Hey, dude, where’s my gun?

At some time the title phrase must have crossed the mind, if not the lips, of a Secret Service slacker who did his or her business in the restroom on presidential candidate Mitt romney’s chartered Campaign jet –and departed, leaving his or her gun behind.

The weapon, presumably left behind in the bathroom by accident, was discovered by a CBS News/National Journal reporter, who alerted a flight attendant about the gun. A member of the Secret Service on board the plane was informed and retrieved the gun.Romney has traveled with Secret Service protection since early February and has an armed detail assigned to him at all times. His wife, Ann, was just assigned her own detail – albeit a smaller one – last Friday.

via Secret Service gun inadvertently left in Romney plane lavatory – Political Hotsheet – CBS News.

The exact make and model of the pistol abandoned by the careless special agent is unknown; the CBS reporter wasn’t able to ID it beyond “black and scary.” The Secret Service once used Smith and Wesson .357 revolvers, but adopted SIG 226 (9mm) and later 229 (.357 SIG) pistols in the 1990s, and have been reported by credible sources, but not direct from the Secret Service anywhere we can find, to also use the FN FiveSeveN pistol and P90 PDW in the low-intermediate 5.7 x 28mm caliber. Currently, they are in the throes of exchanging the 229s for the 229 DAK variant, a less accurate double-action-only version of the pistol that is beloved by police managers with little confidence in their officers’ gun-handling, and no interest in training their way out of the problem.

Secret Service agents receive much more extensive firearms training than other Special Agents, at an add-on course after their basic Criminal Investigator training, but that hasn’t translated into a superior safety record. In April, 2007, a couple agents clowning around with guns at the White House wound up hospitalized when one of them had a negligent discharge. There were no lasting, career consequences to either agent.

in a well-run organization (for example, in a Tier 1 special-operations unit), these would be firing offenses, and in any organization, negligent discharges or loss of weapon should  be dismissal-for-cause offenses. But the Secret Service, just like all the other federal agencies, does not take gun safety or accountability seriously. The 2007 negligent shooter wasn’t fired, and the SS has already closed ranks around the individual, reportedly a supervisor, who abandoned a sidearm in the charter jet crapper:

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told CBS News/National Journal in a statement: “We are aware of the incident. We take the care and custody of our equipment, especially firearms, very seriously. We will deal with this matter internally and in an appropriate manner.”

Note: 1. they haven’t named the irresponsible agent; 2. they haven’t fired the irresponsible agent; 3. Donovan has issued a bunch of empty platitudes (“we take…[this] very seriously”) while 4. actually stonewalling the media. The agency’s action, or more accurately, inaction, contrasts sharply with Donovan’s empty words, and illustrates why newsmen come to distrust such official spokesmen. (In Donovan’s defense, he probably has been stonewalled himself and all he can do is sling platitudes and lie about the Service taking it seriously). The person in question will be removed from the Romney detail, a temporary awshit will go in his (her?) file, and if the person in question is a favorite of management, another plum assignment will be coming after a “decent interval.”

The Romney detail is reportedly not a happy place inside the US Secret Service, in part because agents and support personnel are being debriefed by polirical appointees for nuggets of information useful to the Obama campaign, driving a wedge of distrust between the detail agents and Romney’s staff. This latest bonehead stunt, and the Service’s failure to make an example of the miscreant, won’t help.

This certainly casts a new light on the Secret Service insisting on disarming local police and US military personnel in the presence of the New Nobility that they protect from the peasantry.

7 thoughts on “Hey, dude, where’s my gun?

  1. Medic09

    The most dumbass infantry soldier knows that Rule No. 1 in life is, ‘you and your weapon must NEVER be separated, upon pain of death (sometimes literally).’ All subsequent rules are subsequent. How hard is that? Gomer Pyle got it, I’m sure. It doesn’t take Special Ops brains to get it, and stick to it.

    “No weapon? No problem. You are now useless, therefore redundant, therefore fired.” It’s that simple. I can only think that the civilian agency people don’t take this life-or-death thing seriously. They don’t think of themselves as first and last trigger-pullers. Yet, in the end that is their only critical job. The taxpayers should be furious, as should the subjects to be protected. This SHOULD require a new career move for the agent.

  2. Alan Wise

    I respectfully disagree with Medi09. The “only critical job” of a SS Special Agent is to protect the principle. This seldom has anything to do with a weapon actually. It is shielding and movement of the principle to a safe location. When in history has a Secret Service Agent EVER discharged his weapon in the line of duty? JFK? No. Ford? No. Reagan? No. Bush? No.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Truman! (Although it wasn’t primarily plainclothes agents, it was uniformed white house police, now the USSS uniformed division).

        1. Hognose Post author

          Stephen Hunter co-wrote a book on the shootout that’s a good read. His sniper books are good novels, but while he’s usually accurate (no pun intended) talking about guns or ballistics, he’s all wet on the military and war.

          I believe the nonfiction book is called American Gunfight.

          ISTR that Carter pardoned the surviving shooter, or perhaps commuted his sentence.

  3. Medic09

    I concede Mr. Wise’s point. My intent was to say that if it all came down to the bottom line, the Secret Service agent must be able to protect the principal by deadly force. Even loss of their own life isn’t the best solution, since it may still leave the aggressor active. The most critical action they can take is to stop an attack with deadly force. Without their weapon, that isn’t going to happen.

    As far as ‘when in history…’. There is a saying in the Talmud, ‘לא שמענו אינו ראיה – we have yet to see, is no proof of the negative’. According to Mr. Wise’s argument, the agents don’t need guns at all, because they have yet to confront a situation where a gun would do them any good. I say again, when all else has failed to protect the principal, they had better have their weapons at hand and know how to use them. They are issued weapons in recognition of that reality.

  4. Alan Wise

    You are quite correct, Medic09, that weapons are an important part of their duty. And I certainly recognize your main point that anyone in the public trust whom is issued a weapon should at the very least handle that weapon in a safe and responsible manner. Retaining it would seemingly be the least of that trust.

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