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ATF facility to add explosives database

January 27, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

In addition to keeping track of people who apply to buy a firearm, the local Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives facility will soon begin tracking those who want to buy explosives.

Members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., helped secure $4 million in funding for the facility, which is expected to move from its facility near Falling Waters, W.Va., into an existing building off W.Va. 9 east of Martinsburg, said R.C. Hammond, press secretary for Capito.

The funding was included in the conference report to the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2004, which will soon be signed into law by President Bush, according to a press release from Capito's office.

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The new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives National Licensing Center "will be on the cutting edge of fighting terrorism by assisting law enforcement officers solve crimes involving explosives," Capito said in the press release.

"The National Licensing Center is a key partner in helping law enforcement solve crimes where explosives have been used. Using an extensive database, workers at the new center will track explosive materials sold in the U.S. based on their chemical composition and other relevant information," Capito said in the press release.

Hammond said it is too early to say how many jobs will be created. Some may be taken by federal employees in Atlanta, the current site of explosives databases.

Employees at the Martinsburg facility will manage large databases, perform background checks and process applications, Hammond said.

Officials at the Falling Waters ATF facility declined to comment, referring questions to the agency's Washington office. Nobody was available there late Monday afternoon.

Through a Web-based application, personnel at the center will be able to verify and validate all applications for federal explosives licenses and permits and conduct background checks on those seeking permits. Also, the facility will house the federal Explosives Tracking Database and serve as the official repository of explosives inspection reports and license/permit applications, according to Capito's office.

Falling Waters is home to an ATF facility that tracks applications for purchases of firearms.

"The work done at NELC will keep our communities safe. The new center will provide high-skilled jobs for local workers who will help maintain extensive databases that law enforcement use to keep explosives out of the hands of terrorists and criminals," Capito said in the press release.

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