The Department of Homeland Security is reportedly stripping U.S. Border Patrol agents of a significant part of their person protection — their M4 carbines.
“There’s a lot of agents that are pretty upset over it,” Art del Cueto, president of the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector union told KVOA News 4 Tucson. “We know it’s a dangerous job. We know what we signed on for but we want to have as much of the equipment as we need to perform the job.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Offices of Border Patrol and Training and Development began a nationwide weapons inspection program, targeting agents’ M4 carbines. But DHS has neglected to replace some of those weapons that have been removed, and agents are understandably concerned, according to News 4 Tucson, which reported:
The M4 carbine is used by the U.S. military and by Border Patrol agents. It’s even used by the Border Patrol’s tactical unit, BORTAC. Agent Brian Terry was carrying the M4 when he was shot and killed in December 2010.
The situation now requires agents to use pooled weapons rather than personal ones.
“The problem is they are now pool guns so what happens is instead of having their individual ones they have sighted in, they’re having to use a pool weapon that you don’t know who used it before you,” del Cueto told the station.
Customs and Border Protection released this statement in response to questions by KVOA:
CBP’s Offices of Border Patrol and Training and Development are jointly inspecting the serviceability of M4 carbines throughout Border Patrol Sectors nationwide. Some of (the) inspected M4 carbines were deemed unserviceable and removed from inventory to alleviate safety concerns. Inspections will continue to ensure the unserviceable M4 carbines are repaired or replaced for reintroduction into the field.
The agency refused to respond to follow-up questions, stating only that “No further information is available at this time.”
The fact that the stripped weapons have yet to be replaced concerns other law enforcement officers along the border.
“This is a concern for the officers and for the community as well,” Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said. “We want to make sure that they have all the equipment that they need to be able to provide the safest environment we possibly can.”
The fact that some of the weapons have been removed for easily-replaceable items such as firing pins and bolts leads former drug enforcement agent Jeff Prather to speculate that the DHS’s actions may be politically motivated.
“This weapon is designed to be able to be in a battle situation, changed out rather quickly even so fast that modern weapons have areas to hold spare bolts,” he told the station while field stripping the rifle.
Watch the KVOA News 4 Tucson report.