The federal government received a bipartisan bashing Wednesday for losing track of hundreds of guns and grenade launchers that were donated to police departments.
The General Services Administration (GSA) has transferred more than 9,800 firearms to state and local police departments since 1999. But many of these weapons have later turned up for sale at gun stores or been stolen, according to a government watchdog.
Congress is outraged.
“I don’t understand how something so simple can’t be done,” he asked. "We can put a man on the moon and yet we can’t track firearms?”
An inspector’s general report issued in June 2015 found that 485 firearms have gone missing — only 24 have been recovered, while the rest remain on the lose.
During the first hearing on the matter, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle expressed concern.
Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) said it is “appalling” that the federal government would lose track of the firearms.
“This is my concern,” Carter said. “Here we have a federal agency that is only dedicated to registering and controlling firearms. Yet they don’t even know how many they have, they don’t know where they are, and they don’t know who has them.”
The GSA’s Surplus Firearm Donation Program provides weapons that are no longer being used by federal agencies to police departments.
The weapons include not only handguns but also assault rifles, uzis and grenade launchers, according to the report.
Democrats raised concerns about the use of grenade launchers by police departments.
“Can anyone tell me why the Cayce South Carolina Police Department, which polices a city of less than 13,000 people, needed two military-style grenade launchers in the first place?” asked Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.).
“Do you sit around saying, ‘Well, I wonder who could use a grenade launcher?'” Connolly continued. “'What could go wrong with that?' ”
Lawmakers also questioned why the GSA has only appointed one person to oversee the program.
“You have one person designated to manage this program of nearly 10,000 firearms?” asked Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.).
"What did you think was going to happen to these weapons?” asked Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).