Homeland Security lax with own firearms

Washington Post / February 19, 2010

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WASHINGTON - Agents and officers of the Department of Homeland Security reported that 289 of their handguns, shotguns, or automatic rifles had been lost or stolen between 2005 and 2008, with weapons left in places ranging from fast-food restaurant restrooms to bowling alleys and clothing stores, the agency’s inspector general said in a report released yesterday.

Most of the losses could have been prevented, Inspector General Richard Skinner reported.

In one case, his office stated, a border officer left a weapon in his idling vehicle at a convenience store. Both the weapon and the vehicle were stolen.

In another case, a shotgun and semiautomatic rifle were stolen from an officer’s closet at home.

Other agents left firearms in truck beds or on vehicle bumpers, where weapons fell off as they drove away.

“The Department of Homeland Security, through its components, did not adequately safeguard and control its firearms,’’ Skinner concluded in a 23-page report dated Jan. 25.

“Although some reported losses were beyond the officers’ control, most losses occurred because officers did not properly secure firearms,’’ the inspector general concluded.

First reported yesterday by USA Today, the report recommended that the department set tighter rules for storing, transferring, and taking inventory of weapons and for reporting when they are lost.