Coburn calls on Army to upgrade soldiers' guns

“It’s shameful,” Coburn shouted. “Nobody does for our country what the soldier on the front line does. This is a moral question, Mr. Secretary of the Army ... get the riffle competition going now.”

Coburn said he requested that the Army hold a competition to replace the M-4 riffle back in 2007 when he first started hearing complaints from soldiers. The Army has said it is working to find a different gun for soldiers but the competition isn't likely to end until 2014. Coburn said it should be done now.

“Members of Congress do not let this continue to happen,” Coburn said. “We should be ashamed ... what we’re doing is send [soldiers] in with less than the best.”

Coburn said he’s received complaints that the riffles jam. He pointed out that Special Forces are supplied with much better weapons.

“It’s not that we can’t give it to them,” Coburn said, while pointing out that the Army buys better weapons for Special Forces. “It’s that we won’t give it to them — it’s shameful.”

Coburn said the cost of providing a better gun would be $1,500 per soldier, much less than the $8,000 spend per soldier on radios.

“It’s pretty unusual for me to come to the floor and say I want to spend money,” Coburn said. “But I’ve signed numerous letters of condolences to those families who have lost their loved ones.

“When we can spend $8,000 on radios that will be replaced in two years but we can’t give them a $1,500 gun ... our priorities are out of wack,” Coburn said.

With recent Department of Defense cuts and the upcoming sequestration, the Army being able to spend more on guns is unlikely.

— this article was updated at 6:30 p.m.