FBI agents carelessly left their guns in public bathrooms, hotel rooms, and even a prison, resulting in 45 firearms being lost or stolen over a three-year period, the Justice Department’s inspector general said Tuesday.
In the majority of cases, the weapons were not recovered and one gun was used in a robbery, according to the inspector general’s review of 15 FBI sites from September 2016 to July 2019.
The FBI suspended 38 agents for losing their weapons with the longest penalty running 60 days. Most agents were suspended for about three days, although punishments varied.
One agent was fired after a pistol was stolen from a hotel room.
The stolen guns were a mix of firearms, including Glock pistols, other handguns, submachine guns and carbine rifles.
The bureau’s method for tracking lost or stolen guns is insufficient, hampering recovery efforts, the inspector general concluded.
The report said the FBI did maintain records, including make model and serial number, for eight of the 45 lost or stolen firearms, even though policy requires firearms instructors to detail such information.
“The fact that the FBI was unable to provide this information indicates the policy is not being properly followed,” Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz wrote in the report.
In the majority of cases, the guns were stolen from government vehicles, but other mishaps lead to the disappearance of guns.
At least three weapons were left in bathrooms by agents, another was left behind in a hotel room, and one agent even misplaced a firearm in a prison facility, the report said.
One agent’s gun was stolen by a family member, resulting in a three-day suspension, according to the report.
A carbine rifle stolen from a government vehicle was used in a robbery. The agent received a three-day suspension, Mr. Horowitz wrote.
Despite the unaccounted firearms, the inspector general said the FBI has improved its weapons tracking over the past decade. The number of missing weapons has decreased by about 70% from a similar study in 2007.
Still, the inspector general said that wasn’t good enough.
“While the FBI has substantially reduced the rate of lost and stolen firearms since our prior audits, it must continuously work toward reducing this rate,” he wrote.
In a written response included in the inspector general’s report, the FBI said it concurred with recommendations to improve its documentation of lost and stolen firearms and ensure that all weapons are fully recovered.
The inspector general report is the latest hit for the FBI, which has had its credibility questioned through a series of blunders and accusations of political bias.
Earlier this month, the inspector general said the FBI missed opportunities to stop domestic terror attacks that killed Americans because they failed to conduct follow-up investigations of suspected violent extremists.
It is also still reeling from a bombshell inspector general report released last year concluding the bureau bungled surveillance warrants for Trump campaign figure Carter Page by failing to disclose exculpatory evidence and doctoring key evidence. Mr. Page was never charged with a crime.