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450 Mayors Petition Obama To Adopt Broad Gun Reform

Because serial numbers are sometimes obliterated on crime guns, the study also wants ATF to require that manufacturers stamp new guns with a second, hidden serial number.

Another recommendation calls for the FBI to notify local and state law enforcement every time a person attempts to buy a gun, but does not pass the background check.

"Federal law enforcement should communicate that red flag to the state and local authorities that may be best positioned to address the threat," the report says, suggesting the use of e-mail alerts.

And federal prosecutors should more aggressively prosecute people who fail the background check, the study says. In 2005, the FBI referred 67,713 cases to the ATF, but federal prosecutors pursued only 135 of those cases.

Proposed changes urge that the ATF be given additional manpower. The agency has about 2,500 agents spread among 22 field divisions, the study says, and lacks resources to effectively police gun trafficking across state and national borders.

The report wants money for a "Interstate Firearms Trafficking Unit," to better coordinate ATF investigations. Former ATF officials, according to the report, say it is common for agents to fail to reach out to their counterparts in different states. Without such coordination, investigations "may be compromised by regional ATF offices and joint task forces working at cross-purposes."

The ATF also needs $53 million to hire more field inspectors to ensure compliance by gun dealers, the report said. At the current pace, dealers are inspected once every 11 years, instead of the agency's goal of once every three years, according to the report.

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