Border Patrol Stripping Agents of Rifles

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By Michael W. Cutler

Mike is a Senior Fellow with CAPS and retired INS Senior Special Agent. During his 30-year career with the INS he rotated through all of the squads within the Investigations Branch. He was assigned to the Unified Intelligence Division of the DEA and for 10 years was assigned, as an INS Senior Special Agent, to the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force. He has testified at numerous hearings conducted by committees and subcommittees of the House and Senate and provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission.

He hosts "The Michael Cutler Hour" on USA Talk Radio Fridays at 7 p.m. (EST) and is frequently interviewed by broadcast media on various aspects of immigration issues, especially the nexus to national security.

The writer's views are his own.

November 25, 2014

On November 9, television station News 4 KVOA in Tucson, Arizona, reported that some Border Patrol Agents assigned to the Tucson Sector had their M4 Carbines taken from them, purportedly to carry out a “safety inspection” of the weapons, but that the weapons have neither been returned nor replaced.

The consequence of this action is that agents are now sharing rifles. This means that the custom settings for the weapons, such as the sights, may cause agents pooling these weapons to not be as accurate if they need to use those weapons to defend themselves or their colleagues.

Customs and Border Protection issued the following statement when contacted by the reporters from the television station:

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. No further information is available at this time.

The tactic of simply taking weapons out of service without immediately replacing them endangers the agents and undermines border security. There is no reason for CBP to not immediately replace the carbines that were taken out of service. These weapons are not only used by the Border Patrol, but by the armed forces of the United States. It is inconceivable that there is a shortage of such weapons in the inventory of our armed forces or the Border Patrol. As such, agents whose weapons were removed from service should be resupplied immediately.

When I was an INS agent, a decision was made to have our enforcement personnel transition from revolvers to semi-automatic handguns. In order to bring about this transition, agents were provided with new weapons (or provided with the opportunity to purchase appropriate weapons deemed acceptable by the INS). As soon as the agents completed the necessary training, they began carrying the new weapons. Similarly, when a decision was made at INS Headquarters to require that all agents carry .40 caliber handguns, replacing the previously authorized 9mm weapons, a similar process was followed to make certain that agents had firearms during the transition period.

There is no reason why Border Patrol agents should be divested of their means of self-defense.

In law enforcement and within the ranks of our military, there is a philosophy, summed up succinctly in this statement: “If you are in combat and find yourself in a fair fight, someone screwed up the planning!”

The point is that the best way to prevent a deadly situation for the “good guys” (and for the “bad guys” as well) is to make certain that the good guys have such a clear superiority in numbers and capability that the bad guys don't even think about engaging in a battle – they simply surrender with no shots fired. Taking those rifles from the Border Patrol agents, along that dangerous border, without immediately replacing them runs contrary to that commonsense doctrine.

However, the current situation calls into question another possibility, and one that is extremely disturbing. Given the administration's policies to not enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders, the obvious question that unfortunately must be asked is: “Could this be a way to keep Border Patrol Agents from doing their jobs?”

Agents who are concerned that they may be outgunned by members of the extremely violent Mexican drug cartels may simply decide that it is unsafe and unreasonable to confront heavily armed smugglers. Handguns are no match for rifles. Clearly, this policy is endangering the lives of our valiant Border Patrol Agents who constitute that “thin green line” and are charged with securing our borders and, hence, protecting national security and public safety.

Given the long series of statements and tactics consistent with this administration's demonstrated abhorrence to actually secure the U.S. borders and enforce immigration laws effectively, it is not unreasonable to see this situation as yet another tactic intended to hobble the efforts of our Border Patrol.

Leaving our Border Patrol agents vulnerable is unconscionable for those valiant law enforcement officers. Furthermore, when their safety is compromised, the safety of America and Americans is compromised. Our borders and our immigration laws are America's first line of defense and last line of defense against international terrorists and transnational criminals.

The obvious question is “Whose side is this administration on?”

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