This story pushes so many of TTAG’s buttons it makes Lt. Sulu look chronically under-employed. More than a few members of our Armed Intelligentsia sent me the link to this morning’s newsobserver.com, wherein we learn that the N.C. Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) used taxpayers’ money to purchase 150 “investment grade” Kimber 1911s at $1050 a pop. For on-the-job use. So, our Yankee Gun Nut asks, how did that turn out? About as well as you (of all people) would expect. Only worse . . .
ALE Director John Ledford said the Kimber pistols repeatedly suffered such problems as rounds jamming during training exercises, broken sights and the weapon’s safety button sometimes falling off. He made a deal with a local firearms dealer to swap the pricey pistols for less expensive handguns without spending any additional money.
Or reporting any profit that may accrue to the IRS. Yup, inappropriate weapons, profiteering on the public purse, firearms abuse. This story’s got it all . . .
Responsible for conducting background checks on ABC permit applicants and catching bootleggers, ALE is among the smallest of the state-run law enforcement agencies. Currently, there are just 112 full-time agents statewide. An additional 22 retired ALE personnel serve as “reserve agents.” They will also be issued new service pistols.
“Just” 112? Well, there’s also the federal ATF out there. WAY out there. Somewhere. Meanwhile, 122 plus 22 equals 146. Who got those “spare” four Kimbers? Never mind. This thing smells to high heaven without worrying about a handful of guns.
The Kimber .45-caliber 1911 pistols were bought under former Director Bill Chandler, who abruptly retired in September 2009, days after The N&O detailed the purchase and revealed that two assault rifles issued to ALE agents were missing. Other issues included stolen pistols and an agent who accidently shot himself.
An avid gun buff and collector, Chandler ordered Kimbers with special sights and the ALE seal carved into their handles, spending $158,250 provided to the agency through federal seizures involving alcohol, drugs and illegal gambling. The purchase was also approved by Chandler’s supervisor, Gerald Rudisill, the chief deputy secretary of crime control.
Similar pistols are used by elite Special Forces soldiers and the U.S. Olympic rapid-fire target shooting team, according to Kimber’s website.
Well of course they are. And that’s relevant to the ALE’s work because . . . I got nothin’. But the ALE agents? They get new guns! And the old guns. For a $1!
The Kimbers replaced Sig Sauer handguns bought in 2003 and 2005 for about $685 each. The Sig pistols, which Chandler said were worn out, were declared “surplus” and sold to agents for $326.
A review of Internal ALE records going back three decades shows the agency has bought all new firearms every few years. The old guns are then typically sold to ALE staff, usually for less than half the price the state originally paid.
Records show that since 2000, the agency has sold at least 373 pistols and shotguns back to its own agents. Some agents have bought as many as six discounted weapons in the last decade, sometimes buying more than one of the same model.
As with state troopers and SBI agents, a state law also allows retiring ALE personnel to buy their last service weapon at a price set at the discretion of the agency. Historically, that price has been $1.
And I bet they’re worth every penny, too. Anyway, this whole story is a slur, a slur I say, against Kimber, who make dead reliable guns, no matter what that Yankee bastard has to say. Or the pistol-pampered members of the the ALE’s brave LEO team, who would never make shit up just to get new guns or a bit of profit selling the old guns, and if they did, would retire soon thereafter. Still, just out of curiosity . . .
Since the Kimbers were issued to agents in the fall of 2009, Ledford said, his agents documented 289 malfunctions with the pistols during training exercises. Many agents chose to carry personal weapons instead, Ledford wrote in a memo Nov. 8 to Young.
In an effort to fix the problems, Ledford contacted Ralph Karanian, the chief operating officer of Kimber America of Elmsford, N.Y. Karanian promised to fix the problems, and the company replaced a key spring on the pistols, according to the memo. Agents also fired as many as 1,500 rounds with each pistol on the suggestion they needed to be “broken in.”
But with the manufacturer’s warranty expiring at the end of 2010, Chandler wrote Young that the best solution was to trade in the troublesome Kimbers for new Sig Sauer 220 pistols similar to what the agency had previously.
With Young’s approval, Ledford negotiated a deal to trade in the department’s Kimber pistols to a Raleigh firearms dealer in exchange for 150 new Sigs valued at $718 each.