As protests ignite across the nation against the killing of unarmed black men by law enforcement, in Washington D.C. Capitol Police and their security counterparts have a wholly different problem—they keep leaving their weapons places. Like, taking them out of holsters, putting them down for a moment, and then forgetting to pick them back up.
It’s more common that you would think.
In at least three instances so far this year firearms misplaced by the highly trained personnel entrusted with the security of some of our world’s most powerful people were found by other, non-police folks. This week, a janitor came across a Glock pistol—which, unlike other firearms with traditional safety mechanisms, will always discharge when the trigger is pulled—that was sitting out in the open, while he was cleaning up the Capitol building.
In March, a child, who is reportedly only 7 or 8 years old, found another Glock. This one had been left behind by a member of Speaker of the House John Boehner’s security detail in a bathroom. A third Glock was similarly discovered stuffed into the paper toilet seat cover dispenser in a Capitol Visitor Center toilet stall, this time belonging to a part of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s security detail.
But this goes back much further. Law enforcement has a long history of losing guns on the job in this country.
Last year, Fusion reported that 184 state and local departments were cited for missing assault weapons and other items received from a program that passed military surplus on to domestic police. In January, a New Hampshire cop lost a Colt M40 Commando semi automatic rifle when it fell off the trunk of his car while he was driving away.
In Flint, Michigan, things are even more dire—17 guns are missing from the police department there, including a “submachine gun” and a short barreled shotgun. One of the guns was found by a local 15-year-old, who used it in a robbery and then accidently shot himself.
And in Philadelphia, an officer who had previously gotten in trouble for sleeping in his squad car left his weapon sitting on his car and drove off, losing it in a parking lot.
While alarming, or even terrifying, that those who are entrusted with the protection of society keep absent mindedly misplacing their tools of deadly force, there is one upside: It’s a little hard to shoot unarmed black men when you leave your Glock in the crapper.