"Thousands" of guns, gun parts stolen from ATF

AP Photo/Morry Gash

The ATF has been up to quite a lot, recently. We’ve outlined a lot of their shenanigans here, though I’m sure there’s plenty we were unaware of. They’re likely to get away with it, at least for the time being, by arguing that it’s their job to make sure guns don’t end up in the wrong hands.

And, to some extent, that’s true.

However, it seems they suck more at their jobs than we thought.

With inflation, prices are up pretty much across the board, but if you’re looking for a new gun for recreation or self-defense, here’s a hint: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is offering them at an absolute steal. Seriously, the federal agency tasked with enforcing firearms regulations has such poor security that thousands of guns and gun parts once in its possession disappeared in the hands of thieves. And it has yet to fully implement recommended reforms.

“Since September 2015, the ATF has utilized the National Disposal Branch (NDB), formerly the National Firearms and Ammunition Destruction (NFAD) Branch, to centralize and streamline the disposal process of forfeited and ATF-owned firearms. Each year, the ATF destroys thousands of firearms at the NDB,” the U.S. Justice Department’s Inspector General noted in announcing a recent report. “The DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) undertook this audit following the discovery that thousands of firearms, firearm parts, and ammunition had been stolen from NFAD from 2016 to 2019.”

So, for three years, the agency that enforces every petty and intrusive federal regulation regarding firearms (as well as alcohol, tobacco, and explosives) let its own security personnel (“a DHS contract security guard was convicted in connection with these thefts”) pilfer its inventory.

Strictly speaking, the report isn’t about the thefts themselves, which were discovered by accident during a traffic stop. The recent report delved into the ATF’s progress in implementing anything resembling the security procedures it requires of the private gun dealers it oversees—or maybe just something more challenging than leaving “intact weapons … in unsecured boxes and unlocked containers.” So, how is the ATF doing at storing firearms at least as securely as you might expect of private businesses?

In short, not particularly well.

Now, let’s understand here that the ATF has been quick to hammer gun stores for every clerical error they can find, shutting down stores now over what would have been a warning at most a year or two back. They expect everyone to get everything perfect and if you don’t, your FFL is in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, they’re leaving guns around in boxes for literally anyone to walk off with.

I’m not a big fan of the ATF, but they exist and our tax dollars pay for them to do a certain job. That job isn’t to harass mom-and-pop gun stores into extinction. It’s to keep guns out of the hands of the bad guys.

Yet by not implementing basic security measures from the start, they’ve facilitated those same bad guys getting guns.

I mean, did they think thieves wouldn’t want to get their hands on seized firearms or something? Did someone honestly not realize this could potentially be a thing?

Now that they know, I’m left wondering why they haven’t already tripped over themselves to implement every necessary security measure possible to try and prevent this kind of thing.

What I do know is that the ATF lost any moral authority it had, not that it had much to begin with.