A new investigation has shown that lost or stolen US military weapons were reaching America’s streets.
The investigation by “the Associated Press finds that over the past decade, the US military has lost track of hundreds, if not thousands, of grenades, rockets and other pieces of explosive material,” WBUR reported on Tuesday.
“Those weapons ended up in the hands of criminals, high school students, and in one case, service members with some extreme political views,” the radio station added.
“Our investigation found that a lot of these guns, explosives were being tracked all the way up to the Pentagon. The Pentagon did not have a clear understanding of how many guns went missing, how many explosives went missing each year,” Associated Press reporter Kristin Hall, who has spent years investigating the matter, told WBUR.
When asked if there is a tracking system, Hall said, “there are ways that they track them, but if you have somebody that is familiar with, maybe, the paper records that have to be filled out, or they know they can just say that they blew up something on a training field and actually take it home with them, there is just not a lot of oversight in this area.”
The number of missing, lost or stolen firearms was at least 2,000 from 2010 through this summer, the AP reported, citing the military’s own data, internal memoranda, criminal investigation case files and other sources.
Congress will henceforth require more accountability from the Pentagon, which itself has announced is overhauling how it keeps track of its guns and explosives.
The Pentagon will now have to give lawmakers a report annually on weapons loss and security under the National Defense Authorization Act, which Congress approved this month and President Joe Biden is expected to sign.
“Clearly the accountability on this issue was stopping at too low of a level,” said US Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colorado, a US Army veteran and member of the House Armed Services Committee who supported the reforms.
With the new requirements, “if there are hundreds of missing weapons in that report, members of Congress are going to see it and they are going to be asked about it publicly and held accountable for it.”