The program is an expansion of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' Electronic Tracing System based in Martinsburg, W.Va.

ATF Special Agent April Carroll says authorities plan to expand the program to other states. She said Illinois and Maryland are next in line.


Various laws and spending bills have specifically barred the ATF from creating a national database of guns and gun owners. And due to the efforts of lawmakers, including former Rep. Todd Tiahrt of Kansas, ATF agents who trace the history of a gun can't share that information with anyone but the police agency that asked for it.

Under the Virginia program, police agencies can share their information directly and electronically without ATF's involvement.