by The Chicago Times Staff

June 15, 2021

WASHINGTON — An Associated Press investigation found that at least 1,900 U.S. military firearms were lost or stolen during the 2010s, with some resurfacing in violent crimes in the first public accounting of its kind in decades.

Pistols, machine guns, shotguns, and automatic assault rifles have been reported missing from armories, supply warehouses, Navy warships, and other locations, according to government records.  These weapons of war vanished due to security flaws that have gone unnoticed until now, such as sleeping troops and a surveillance system that failed to record.

Before it was recovered, authorities linked a stolen Army pistol from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to four shootings in New York.  A stolen Army pistol was used in a robbery on the streets of Boston.

Theft or loss of weapons occurred all over the military’s global footprint.  Someone cut the padlock on an Army container in Afghanistan and stole 65 Beretta M9s, the same type of gun found in New York.

When empty pistol boxes were discovered in the compound, the war zone theft went undetected for weeks.  The weapons have not been found.

Military weapons are particularly vulnerable to insiders who are in charge of their security.

They know how to take advantage of flaws in armories and the military’s massive supply chains.

They may see an opportunity to make a buck from a military that can afford it, especially from the lower ranks.

Weapons accountability is standard procedure in the military.  When armorers open each day, they are supposed to check weapons.  Whether troops are in the field, on patrol, or in the arms room, sight counts, or a visual total of weapons on hand, are drilled into them.  People have been stealing from armories for as long as there have been armories.