Circa, mid-1990s. One warm, bright day an officer of my agency was in the police garage–which was the lower level of a parking structure, open to the public–walking to his police car prior to beginning a shift when a local skateboarder rolled into the entrance, and seeing him, carved an arc in his direction. As he rolled nearer, they saw he was carrying what appeared to be an MP5–a submachine gun. He didn’t seem hostile, so didn’t end up ventilated, but that must have been an interesting sight. One doesn’t see skateboarders armed with state of the art automatic weapons every day.
It was indeed an MP5, one issued to a local FBI agent who put it on the trunk of his car, and somehow forgot about it and walked away. Skateboarders loved to annoy the feds in their parking garage and this particular skateboarder found the gun and since no one was around in fed land, skated through downtown to the local police department. Public spirited lad.
We handled it discreetly, and didn’t rag the very embarrassed Fibby too much. They really don’t have much of a sense of humor about such things, and local/fed relations are never entirely cordial. Perhaps we shouldn’t have much of a sense of humor about such things these days either, particularly with Eric Holder in charge of the DOJ and running guns to terrorists and murderers. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
ATF agents have lost track of dozens of government-issued guns, after stashing them under the front seats in their cars, in glove compartments or simply leaving them on top of their vehicles and driving away, according to internal reports from the past five years obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Agents left their guns behind in bathroom stalls, at a hospital, outside a movie theater and on a plane, according to the records, obtained Tuesday by the news organization under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
In December 2009, two 6-year-old boys spotted an agent’s loaded ATF Smith & Wesson .357 on a storm sewer grate in Bettendorf, Iowa. The agent lived nearby and later said he couldn’t find his gun for days but didn’t bother reporting it — until it hit the local newspaper.
In Los Angeles in 2011, an agent went out to a bar drinking with other agents and friends, reportedly consuming four alcoholic beverages. The next morning he woke up and realized his ATF-issued Glock was gone. It was not found.
All of the agents’ names are blacked out on the reports, which do not say if the agents were disciplined. It is clear that agency rules were not followed in many of the incidents, which show at least 49 guns were lost or stolen nationwide between 2009 and 2013.
One report on an agent who lost her gun when she moved concluded by quoting an ATF order that, in part, says bureau-issued guns when not carried or in the immediate control of the agents ‘shall be stored in secured, locked locations.’
The order also says agents ‘must exercise good judgment and common sense when assessing the security of Bureau-issued firearms.’
In Milwaukee, an undercover agent had three of his guns, including an ATF-owned machine gun, stolen from his government truck parked at a coffee shop in September 2012.
Oh dear. And it wasn’t confined to Milwaukee either:
The newly released ATF reports show that between 2009 and 2013, agents lost their guns or had them stolen in at least 45 incidents — with a couple of the cases involving the loss of three firearms.
It is unclear if the records include ‘missing’ guns, a separate category used by the agency.
Most of the lost weapons were handguns, but there also were at least two assault rifles stolen. Typically the reports do not indicate what happened to the unrecovered guns. However, in a November 2008 incident, the gun may have wound up in Mexico, according to the report.
The ATF has weapons stolen or loses them more frequently than other federal law enforcement agencies, according to a 2008 report from the Office of the Inspector General with the U.S. Department of Justice.
In a five-year span from 2002-’07, for example, 76 ATF weapons were reported stolen, lost or missing, according to the report. That’s nearly double the rate of the FBI and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, when considering rates per 1,000 agents.
The inspector general’s office found the majority of losses and thefts were a result of carelessness or failure to follow ATF policy.
The report cited examples similar to those in the documents obtained by the Journal Sentinel, with agents leaving weapons in public bathrooms, atop their vehicles, on an airplane and one in a shopping cart.
By all means, read the entire article.
Law enforcement agencies are always hampered by the fact that they have to recruit from the human race. Officers misplacing and forgetting weapons is, thankfully, not common, but it’s certainly not unheard of. Fortunately, it never happened to me.
Past attempts to abolish the ATF have always run into a significant obstacle: the other federal law enforcement agencies have always refused to fold ATF agents into their ranks, considering them the bottom of the federal barrel. This situation certainly doesn’t help their reputation.
It’s also something to remember when citizen control advocates claim that only the police–and particularly federal “professionals”–should be allowed arms.