed into plastic bin bags and sent across.

“By the time we were getting them they had formed mould. Some were sopping wet. There was water in the bottom of the bags,” Mr Troppman recalls.

“Every square inch of surface in the building had gun records laid out on them drying.” Some were even put out on the tarmac of the car park.

But it is in the processing of the documents that the ban’s effects kick in. Each page of gun records is scanned, creating a digital copy which is easier to store.

Neil Troppman, a program manager at the National Tracing Center. The facility deals with all of America's gun trace requests.

Shipping containers in the car park are packed with gun records ready to be processed. There are around 25 on site.

However, no attempt at all is made to take the information on each document and make it more accessible in a database. Such a move would be breaking the law.

The result is that the records - all 700 million pages of them - have to be scanned by eye whenever someone is attempting to trace a gun through the archives.

Wandering the facility, the challenge that creates was laid bare in one part of the building containing rows of small cubicles.

In one, a women was hunched forward over a computer screen. She was scrolling through page after page of black and white forms, each almost identical, reading the scrawled handwriting in search of some vital clue.

It could have been the unique serial number each gun carries, or its manufacture, or a date, or any other sign that helps researchers locate the right weapon.

Employees can spend days scrolling the documents, searching manually for the nugget of information that will lead them to identify the gun owner.

Some documents arrive at the facility in a very damaged condition
Photographs of Donald Trump, the US president, and Mike Pence, his deputy, hang in the entrance to the building

Sometimes they never find it and the job is handed to a colleague, or the trail simply comes to a dead end.

The ban on a database was included in the Gun Control Act of 1968 amid suspicions of what the government would do with such a list. The power of America’s gun lobby, in particular the National Rifle Association, has ensured it has remained that way ever since.

Mr Troppman is careful not to criticise the system, saying that the staff simply work within the parameters set by Congress.

“We’ve got a process in place that works very efficiently for us,” he says.

But the numbers speak for themselves. The average gun trace takes a week or more to complete. Almost one in three times the owner is never identified.

Demand for the NTC’s services is growing all the time. More than 400,000 gun traces were requested last year, double the demand from 20 years ago.

Surely a searchable computer system would help? “Until such a time that things are different it’s not even worth speculating,” Mr Troppman says diplomatically.

For now, and the foreseeable future, the facility is stuck with what it has got.
Duncan

What contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch? -- W.C. Fields
"Many of those who enjoy freedom know little of its price."
You can't fix Stupid, but you can occasionally head it off before it hurts something.

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Re: National Tracing Center [NTC].

Postby Niner » Mon Apr 23, 2018 4:13 pm

That's interesting. Reading about the "car park" and the "plastic bin bags" I thought this has to be another British anti gun rant. But... it isn't all a chicken with shit sauce curry dish. The ATF uses computers and they give free software and hardware to manufacturers and retailers. The problem is when dealers go out of business they have to send their paper records in...and paper is the problem.

FFLs that discontinue business are required by law to send all firearms transaction records to the NTC. Out-of-business records are integral in the firearms tracing process. The NTC receives an average of 1.2 million out-of-business records per month. Since 1968, ATF has received several hundred million such records, and its Out-of-Business Records repository is the only one of its kind in the world.


The NTC oversees the Access 2000 (A2K) program, which is software or software and hardware that is provided to manufacturers (firearms industry members) free of charge enabling the NTC to determine the disposition of a firearm being traced via a serial number query. The data remains the property of the FFL and is not housed at ATF. This program provides the NTC 24/7 access to manufacturer’s records regarding the distributor or retailer to whom the firearms were transferred – which can reduce industry costs automating the trace process. The NTC is limited to accessing the transaction data associated only with the specific firearm that is being traced for a law enforcement agency engaged in a criminal investigation. This program does not contain first purchaser information.


https://www.atf.gov/resource-center/fac ... ing-center

The problem seems to me to be real....but a case of the government not being up to speed with the information overload. Like the VA health system where paper records pilled up and veterans deserving of treatment died waiting. Don't blame the NRA ....blame the politics of inaction. If all data held by fire arms dealers was digital and set up like a spread sheet then when they go out of business it could all be uploaded in to the federal system. If the law provides for the ATF to have the records it shouldn't matter if they get them in searchable condition or not it would seem to me.
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Re: National Tracing Center [NTC].

Postby Niner Delta » Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:00 pm

No matter what goes wrong in the government, or even the country itself, it must be the
fault of the NRA...... right? Because it's the well, uh, it's the ummm, it's the NRA's fault.... right?
And the local and foreign press have to blame somebody......... right?.............. :roll: :roll:
Another article by foreigners that need to mind their own fucking business.


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Re: National Tracing Center [NTC].

Postby DuncaninFrance » Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:58 am

You will notice, Vern, that the information given is that quoted by Neil Trottman who is a programme manager there.
I posted it out of interest not as a criticism of the NRA and in this instance I resent your last comment.

I see NO reason why the information should not nor cannot be digitized, it would make the system work properly and prevent the mess of wet and moldy papers that sometimes arrive.

If the requests that are received by this office are to trace people who are criminals then the faster the system works the better for all and the more cost effective the service would be.
Duncan

What contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch? -- W.C. Fields
"Many of those who enjoy freedom know little of its price."
You can't fix Stupid, but you can occasionally head it off before it hurts something.

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Re: National Tracing Center [NTC].

Postby Niner » Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:57 am

Considering the average age of the leaders of the House and Senate, most of our politicians in leadership positions are ignorant of the modern digital age because they were well into middle age when it started and senior citizens now. They never learned anything about it as the digital age grew rapidly. It's like asking Nancy Pelosi and John McCain who their favorite rap artist is. They haven't a clue as to the modern state of information storage, search and manipulation. Their constituents want pork barrel stuff in their home districts and not an efficiently running bureaucracy. People hate bureaucracy. Everybody hates bureaucracy...even when some of it is really important to the function of society. A lot of government offices, what computer assist they have, is coming from hardware and software that goes back decades.

https://www.pcworld.com/article/3075284 ... uters.html

It's not just the NRA that is the boogie man. There are all the paid lobbyists on both sides of the guns yes and guns no proposition. But it gets to the point that it's like two people arguing about if roses should be planted in the garden or not based on if the flower justifies the thorns...and at the same time....nobody is mowing the lawn.

And like Vern said, when the guy next door throws in his two cents in based on what he has decided to do it tends to irritate the debaters on their own turf. Like when the US inserts itself into every squabble in every country all over the planet has probably upset multitudes of non English speaking people who are goat farmers and such and have grown to hate us.
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Re: National Tracing Center [NTC].

Postby DuncaninFrance » Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:18 pm

Like I said Robert, the 'facts' if that is what they are, are being peddled here are by the AFT, not an outsider........
Duncan

What contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch? -- W.C. Fields
"Many of those who enjoy freedom know little of its price."
You can't fix Stupid, but you can occasionally head it off before it hurts something.

http://www.twgpp.org
http://www.andrewsinfrance.co.uk
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Niner Delta
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Re: National Tracing Center [NTC].

Postby Niner Delta » Tue Apr 24, 2018 5:48 pm

But the problem is that the ATF isn't interested in serving the general public, only the politicians
that hold the purse strings..... :roll:
And if you resent my comment, well we've been down this road before, let's agree to disagree..... :)



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Peace is that brief, quiet moment in history.......... when everybody stands around reloading.

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