(UncleSam) – How did an Army Beretta M9 that the Army thought was safely put away at Fort Bragg find its way to New York in the hands of a criminal? Military gun thefts have reportedly caused over 1,900 weapons to go missing over the last decade. An Associated Press investigation that involved FOIA requests and building their own database over ten years revealed a problem with Military gun thefts. What kind of repercussions can the military expect from Congress with their millions and millions of guns and other weapons?
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Military gun thefts: money talks
The Beretta M9 was found in the hands of man who was attempting to use a hostage. Though that failed, when police checked out the gun, they found that it was involved in four shootings in Albany, New York. But the gun belonged to the US Army, and they didn’t know it was missing. Inventory records showed it safely stowed at Fort Bragg.
Government records covering the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force show pistols, machine guns, shotguns and automatic assault rifles have vanished from armories, supply warehouses, Navy warships, firing ranges and other places where they were used, stored or transported. These weapons of war disappeared because of unlocked doors, sleeping troops, a surveillance system that didn’t record, break-ins and other security lapses that, until now, have not been publicly reported.
While AP’s focus was firearms, military explosives also were lost or stolen, including armor-piercing grenades that ended up in an Atlanta backyard.
Weapon theft or loss spanned the military’s global footprint, touching installations from coast to coast, as well as overseas. In Afghanistan, someone cut the padlock on an Army container and stole 65 Beretta M9s – the same type of gun recovered in Albany. The theft went undetected for at least two weeks, when empty pistol boxes were discovered in the compound. The weapons were not recovered.
Even elite units are not immune. A former member of a Marines special operations unit was busted with two stolen guns. A Navy SEAL lost his pistol during a fight in a restaurant in Lebanon.
The US Navy and Marine Corps reportedly track the missing weapons carefully. According to the AP investigation, the Air Force at first claimed there were no records on any missing weapons, but later responded to their FOIA request. The Army had by far the most missing weapons. Is it lax security? The Army generally places younger service members in charge of the armories. Some officials say that the money obtained by selling stolen guns is a temptation.
In November of 2015, James Morales allegedly stole 16 weapons from the Lincoln-Stoddard Army Reserve Armory . The Army attempted to track his cell phone information to see if they could find where he took them. Even though Morales didn’t plan his military gun thefts well, it was still a nightmare for the Service to recover any of them.
Whether it’s one unloaded carbine as Jovan Collazo used to hijack a school bus recently, or 16 weapons from the Massachusetts armory, gun thefts in the military are an issue Congress isn’t likely to ignore.
Congress will likely push some form of accountability because of the Military gun thefts. The notification system for Military gun thefts to Congress reportedly broke down by 2017. Some of the stolen weapons have ended up in the the hands of gangs, and violent felons. Our Armed Forces have literally millions of guns, explosives, and other weapons, and the number of guns stolen is a fraction of those numbers. From the standpoint of public safety, however, this report by the Associated Press will likely cause a bipartisan outcry in Congress.
Featured photo: United States Military Academy Cadets conduct Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills Training during Cadet Summer Training at West Point, N.Y., on Jun. 13, 2021. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Josue Patricio)
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