The United States military has all the weapons that you and I are forbidden from having. I’m not just talking about the fully-automatic or select-fire guns so many of us would love to have in our gun safes, either. I mean, they have missiles and grenades and stuff like that, stuff that you and I just can’t lawfully get.
Unfortunately, the military also has lost track of a number of their weapons over the years.
While I maintain that the numbers aren’t as bad as they’ve been presented as, the truth is that even one missing weapon is an issue.
Now, it seems Congress is getting involved.
Congress is set to force America’s armed services to keep better track of their guns and explosives, imposing new rules in response to an Associated Press investigation that showed firearms stolen from U.S. bases have resurfaced in violent crimes.
Under the proposals, the Department of Defense would tell both lawmakers and civilian law enforcement authorities more about guns that vanish from military armories, shipments and warehouses.
Overall, AP has found that at least 2,000 firearms from the Army, Marines, Navy or Air Force were lost or stolen during the 2010s.
Even as guns kept disappearing, the Department of Defense in recent years stopped advising Congress of most losses or thefts. That was one finding of an investigation which showed how assault rifles, pistols, armor-piercing grenades and other weapons have made their way onto the nation’s streets.
Lawmakers in both the House and Senate responded by writing stricter accountability into each chamber’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act. That bipartisan, must-pass legislation sets policy priorities for the Pentagon.
In coming weeks, lawmakers will hammer out differences between the two defense authorization act versions as the legislation marches toward the president’s desk. For example, the Senate envisions more reporting to the FBI while the House focuses on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
So Congress is going to fix the problem.
Remember, folks, to err is human. To really foul things up, you need Congress involved.
Of course, we can all agree that something needs to be done. The military losing weapons was bad enough, but not admitting to Congress that these were missing actually is a problem. Our military is supposed to have civilian oversight. They answer to a civilian government. Essentially hiding the missing guns doesn’t exactly scream confidence that these are just misplaced items or where improperly documented after being destroyed.
And let’s be honest, if this is indeed a bipartisan thing, that in and of itself should highlight that this is a significant problem.
Frankly, I think the real issue here isn’t that 190 guns per year went missing in some manner in a military counted in the millions plus civilian workers, but that the Department of Defense opted to pretend none of it happened until the AP started digging.
That doesn’t signal that you’re confident you did nothing wrong by any stretch of the imagination.
We’ll see what the final form of this legislation takes, but more oversight of the military is likely the least obtrusive response imaginable, so they should consider themselves fortunate.