Monday, September 25, 2023

Philadelphia Sheriff's Department Misplaces 185 Firearms, 76 of Which Were Service Weapons

Over 185 firearms, inclusive of 76 service weapons, have been reported missing by the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Department, reveals a report from the Philadelphia Controller’s Office. The results, emerging from a three-year probe, originally identified 101 missing service firearms.

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Philadelphia, known for its stringent anti-gun stance within Pennsylvania, has city leaders who frequently enact anti-gun regulations and have pursued legal actions against firearm part manufacturers like Polymer80 and JSD Supply. The disappearance of such a significant number of firearms in such a city has therefore sparked numerous questions.

Breaking down the missing service weapons, 71 were identified as handguns and five as shotguns. Despite these numbers, the Sheriff’s Office insists that apart from 20 items, all service weapons were disposed of correctly.

However, the Controller’s Office, following an extensive subsequent investigation, could find no concrete evidence or documentation to verify this claim, leaving the status of most guns still categorized as missing. The Sheriff’s Department maintains that several firearms were handed over to retired officers and ex-staff members, including former Sheriff John Green. The department has failed to provide any evidence of formal firearm transfers or mandatory background checks through a federal firearms licensee (FFL) or National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

The Controller’s Office has made explicit demands for the return of all firearms received from the Department or proof of their disposal. Any failure or refusal to comply should lead to the inclusion of the involved employees in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) as missing.

The rest of the unaccounted firearms are part of the Protection From Abuse (PFA) inventory—firearms seized from individuals with restraining orders against them. The status or whereabouts of these weapons remain unaddressed and unexplained by the Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff Rochelle Bilal contends that the findings of the Controller’s Office are misrepresented. She attributes the missing duty firearms to discrepancies in “recordkeeping,” criticizing the Controller’s Office for their extended interval between audits, the last of which occurred a decade ago. Bilal argued that regular audits in the past could have prevented such discrepancies and presumptions of missing firearms. The Sheriff’s Department directed inquiries regarding the lost firearms to a recent press conference, maintaining that the alleged inconsistencies are due to past recordkeeping issues.

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