Countless Firearms Missing from Federal Law Enforcement Agencies
Federal law enforcement agencies have lost nearly 1,000 guns since 2006. The Department of Homeland Security, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons lose countless guns, grenades, bullets, and other “expendables” every year to theft and poor inventory tracking.
Uzis, assault rifles, and grenade launchers are among the ever-growing list of missing firearms.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is investigating the severity of the problem and whether any progress has been made after the Justice Department Office of the Inspector General exposed these issues in multiple reports dating back to 2003, reports Federal News Radio.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said, "The loss of single firearm is cause for concern – the loss of what amounts to roughly five a month is unacceptable."
Department of Justice IG, Michael Horowitz, said after its most recent audit, the Bureau of Prisons (BoP) implemented three of the 14 recommendations listed in the report–roughly the amount of progress he expected.
Under the current inventory system, BoP does not have a way to track “expendables,” making it near impossible to decipher what was being used from what may have been stolen, Horowitz said.
Additionally, the inventory was improperly coded. Meadows said that bureau had coded $67,000 worth of inmate clothing and $15,000 of feminine hygiene products as body armor, and $113,000 of food coded as chemical weapons and equipment. Meanwhile, DHS had a firearm procurement code “for the cable dude.”
Thomas Kane, acting director of the bureau, said that a new inventory control system would be in place in early winter of 2017, and updates on the system would be available in spring.
Meanwhile, Jeff Orner, DHS’ chief readiness support officer, said most of the missing guns DHS were stolen out of cars. DHS loses 69 firearms per year on average, and 75 percent of those are to theft. In 2015, it reported 72 lost firearms, and 16 of those were recovered.
In response, DHS installed gun lockers in all official vehicles and mandated that if a gun was in a vehicle without the officer, it had to be in the locker, and the car had to be locked as well.
Orner said every incident is investigated, but they don’t always result in disciplinary action.
“The actions taken as a result of those losses depend on the nature of the incident,” Orner said. “Somebody who does not follow procedures and leaves a weapon on the seat of a car, that would mandate a disciplinary action. On the other hand, if you have for example a Coast Guard officer doing a boarding who is jostled and loses the weapon overboard, that’s an entirely different type of situation, although it’s still a lost weapon.”
This isn’t the first time federal officers have lost their government-issued firearms. In 2014, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed that ATF agents lose their guns all the time in bars, bathroom stalls, movie theaters, and hospitals. In one instance, an agent left his sidearm on top of the car (forgot it was still there) and drove off.
Over at the Bureau of Land Management, officials have lost eight firearms since 2005. One in the mail, while the other seven were stolen. Six of those were recovered. One was used in a shooting in San Francisco in 2015 after it had been stolen out of a personal vehicle four days prior.
BLM has 1,480 firearms, 1,048 of which are issued to officers, while rest are used for training and ceremonial purposes, or are inoperable. BLM issues four weapons to each of its officers: a primary semi-automatic handgun, a backup semi-automatic handgun, a shotgun and a semi-automatic rifle.
“We have got to know where these ammunition and weapons are going,” Rep. Jode Hice (R-Ga.) said. “We have got to get to the bottom of this. Americans should never fear the irresponsibility of our government agents who are incapable of keeping properly a weapon issued by our government.”
Posted in General News