Federal agency that labeled millions of gun owners as "rightwing extremists" criticized for casual loss of firearms

By Chad D. Baus

Agents and officers of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported that 289 of their handguns, shotguns or automatic rifles had been lost or stolen between 2005 and 2008, the agency's inspector general said in a report released last week.

Some of the weapons were left in places such as fast-food restaurant restrooms, bowling alleys and clothing stores.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Most of the losses could have been prevented, Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner said in the report. 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 the 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.

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

Skinner said the Justice Department and the Government Accountability Office, Congress' audit arm, also found similar problems among 18 other federal law-enforcement agencies assessed between 2003 and 2007.

Feeling like the homeland is safer?

Last April, this same Obama administration agency produced a report entitled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment", which made millions of Americans, many of them gun owners, feel as though political dissent was being demonized, if not criminalized.

According to the National Academy of Public Administration, more than 200,000 people are employed by the DHS. Even if every one single DHS employee was issued a firearm (and they're not), that would mean an astounding rate of one lost gun for every 700 DHS employees.

And they say we're a threat to society.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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