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house Bill H.R. 1437

Should Homeland Security Issue a Directive on Securing Firearms and Other Sensitive Assets?

Argument in favor

Homeland Security officers lose an average of 69 firearms a year, usually to theft when they’re carelessly secured or left in insecure locations. This is an unacceptable public safety threat and needs to be addressed through a clear DHS firearm security policy.

Frances's Opinion
···
05/13/2019
THE TEXT OF THIS BILL SEEMS TO BE MAKING IT NECESSARY TO CLARIFY THE EXACT NATURE OF THE FIREARMS AND ASSETS AND TO ALSO CLARIFY HOW THESE ITEMS WILL BE STORED SECURELY. SOUNDS GOOD TO ME, AND I'M SURPRISED THERE WAS NO EFFOR T TO BE MORE EXACTING IN DESCRIPTIONS BEFORE NOW.
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Argument opposed

The Department of Homeland Security is already making its own efforts to address the theft and loss of firearms, and the public safety threat posed. This bill isn’t needed in light of those ongoing efforts at DHS.

Chris's Opinion
···
05/14/2019
DHS shouldn't exist. It needs to be completely abolished.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Oversight, Management, and Accountability
      Committee on Homeland Security
    IntroducedFebruary 28th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 1437?

This bill — the Securing DHS Firearms Act of 2019 — would make the Under Secretary for Management at the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) responsible for the security of DHS firearms and other sensitive assets. “Sensitive assets” are defined as any asset, regardless of value, that DHS issues to a DHS employee and that the Under Secretary or a component head determines requires special control and accounting.

The Under Secretary would be responsible for developing and disseminating a directive for achieving adequate security over these assets across DHS, which shall include: 1) descriptions of what equipment is classified as a sensitive asset; 2) requirements for securing such assets; 3) a classification system for all categories of DHS-issued badges and corresponding requirements for safeguarding such assets; and 4) reporting and recordkeeping requirements for lost assets (defined to include loss by theft). The Under Secretary would update this directive within one year, including by adding a requirement relating to recording in the inventory systems maintained by each DHS component the acceptance or transfer of a sensitive asset.

The Under Secretary would also disseminate a revised version of the Personal Property Asset Management Program Manual that includes:

  • Requirements for component heads to develop procedures to safeguard firearms and other sensitive assets during on- and off-duty time;
  • Requirements for the issuance of safety locking devices and policies on the use of such assets;
  • Requirements for training on safeguarding such assets;
  • Instructions for reporting and recording lost sensitive assets and an enforcement mechanism to ensure that supervisors maintain such records; and
  • A requirement that a file on a lost asset contain the DHS report and the corresponding police report.

Under this policy, DHS components would have to:

  • Comply with federal law, executive branch guidance, and DHS policy regarding the management and oversight of securing sensitive assets;
  • Review the need for non-law enforcement badges;
  • Require personnel to comply with requirements for safeguarding sensitive assets and reporting on lost assets; and Require that lost assets are reported to local law enforcement, the National Crime Information Center, and DHS headquarters and recorded in inventory systems in the time frame established by the security directive.

On an ongoing basis, the DHS Inspector General would review this bill’s implementation and report to Congress on the progress and effectiveness of the directive for safeguarding firearms and sensitive assets.

Impact

DHS; CBP; ICE; DHS officers; DHS firearms; sensitive materials in DHS; National Crime Information Center; Personal Property Asset Management Program Manual; and the Under Secretary for Management at DHS.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1437

$0.00
When this bill was introduced in the 115th Congress, the CBO estimated that implementing it wouldn’t significantly affect DHS spending.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Luis Correa (D-CA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to require the development and dissemination of a Dept. of Homeland Security-wide directive on DHS-issued firearms and other sensitive assets. In a letter to his Congressional colleagues seeking cosponsors for this bill in the current Congress, Rep. Correa wrote:

“According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General, DHS officers do not always safeguard or secure DHS-issued firearms and other sensitive assets. In October 2017, the DHS Office of Inspector General found that 2,142 sensitive assets – including 228 firearms and 1,889 badges – were misplaced between fiscal years 2014 and 2016. Most of these losses were due to DHS personnel who did not properly safeguard such sensitive assets. Additionally, officers are not always held accountable for failing to secure their DHS-issued firearm. The Office of Inspector General identified the lack of a Department-wide firearm policy as a major reason why sensitive assets were not secured. In response, the Securing Department of Homeland Security Firearms Act improves the accountability of DHS-issued firearms and other sensitive assets… Due to its mission, DHS has a variety of highly sensitive equipment. Failure to safeguard, control, and manage those assets can have grave consequences for public safety and homeland security. Lost firearms have been recovered by suspected gang members and individuals in possession of cocaine. This measure will foster greater accountability, safety, and security within DHS.”

