Gun retention is one of the most important parts of responsible gun ownership. If your weapon is taken from you, it may be used against you.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may need a refresher course in gun retention because DHS personnel lost at least 165 firearms and 1,300 badges and credentials between October 2012 and April 2015, according to a report compiled by Complete Colorado.
That breaks down to a little over five firearms and 419 badges and credentials lost or stolen each month.
The biggest offender was the sub-agency Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which lost about half of the missing firearms and 900 of the badges and credentials. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lost 300 badges and credentials and most of the remainder of missing guns, while U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) lost 200 badges. A few more guns were reported stolen or lost by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Thirty-one of the total firearms were classified as lost, and all but two of the rest were listed as stolen. This may be inaccurate, however, as law enforcement officers tend to report firearms as “stolen” instead of “lost”.
Believe it or not, these numbers are an improvement over previous years, as the DHS previously reported 289 firearms lost or stolen in a 2010 report over a similar period of time.
Lost and stolen firearms pose an obvious risk, but losing so many credentials is no laughing matter either. Former Undersecretary of Homeland Security and Director of FEMA Michael Brown said the loss of these badges and credentials is a serious security risk and should spark an investigation by the DHS inspector general.
“Law enforcement credentials, badges or ID cards can be used to access areas closed to the public, restricted access areas, and allow a person to pose as a law enforcement official where lax inspection of the credential to match it with the person carrying it allows that person entry to restricted areas,” Brown stated. “Possession of these kinds of credentials gives terrorists or criminals the basic information needed to counterfeit other credentials.”
“For example,” Brown continued, “a terrorist cell could use these credentials or counterfeited credentials to access public events posing as law enforcement officials, bypassing security measures designed to detect explosives or other contraband.”
Of course, the DHS isn’t the only government agency with its share of security hiccups. Late last year a secret service agent working in the Presidential Protective Division lost his gun, badge, handcuffs, and radio outside of the agency’s headquarters. The items were taken right from his car.
Before that, another Secret Service agent had his gun stolen from his car parked outside of his girlfriend’s condo.
And who could forget the Capitol Police leaving loaded guns lying around in bathrooms for children to find?
The truth is, fortunately, everyday citizens who carry openly or concealed don’t typically leave their guns around to be reported lost or stolen. They know that gun retention, whether standing in line at the grocery store or sitting down on a public toilet, is one of the most important aspects of carrying a firearm.
I think the DHS could learn a thing or two about security from the GunsAmerica readers.
(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Mike Doran.)