Stolen, missing military weapons addressed by legislation from Rep. Crow

‘Thousands’ of military weapons have gone missing, congressman says

By: - September 13, 2021 11:44 am

A U.S. Marine with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force-Darwin, fires his weapon during squad attacks at Kangaroo Flats Training Area, Northern Territory, Australia, July 25, 2019. (Staff Sgt. Jordan Gilbert/U.S. Marine Corps photo/Public domain)

Prompted by an investigation that found almost 2,000 military weapons have gone missing, a Colorado representative has introduced legislation aimed to address the problem. 

Democratic Rep. Jason Crow, of Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, and Florida Republican Rep. Scott Franklin, introduced a bipartisan bill on Sept. 1 to address missing, lost, and stolen military weapons. The Transparency in Reporting for an Accurate Count of Combat Equipment Act, or TRACCE, requires the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to report on the missing, lost, or stolen weapons for each year on an annual basis. 

There have been reports of stolen military weapons being used in shootings, robberies, and gang activity, according to a Sept. 1 press release

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“American streets and neighborhoods are no place for military-grade weapons,” Crow said in the press release. “Ensuring that the Department of Defense is tracking lost and stolen weapons is a matter of public safety. The TRACCE Act is a first step in accountability to track military weapons, ammunition, and explosives so we can ensure they’re not used to harm American citizens.”

“By accounting for missing weapons and equipment, this bill will not only ensure military officials are acting as good stewards, but also prevent our military resources from falling into the wrong hands,” Franklin said in the Sept. 1 press release. 

The legislation amends a previous bill that required reporting stolen or missing weapons to the Treasury secretary by adding an additional reporting requirement to the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The new legislation also requires that the Treasury secretary report “all instances of missing, lost, or stolen weapons, large amounts of ammunition, destructive devices, or explosive material from the stocks of the Department of Defense,” each year in an annual report, according to the bill.

The report must include the type, quantity, and serial number, along with the armed force it belongs to, for each of these instances, and it must be submitted to the congressional defense committees by Dec. 31 of each year. The previous legislation regarding the reporting of stolen and missing military weapons went into effect in 1988. 

A slide form Rep. Jason Crow’s office that states statistics on missing military firearms. (Screenshot)

“Our community is no place for military-style weapons,” Crow tweeted on Sept. 1. “That’s why @RepFranklin and I are leading the TRACCE Act — a first step in accountability to track lost and stolen military weapons, ammunition, and explosives.” 

The legislation follows reporting done by the Associated Press on thousands of lost and stolen military weapons, said Kaylin Dines, the communications director for Crow.

“The health and safety of people around our community are impacted by this,” Dines said, referring to the report of thousands of missing and stolen weapons. 

“You’ll see from the AP’s reporting on this topic that the military was not super forthcoming about this issue, and this is a first step that we are taking, to get a better sense of which military weapons are missing and why, so that we can curb the issue,” said Dines.

This is not about politics. This is about ensuring that the American people are safe, particularly the folks in Colorado’s Sixth District.

– Kaylin Dines, spokesperson for Rep. Jason Crow

“The most important thing to realize is that when you’re talking about a public safety issue like this, that is not political,” said Dines, when asked about the act being a bipartisan piece of legislation. “I believe that is Congressman Crow’s main motivation when he’s looking for an opportunity to cross party lines, specifically for this issue, but many other issues that we work on, is that this is not about politics. This is about ensuring that the American people are safe, and specifically the folks in Colorado’s Sixth District.” 

“If this is an ongoing issue, then it is something we need to address, and that goes beyond political lines.”

“I am grateful to co-sponsor this bipartisan solution with @RepJasonCrow requiring the Pentagon to account for missing military equipment,” Franklin tweeted on Sept. 2. “If passed, this common sense bill could help prevent military equipment from falling into the wrong hands.” 

Not publicly reported

According to the Associated Press, there were 1,179 U.S. military rifles missing between 2010 and 2019. There were 694 military handguns missing in the same period, and 74 missing military machine guns. 

Reporting done by the Associated Press found that “at least 1,900 U.S. military firearms were lost or stolen during the 2010s” and that civilians later used some of the missing weapons while committing crimes. 

In its investigation into stolen or missing military weapons, the Associated Press reported that government records show “pistols, machine guns, shotguns and automatic assault rifles have vanished from armories, supply warehouses, Navy warships, firing ranges and other places where they were used, stored or transported. These weapons of war disappeared because of unlocked doors, sleeping troops, a surveillance system that didn’t record, break-ins and other security lapses that, until now, have not been publicly reported.” 

The act was introduced as part of the part of the National Defense Authorization Act on Sept. 1. 

Crow — who represents Aurora, Brighton, Centennial and Littleton— and Franklin are both members of the House Armed Services Committee, a standing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. The committee has jurisdiction over the Department of Defense, including its funding and U.S. military operations. The House Committee on Armed Services is chaired by Washington Rep. Adam Smith, and has a total of 59 members. Democrats have the majority on the committee. Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn is also a member of the committee.

Both Crow and Franklin are former service members. Franklin, a Republican, represents Florida’s 15th Congressional District, which includes Lakeland, Brandon, and Clermont. 

Crow voted in favor of passing the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House Armed Services Committee by a vote of 57-2. The TRACCE Act passed along with 13 other “Crow-led amendments,” according to a Sept. 2 press release from Crow’s office.

The NDAA also authorizes a 2.7% pay increase for service members. Other Crow-led amendments included in the Fiscal Year 2022 NDAA include the Space National Guard Establishment Act, which Crow co-led with Colorado Springs-based Lamborn, the Havana Syndrome Service Member Support Act, and the Realizing Efforts for Military Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Act. The REMEDI Act will update current diversity training requirements in the military to include discrimination based on race, sex, sexual orientation, and religion. If passed, the REMEDI Act will be the first time in over 20 years that the Department of Defense “codified” requirements for diversity training. Because the NDAA passed in the House Armed Services Committee, it will now be considered in front of the full U.S. House of Representatives. If the House of Representatives passes the NDAA, it will go to the Senate for a vote.

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