An audit by the ATF in 2005 in regard to NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network) states:
Finally, we found that the ATF had established minimal controls to ensure that ballistic images of bullets and cartridge casings from newly manufactured, imported, or sold firearms are not entered into NIBIN in violation of the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1996. However, we found no evidence that NIBIN users were entering prohibited data into the system.
As far as I can tell, the relevant portion of this Act (Cornell Law Link) is:
No such rule or regulation prescribed after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions be established. Nothing in this section expands or restricts the Secretary’s 1 authority to inquire into the disposition of any firearm in the course of a criminal investigation.
While the definition of Firearm is:
The term “firearm” means (A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon; (C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or (D) any destructive device. Such term does not include an antique firearm.
A bullet and casing is not mentioned or provided for in the language of this act so that the following process is legally possible: ATF requires all gun manufacturers to submit bullets/casings to NIBIN and keep their own records of the bullet/gun pairs.
As far as I can tell, this type of requirement would not satisfy the prohibition on keeping a registration of firearms. Why, then, does the ATF specifically state in their Audit that they cannot force newly manufactured ballistics into NIBIN?