Opinion

US Park Police lost over 1,400 weapons

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In a blistering report, the Office of the Inspector General accused the U.S. Park Service of losing track of an enormous supply of weapons of every type — including machine guns.

The agency first became aware of the problem when it received an anonymous complaint that led to “simultaneous, unannounced inspections of unassigned weapons at US [Park Police] facilities,” according to an Office of the Inspector General press release accompanying its report.

“We discovered hundreds of handguns, rifles, and shotguns not accounted for on the official USPP inventory,” the press release said. “As recently as April 2013, two automatic rifles were discovered during a firearms search for which USPP had no prior knowledge.”

According to The Washington Post:

Investigators found 1,400 guns that were supposed to have been destroyed or melted down. An additional 198 handguns donated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are sitting in a building in Anacostia but don’t show up in official records.

“Basic tenets of property management and supervisory oversight are missing in their simplest forms,” Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall wrote to National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis and U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers. “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.”

In some instances, officers never returned weapons after having checked them out, presumably retaining them for their personal use. In one instance, a semi-automatic rifle was kept after use during the president’s inauguration in January. In another, a chief retained his department-issued sidearm after he retired — for 10 years.

Considering the Justice Department’s Operation Fast and Furious and now the U.S. Park Service’s lackadaisical record keeping, it’s apparent that the federal government does a poor job of keeping track of weapons that are supposed to be within its own purview. Yet it wants to keep track of ours through a federal gun registry?

With the inspector general’s discovery of lavish General Service Administration conferences in Las Vegas, its disclosures of wrongdoing at the Internal Revenue Service and now this, the agency is fast becoming my favorite in government.

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