Special agents at the IRS accidentally shot their firearms 11 times between 2009 and 2011, and at least three of the cases “may have resulted in property damage or personal injury.”
Agents actually fired their guns accidentally more often than they intentionally fired them in the field, according to an audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
The September 2012 audit examined whether IRS special agents, who execute search warrants for those suspected of violating U.S. tax laws, are being properly trained and reporting incidents when weapons are fired.
“When performing their duties, special agents carry firearms and are authorized to use deadly force to protect themselves and the public,” the report explains.
“Special training agents not properly trained in the use of firearms could endanger the public, as well as their fellow special agents, and expose the IRS to possible litigation over injuries or damages,” it warns.
According to the audit, “there were a total of eight firearm discharges classified as intentional use of force incidents and 11 discharges classified as accidental during FYs 2009 through 2011.” In other words, agents were more likely to accidentally fire their weapon than to fire it intentionally.
Accidental discharges are defined in the report as “instances where a special agent did not intend to discharge the firearm but, either through a voluntary or involuntary action, the firearm did discharge.”
Accidents are supposed to be reported to the National Criminal Investigation Training Academy (NCITA), which manages the firearms training program for the IRS Criminal Investigation unit. However, four of the 11 incidents were not properly reported.
“In three of the four accidental discharges that were not reported, the accidental discharges may have resulted in property damage or personal injury,” the report says.
The details on these incidents, however, are redacted from the report.
A TIGTA spokesperson told CNSnews.com that the audit could not disclose the information due to privacy laws.
“It would have identified an individual by name and that’s not allowed under the privacy act,” they said.
Furthermore, the audit details that agents who accidentally fire their guns do not receive special follow- up training.
“We found that the four visited field offices did not always provide remedial training when an accidental discharge occurred due to special agent negligence,” the report said.
The review was performed at field offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. between August 2011 and April 2012.
Special agents for the IRS are required to have handgun training four times a year, shoot a minimum of 75 percent on a qualifying test, participate in firearms “building entry” exercises, and attend briefings on safety and how to shoot a gun from a moving vehicle. In addition, they are mandated to receive shotgun training twice a year.
Agents are also now training with AR-15s, according to Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), who toured a federal law enforcement facility last month.
“I think Americans raise eyebrows when you tell them that IRS agents are training with a type of weapon that has stand-off capability,” Duncan told Politico. “It’s not like they’re carrying a sidearm and they knock on someone’s door and say, ‘You’re evading your taxes.’”
The TIGTA audit found that the firearms training and requirements for the Criminal Investigation division “generally met or exceeded those of other Federal law enforcement agencies.”
“However, we found that some special agents did not meet all of the firearms training or qualification requirements,” it said.
TIGTA gave several recommendations to the IRS, including that the agency enforce its rules that agents must surrender their firearm if they fail training, or face other consequences.
A spokesman for TIGTA said there are no plans for a follow-up report at this time.
“Typically, we like to give the IRS some time to respond to the recommendations and take action and we usually try to circle back in the future,” they said. “But I don’t think we’ve enacted any specific plans at this point.”