A Justice Department inspector general’s report says that at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, ten firearms, including one rifle, were stolen from government vehicles in separate incidents. The agents received four- or five-day suspensions. A neighbor found an ATF gun on top of a vehicle. The agent was suspended for four days. Agents twice lost pistols at restaurants.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives “generally has strong physical controls,” but a report by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General found record-keeping deficiencies, storage shortcomings and just plain sloppiness with guns, the Washington Post reports. The IG’s office l determined that the ATF, responsible for tracking stolen weapons, had “26 instances of lost, stolen, or missing firearms” between fiscal 2014 and 2017. That is not much compared with the organization’s more than 35,500 firearms, stun guns and silencers, but it is disturbing, because one of the stolen guns was later used in a crime. “Our findings are particularly concerning,” Inspector General Michael Horowitz said last week, “because prior audits identified similar issues and recommended corrective action.”
Audits going back 16 years identified ATF “control weaknesses over its ammunition inventories.” Although the ATF’s monthly loss rate for firearms has decreased 55 percent since 2008, it remains slightly higher than in 2002. ATF firearms have vanished under embarrassing circumstances. The report said that ten firearms, including one rifle, were stolen from government vehicles in separate incidents. The agents received four- or five-day suspensions. A neighbor found an ATF gun on top of a vehicle. The responsible agent was suspended for four days. Agents twice lost pistols at restaurants. One officer received a letter of reprimand; the other was suspended for eight days. Ammunition tracking records were understated by almost 31,000 rounds at the 13 sites audited. Given that ATF has over 275 offices, the number of unaccounted ammunition rounds is likely much higher, the report said. Does the ATF know how much ammunition is missing? If all 275 offices have unaccounted materiel at the rate of the 13 audited sites, that would equal more than 650,000 rounds. That’s a lot of bullets.