A report in Tuesday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the number of guns lost by agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gained traction when Fox News picked it up yesterday, and it is reminiscent of an embarrassing incident involving former Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, now the Obama Administration’s drug czar, who lost his own gun to a car prowl several years ago.
When Kerlikowske, who supported gun control legislation in Olympia while in uniform years ago, lost a 9mm Glock from his department car parked on a downtown street, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms offered a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thief. The gun has, to anyone’s knowledge, never turned up.
But compared to the ATF’s problem, Kerlikowske’s stolen gun is small potatoes. The Journal-Sentinel expose revealed that at least 45 guns belonging to ATF agents were reportedly lost or stolen between 2009 and 2013.
These revelations make it hard for the “only cops should have guns” advocates, not to mention those who are now pandering so-called “universal background check” legislation. None of these firearms taken from law enforcement travel through anything remotely resembling legitimate commerce, and thus with each transfer, nobody is going to worry over some legality.
Look at the recent case in Philadelphia where a gun stolen from a police officer was involved in a homicide.
The Charlotte Observer recently reported that police recovered a stolen gun from the home of a Rock Hill, S.C. teen suspected of murder. That gun was reportedly stolen from Lancaster County on the border separating North and South Carolina.
This column reported on a couple of cases involving stolen guns that also were in the hands of people who obviously did not go through a background check.
The Journal-Sentinel revelations are not merely reflective on an agency whose task is to prevent gun trafficking rather than feed it, but on the larger issue of adding more restrictions on law-abiding gun owners ostensibly to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. Of course, Operation Fast and Furious demonstrated how well that has worked out.
If police and federal law enforcement have a problem with their guns falling into the wrong hands, demanding that honest citizens treat one another as potential criminals when they loan, gift or sell firearms to one another may not be a credible solution, so far as gun rights activists are concerned.