Incident reports show dozens of ATF firearms lost, misplaced or stolen

Image credit: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Federal agents have lost or misplaced dozens of service weapons from 2009 through 2013, according to records obtained by a Wisconsin newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act.

One seemingly common occurrence at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to the report: an agent leaving a firearm on the roof of the car as he is entering or exiting the vehicle. Other mishaps included leaving “guns behind in bathroom stalls, at a hospital, outside a movie theater and on a plane,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, adding:

In December 2009, two 6-year-old boys spotted an agent’s loaded ATF Smith & Wesson .357 on a storm sewer grate in Bettendorf, Iowa. The agent lived nearby and later said he couldn’t find his gun for days but didn’t bother reporting it — until it hit the local newspaper.

In Los Angeles in 2011, an agent went out to a bar drinking with other agents and friends, reportedly consuming four alcoholic beverages. The next morning he woke up and realized his ATF-issued Glock was gone. It was not found.

In a particularly egregious example, an undercover ATF agent in Milwaukee had three weapons stolen from a government vehicle while parked at a coffee shop — including a machine gun.

Such thefts occurred during the agency’s error-plagued “Operation Fearless,” a storefront sting that had undercover agents buying weapons at inflated prices so their movements could be tracked through the black market.

The scheme was similar to the infamous “Operation Fast and Furious,” though on a more local level. Fearless and other botched storefront operations will be the subject of a congressional hearing scheduled Thursday.

If Congress is truly concerned about firearm safety, it can start doing something about by requiring that ATF act more responsibly.

Read more about the Journal Sentinel’s findings, including all reports with with the agent’s name redacted, on the newspaper’s website.

Fox News co-host Martha MacCallum discussed the Journal Sentinel’s findings with the Washington Free Beacon’s Ellison Barber. Watch their exchange via Fox News, then check out “CNN finally gets face-to-face showdown with Ted Nugent; he’s armed and ready.”


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