AP Report Claims U.S. Military is Missing over 1,900 Guns

An Associated Press report claims that over 1,900 small arms have walked off military bases in the past decade or so. (Photo: USAF/Staff Sgt. Angelita M. Lawrence)

According to an AP report, the U.S. Armed Forces is missing guns. While every military around the world is going to have to deal with property theft in addition to losses and attrition, it’s possible that the Armed Forces has been underreporting the number of small arms that have gone missing over the years.

In collecting public records and seeking out documents for release using the Freedom of Information Act, the AP estimates that at least 1,900 firearms have walked off military bases across the U.S. and abroad, although military reports put that number at a much lower 230 guns. Their documentation spans the bulk of the 2010s and their investigation started in 2011.

Army officials dispute the claims, stating that the records they obtained may include duplicate reports, does not account for combat losses or recoveries, and includes data from criminal investigations and incident reports. So while the number may be greater than a couple hundred, it may also fall short of 1,900 as well.

According to one internal report by the Army’s Office of the Provost Marshal General, the Army thought as many as 1,303 weapons went missing between 2013 and 2019, and that’s just one branch of the military. The AP maintains that even their estimates are on the low side and the total number of lost guns could be much higher than 1,900.

“We have a very large inventory of several million of these weapons,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. “We take this very seriously and we think we do a very good job. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t losses. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t mistakes made.”

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The investigators obtained records from the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines showing rifles, shotguns, pistols, and explosives unaccounted for. The documents listed theft as the largest suspected cause of lost inventory. “Though the numbers are small, one is too many,” said Kirby.

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said she would be open to new oversight over weapons accountability at a hearing, following the report. According to some estimates, the Armed Forces owns around 4.5 million small arms.

The AP reports that at least eight of the lost or stolen guns have been linked to civilian crimes or shootings.

While the military likely has security concerns when it comes to reporting lost or stolen weapons, the AP’s findings are coming out at the same time many politicians are calling for laws to require ordinary citizens to report lost or stolen firearms. Failure to do so could result in criminal charges, per the legislation.

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About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. Like Thomas Paine, he’s a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Walleye June 21, 2021, 1:18 am

    Has anybody from Eric Holder’s DOJ ever been prosecuted for sending arms across the border to Mexican drug lords to be used to kill U.S. Border agents?

  • paul I'll call you what I want/ 1st Amendment June 19, 2021, 11:38 am

    Are they referring to all the hardware and ordinance that obama left in iraq when he downsized????

  • Marc Kappel June 18, 2021, 12:01 pm

    It’s so comforting to know that the Government is protecting us from illegal weapons trafficking caused by….THE GOVERNMENT.

  • David F. Tidwell June 18, 2021, 11:21 am

    It doesn’t worry me about some 1900 M16’S being lost on the battle field how many have been lost in the law enforcement agency’s I bet more have been stolen there than any of the military’s branches. But this doesn’t bother me but this does bother me and they never mention this. Who has 6 thermal nuclear weapons they can not account for, and how many are they not talking about and how about all the PLUTONIUM IS MISSING, BUT THE GOVERNMENT SAYS NOTHING, what about hand held rocket launchers, bombs and powder and detonators . there worried about a Rifle that shoots a very small 5.56 mmx 45mm round. Worry about polluting our drinking water with your nuclear waste. I’m more worried about not having safe drinking water than i am being shot by one of these missing firearms are any AR-15 in the USA And I am damn sure worried about some lame brain government official starting a nuclear war over nothing like all other wars have been about, but now they want to start a war with its on people calling them the terroist. One thing we are not short on in this country is stupidity plenty of that.

  • Zupglick June 18, 2021, 9:52 am

    Truckloads have gone missing in the US alone. I call BS on that 1900 number.

  • survivor50 June 18, 2021, 9:33 am

    ” 1,900 firearms have walked off military bases across the U.S. and abroad ” …

    As an OLD ARMY ARMORER… I can assure you this would be ABROAD rather than in the US …

    Someone’s ASTERISK would be in a sling !!! There are these nasty little things called ” INVENTORIES ” … and YOU have the keys to the Armory… The IG would be VERY INTERESTED …

  • Carl F Schnackel June 18, 2021, 8:28 am

    When you’re under fire and someone gets hit and goes down, it’s not unusual to deal with the person, not the weapon. When you’re running and fighting for your life, you don’t care about the weapon of a fallen comrade. It’s just more weight to carry when you just can’t carry it. We’ve been in this current war for about 20 years now. I don’t see 1900 weapons as an unusually large amount, especially when Obama and his AG Eric Holder sold a bunch of them to the Mexican drug cartels in their “Fast and Furious” scandal. Holder was held in “contempt of congress” because he flat refused to turn over any paperwork on this scandal to congress. And they impeached Trump over a phone call that was the complete opposite of what the democrats said it was? Just one more example of the two-tiered justice system.

  • Clark Kent June 17, 2021, 2:46 pm

    Sorry, but firearm thefts involving ANY amount of firearms stolen from ANY organization is NOTHING to ‘brag about’, period, end of story.

  • James lagasse June 17, 2021, 10:42 am

    Only around 1900 guns missing? With a military the size of ours involved in several conflicts I would say that is a record to brag about. Not saying they should not strive to reduce the losses, but let’s realize just how many guns they have to keep track of. Every organization has corruption (just look at congress) but what is the percentage of guns missing. I would bet Congress loses that much in money hourly if not by the minute.

  • Mark N. June 17, 2021, 12:20 am

    There was a report in the local paper today about guns stolen in SoCal by the men tasked with guarding them, at least one of whom was a gang member. The really strange part was that the stolen firearms were several hundred AK74s.

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