DHS has already undertaken efforts to improve its firearm security. After the agency realized that most of its gun losses were due to theft from vehicles, it installed gun lockers in all official vehicles and mandated that if a gun is in a vehicle without an officer, it has to be in the locker with the car locked.

This bill has the support of two Democratic cosponsors in the 116th Congress. Last Congress, it passed the House by a voice vote with the support of two bipartisan cosponsors (one Democrat and one Republican), but didn’t receive a Senate committee vote.


Of NoteIn an October 2017 report, the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) reported that from 2014 to 2016, DHS personnel lost 228 firearms, 1,889 badges, and 25 secure immigration stamps. In its report, the DHS OIG revealed that in many cases, firearms became unaccounted for after officers either disregarded policy or used poor judgment. In a 2016 hearing, Jeff Orner, DHS’ chief readiness support officer, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that the agency loses an average of 69 firearms a year, with 75% of those losses due to theft.

In its report, DHS OIG cited a case of two Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers who left their guns unattended in backpacks on a Puerto Rico beach, only to come back and find them gone. In another case, an ICE agent on vacation had his overnight hotel room guest vanish with his belongings, including his badge and gun. In another case, a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer’s gun came up missing after he left his firearm at a friend’s house for two days.

Further, DHS OIG found that in the 65 cases where guns were lost due to poor safeguarding, 22 officers didn’t receive any disciplinary action, and nine received only oral counseling. None of the officers involved in these cases received remedial training after the fact. DHS OIG concluded:

“Without proper disciplinary action and training, officers may misinterpret poor safeguarding as acceptable behavior and these practices will go uncorrected. The Department has a responsibility to oversee the program and take corrective action to ensure compliance with safeguarding requirements.”

DHS OIG recommended that DHS ramp up its property asset management program to provide better training and set guidelines for the use of safety locking devices. It also stressed the need for retraining property custodians on recordkeeping guidelines.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / VallarieE)

AKA

Securing Department of Homeland Security Firearms Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to require the Under Secretary for Management of the Department of Homeland Security to achieve security of sensitive assets among the components of the Department of Homeland Security, and for other purposes.

    The department of homeland security is superfluous to the needs of this country. They need to no longer exist.
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    DHS shouldn't exist. It needs to be completely abolished.
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    Hard to say yes or no when you notice that comments made on both sides of this issue seem to agree that DHS should not exist in the first place. But it has such an authoritarian and paranoid ring to it! Just how do you expect to set up a proper fascist state without a proper security apparatus to make sure we are all safe from whatever this regime thinks is a threat, like a free smarty-pants press, the “enemy of the people.” Now don’t you feel better, Mr. and Mrs. America?
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    How many agencies do we need? Homeland Security, Border Patrol, FBI, CIA, ATF, etc., etc, etc,
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    Isn’t This Protocol ALREADY 🤦🏻‍♀️
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    We should be "securing" their weapons BY CONFISCATING THEM. This miscegenation of an Unconstitutional agency should be burned to the ground and every employee prosecuted for their crimes!
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    You can issue all the directives you want. More directives and threats aren’t going to improve behavior of people who don’t care or get more reward from careless decisions and behavior. DHS has shown itself to be a money pit with no valuable contributions to show. There are better ways if ideological purity wasn’t necessary.
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    The ideal behind this shows why government can not be fully trusted with anything including, money. This should have been in place already and stronger actions taken.
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    The Department of Homeland Security is already making its own efforts to address the theft and loss of firearms, and the public safety threat posed. This bill isn’t needed in light of those ongoing efforts at DHS.
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    THE TEXT OF THIS BILL SEEMS TO BE MAKING IT NECESSARY TO CLARIFY THE EXACT NATURE OF THE FIREARMS AND ASSETS AND TO ALSO CLARIFY HOW THESE ITEMS WILL BE STORED SECURELY. SOUNDS GOOD TO ME, AND I'M SURPRISED THERE WAS NO EFFOR T TO BE MORE EXACTING IN DESCRIPTIONS BEFORE NOW.
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    No DHS is already making its own efforts to address the theft and loss of firearms.
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    Are you sure it’s theft or is it Erik Holder just taking them and giving them to his buddies. The Mexican Drug Cartels
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    This is political attention seeking behavior. The agency can solve the problem.
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