Washington, D.C. (October 25, 2021)— Today, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, and Rep. Robin Kelly, sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, and Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall III requesting information on how the Department of Defense (DOD) and military departments are working to improve their ability to keep track of military weapons and equipment to better prevent their loss, theft, and use in violent crimes against American citizens.
“Given the epidemic of gun violence spreading across the United States, which has claimed more than 35,000 lives so far this year, we appreciate that Pentagon leadership is committed to addressing this challenge,” the Members wrote. “Nevertheless, we are concerned that DOD has seemingly not yet developed a coherent strategy to improve its ability to account for military weapons and equipment.”
In June 2021, the Associated Press reported that at least 1,900 military firearms were lost or stolen between 2010 and 2019. In 2018, a pistol reportedly belonging to the U.S. Army was linked to four shootings in Albany, New York. Stolen Army assault rifles were used in a 2016 robbery in Boston. Rifles taken from Fort Irwin in 2011 were recovered in the home of a California gang member in 2019.
The Members also expressed concern about how some military departments, including the Army and Air Force, employ Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to help inventory firearms, even as some cybersecurity experts warn that RFID tags can be detected from significant distances, potentially endangering the safety and security of U.S. military personnel abroad.
The Members requested that DOD and the military departments provide the Committee with a briefing by November 19, 2021, regarding steps being taken to better account for military equipment, firearms, and weapons, and an assessment of the use of RFID technology and its associated risks.
Click here to read the letter.