The Associated Press, or AP, has decided to take a look at stolen military weapons. After all, military firepower in civilian hands is terrifying to most journalists, so they figured they’d take a peek at what’s gone missing.
Unsurprisingly, they published their report and made a big deal of the issue. Unfortunately, they broke it down with a separate report for pretty much every state. Here’s one for my home state of Georgia.
Military weapons including assault rifles and pistols have been lost or stolen from bases in Georgia.
An Associated Press investigation into firearms missing from the U.S. armed services shows at least 37 guns disappeared or were recovered in Georgia between 2010 and 2019.
Locations included Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and Fort Benning, where in 2016 a soldier lost an M4 assault rifle during training. According to an investigative summary obtained by AP, Army criminal investigators reviewed surveillance images and interviewed witnesses but couldn’t locate the missing weapon.
At MCLB Albany, four warehouse workers took lie detector tests after an inoperable M9 pistol went missing. I found that interesting since I used to work across from one of the small arms warehouses many moons ago.
A report from Maryland on the same investigation revealed that around 1,900 weapons were missing nationwide. Of those, more than 1,100 were rifles and just under 700 were pistols. Also missing are rocket launchers, grenade launchers, just under a dozen shotguns, and even a handful of mortars.
There are two takeaways I have from this report, though. The first is that no amount of gun control that will stop criminals from getting guns. At worst, they’ll steal them from the military, only then they can get stuff no civilian could have legally gotten their hands on. After all, those rifles aren’t AR-15s. They might look it, but they have full-auto capability, which the AR from your local gun store doesn’t have.
The other is the framing of this.
While it’s never good to know that the military has lost weapons, let’s put this into perspective. This is 1,900 weapons over a 10-year span. That’s 190 weapons per year throughout the entire armed forces. With just under 1.4 million active-duty service members and almost 850,000 reserve members, to lose just 190 weapons per year isn’t really all that bad. Add in the number of civilian workers dealing with these weapons and it’s a miracle thousands aren’t lost each year.
Further, while we know some of these weapons have turned up at crime scenes or been recovered by law enforcement, a number of them may well be misplaced.
To be clear, the ideal number of missing military weapons is zero. However, humans are involved, which means that’s not likely to ever be the case. Even if everyone is completely trustworthy, they’ll still lose something or misplace something from time to time. Since you can’t make absolutely certain everyone is trustworthy, you’re going to see even more loss.
What the AP did, however, was to try to frame the losses as some massive epidemic, a scandal that the military can’t keep up with their weapons, which that really isn’t the case.
Yet again, if that were the case, it would be another data point proving just how useless gun control really is.