Government officials are awfully concerned about how we mere private citizens manage our firearms. Connecticut recently tightened already stringent rules about gun storage, and politicians are full of ideas about trigger locks, documentation, and who can touch your guns and for how long without committing a felony. But when it comes to keeping track of their own things-that-go-bang, jut how do government officials stack up? Pretty goddamned piss poor, it turns out.
Responding to an anonymous tip saying that some of the U.S. Park Police's military-style weapons had gone missing, the Office Inspector General for the Department of the Interior recently took a look at how savvy the agency is about keeping an eye on its guns, and issued a report that amounts to a collective, "holy shit!" Inventoried guns are missing, guns were stumbled over that aren't in the inventory, and there's a long-term lack of effort to account for the sorts of devices that send the likes of Dianne Feinstein and Charles Schumer into hissy fits.
U.S. Park Police couldn't account for hundreds of weapons in its inventory, according to a new Inspector General report, which found that the agency's firearms could be vulnerable to "theft or misuse."
Investigating an anonymous tip alleging the USPP couldn't account for military-style rifles and its weapons program, the Interior Department's inspector general made unannounced visits to weapons storage facilities in Washington, D.C., New York, California and Georgia, according to the report released Thursday.
The investigation found approximately 1,400 weapons, including handguns, rifles and shotguns, that weren't listed in inventories.
In one instance, the IG report says, an officer working President Barack Obama's January Inauguration kept a semiautomatic rifle and stored it at home without permission.
In another example, the IG found 198 weapons at the USPP's Anacostia facility that had come from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives that were never marked in an inventory and were supposed to be destroyed or taken apart.
The inspector general said it found problems in 2009, and despite internal memos in 2009 and 2011, problems continued.
The actual report, Review of U.S. Park Police Weapons Accountability Program (PDF), is, if anything, harsher than the Politico writeup suggests. How bad was the mess with the park cops? Among other things, the OIG found records-keeping so bad, it was impossible to figure out how many guns were missing, even as they discovered hundreds of firearms that had no official existence. All of this on a force that has 640 sworn officers.
Problems were so widespread that "[a]fter detecting the accountability and systemic management and oversight failure of the firearms inventory OIG discontinued its efforts to prove or disprove the allegations and altered our plan of action by reviewing USPP firearms management."
Ultimately, said the report, pointing to the office's past attempts to convince the Park Police to stop leaving guns in the shitter and taking them home as souvenirs:
This report further underscores the decade-long theme of inaction and indifference of USPP leadership and management at all levels. Basic tenets of property management and supervisory oversight are missing in their simplest forms. Commanders, up to and including the Chief of Police, have a lackadaisical attitude toward firearms management. Historical evidence indicates that this indifference is a product of years of inattention to administrative detail and management principles.
But, remember, only law enforcememt officers are professional enough to handle such weapons.
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