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Monday, February 22, 2016

S.F. is Becoming "The City Where Guns Are Lost"

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 12:42 PM

click to enlarge Look what I found! - MIKE KOOZMIN/SF EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/SF Examiner
  • Look what I found!

A young woman is fatally shot in San Francisco in July. An artist is gunned down in September in Oakland.

Aside from lives lost to gun violence, these two deaths have another troubling similarity: the murder weapon used to belong to law enforcement. 

Both the gun used to kill Kathryn Steinle at Pier 14 and Oakland muralist Antonio Ramos had belonged to different federal agents, whose guns were stolen in separate thefts in San Francisco.

And now, yet another g-man has reported that he lost his gun while in the city.

This time the weapon was not stolen, but instead left on the hood of a car as the agent drove away Friday morning in the Ingleside district, according to reports.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent did quickly report the gun stolen, but it’s obviously far too late since it has yet to be recovered. The question now is where that weapon will end up.

Embarrassingly, this appears to be a common occurrence. As SF Weekly reported in December, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — ironically the federal agency that’s supposed to prevent illegal gun trafficking — lost about a dozen firearms annually from 2009 to 2013.

A much older data set, courtesy of the U.S. General Accounting Office from 2003, says 80 percent of the 250 guns lost every year by federal agents are never recovered.

And somehow, the losses continue to mount. Already this year, the FBI reported that three handguns were stolen from an agent’s vehicle in Benicia. And last summer, Berkeley's chief of police had her vehicle burglarized while she was jogging, and lost her badge as well as a loaded weapon with ammunition. 

In July, Kathryn Steinle was killed on Pier 14 in what appeared to be a random and tragic act. The man charged with her killing, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, has said he found the gun near the site of the shooting. It had belonged to a Bureau of Land Management ranger, who said it had been stolen from his vehicle. Sanchez was not charged in that theft, but the undocumented immigrant, who has returned to the United States repeatedly after being deported to Mexico, will stand trial in Steinle's murder. 

The September shooting, in which artist Antonio Ramos was killed while working on a mural in West Oakland, also involved a gun stolen from a federal agent’s vehicle.

As far as the gun lost Friday, San Francisco police say they’re looking for it, which is to say they have no clue where it is or how to get it back.

If the firearm ends up being commissioned in a crime, especially a deadly one, you can be sure this legislation will get a lot of attention in the California Legislature this year.
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