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June 18, 2021

The Pentagon is looking at how to prevent weapons from being taken from bases to the streets after a bombshell report found almost 2,000 guns have been lost or stolen over the past decade, some of which were used to commit violent crimes.

 

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley was “shocked” by an Associated Press investigation that found at least 1,900 firearms have been lost or stolen from the military in the past 10 years, he told lawmakers Thursday at a hearing held by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senators like Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) expressed concern over the report, especially an anecdote about gang members in her home state purchasing stolen automatic assault rifles, and pressed Milley for a solution.

 

In response to the AP report, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) requested the Department of the Defense review safety policies regarding military weapons in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin this week, adding he would pursue a mandatory reporting requirement when Congress drafts the new defense budget in the coming months.

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) told AP they would look into the issue of the missing weapons and how to prevent more from going missing.

The vast majority of weapons the AP documented had gone missing were rifles and handguns, though dozens of machine guns, rocket and grenade launchers have also been reported lost. Milley told Feinstein Thursday the military’s initial findings indicate the figure of missing weapons is “significantly less” than the AP reported, though according to the news agency, the number of misplaced weapons they found evidence for is “a certain undercount.” Military officials assert that missing firearms do not appear to be a widespread problem, and account for a miniscule fraction of U.S. military weapons. AP has been investigating the issue of missing weapons since 2011.