Our firearms activities

We help police to trace firearms and link them to crime scenes and criminals across international borders

Following the smoking gun

Tracing the history and ownership of all recovered illicit firearms and comparing ballistics evidence of recovered cartridge casings and ammunition can provide valuable investigative leads. This can link seemingly unrelated crimes across many countries.

The firearms recovered from a crime may not always be the proverbial ‘smoking gun’ but they do provide essential clues. We help member countries to identify trafficked firearms and the perpetrators, and make links to the wider patterns of related crimes.  

Every firearm is unique and can be identified by its serial number, make, model and caliber, and fired bullets leave microscopic markings. Putting the pieces of the puzzle together in firearms trafficking investigations is extremely complex, so we have developed expert tools to guide law enforcement authorities.

Illicit Firearms

Tracing firearms and sharing of ballistic data

We help law enforcement agencies address firearms crimes with three specific tools:

  • The Illicit Arms Records and Tracing Management System (iARMS) which stores records of illicit firearms, including stolen, lost, trafficked/smuggled and seized firearms submitted for tracing.
  • The INTERPOL Firearms Reference Table (IFRT) is an interactive online tool that provides a standard framework for identifying and describing firearms.
  • The INTERPOL Ballistic Information Network (IBIN) enables law enforcement officials to compare images of ballistics (such as fired bullets and casing) to connect crimes.

Training and capacity building for firearms

Understanding how to use firearms capabilities is key to responding effectively to the challenges of transnational firearm-related crime. We work extensively with partners and stakeholders to offer training courses and related reference materials that enhance the skills of law enforcement officers to combat firearms crimes, particularly illicit firearms trafficking.

Firearms Recovery Protocol

The Firearms Recovery Protocol provides guidance to law enforcement authorities when investigating a recovered firearm or expended ammunition cartridge. The protocol has both a law enforcement and forensics component, with the ultimate goal of both parties sharing information to solve cases of firearms trafficking.

Analyzing firearms crime data

We develop and disseminate research and analysis on firearm-related crime trends and techniques, as well as intelligence on firearm trafficking routes and methods. This supports operational police activities and provides timely warning of threats.

Raising the alert

Our notices system can be used to alert member countries to imminent firearm-related threats.

  • An Orange Notice can be issued to warn police, public entities and other international organizations about potential threats posed by disguised firearms which they may not detect under normal circumstances.
  • A Purple Notice can be issued to share information about specific firearms, their parts and related objects, as well as modus operandi for firearm-related crime and trafficking.

 For more information or questions, please contact the INTERPOL Firearms Programme.