In a deep investigation, the Associated Press has uncovered that at least 1,900 military weapons have been lost or stolen in the last decade. Many of them ended up being involved in violent crimes. 

In one case, an M9 pistol that was stolen from Ft. Bragg, NC was used in four shootings in New York. More alarming to investigators was that the pistol, which was recovered by police in Albany, NY wasn’t even considered missing until police reached out to the military with the weapon’s serial numbers. 

For Years, the Army and Air Force Did Not Know the Number of Missing Weapons

The Pentagon used to share with members of Congress the number of weapons that were either lost or stolen. Nevertheless, that requirement ended years ago. So, using the Freedom of Information Act requests, the AP reviewed hundreds of military criminal case files or property loss reports of small arms.

A recovered stolen M4 carbine with the serial numbers. (Associated Press)

According to the AP’s report, the Army and Air Force couldn’t even pinpoint the number of weapons that have disappeared in the decade between 2010 and 2019. Furthermore, the Associated Press stated the military is trying to suppress those numbers. 

Army and Marine officials told the AP that weapon accountability is a very high priority. This is something that anyone who has ever served in an airborne unit can attest to. Sometimes weapons break free and are lost during airborne operations. When that happens, all training and movement stop, the entire unit is placed online, and the area is searched until the weapon is found or accounted for. 

However, that doesn’t apply to the criminal act of stealing weapons, which while rare, does happen.

In one case in Massachusetts in November 2015, James Morales, an Army reservist who was suffering from drug and alcohol problems and had just been discharged, broke into his former unit’s weapons vault. 

For some reason, the alarms never went off. He went in and out of the vault nine times and emerged with six M4 carbines and 10 M11 pistols, the military version of the SIG Sauer P228 pistol.