Thieves in Paraguay have stolen 42 powerful rifles from the police armoury.
During an inspection, officers found that the FN FAL battle rifles had been replaced with wooden and plastic replicas.
The inspection had been ordered after the rifles started appearing a year ago on the black market, where they can fetch up to $10,000 (£7,785).
The rifles had been put into storage but were still in working order.
Some of them are thought to have ended up in Argentina while others are believed to have been smuggled to Brazil.
Neighbouring Brazil has long complained that many of the illegal weapons seized there have been smuggled into the country from Paraguay.
Paraguayan media posted photos of the replicas and called it the “most embarrassing scandal” in the history of the country’s police force.
That last statement rates an enormous “no shit.”
Not only is this a major embarrassment to these Paraguayan cops, it should serve as an object lesson for would-be gun-banners, not that they’ll pay attention to it; bad guy swill always find a way to get guns. In this case, they laid hands on several full-power military main battle rifles, and did so cleverly enough that the theft was not noticed until the rifles started appearing on the black market in three different countries.
Crimes committed by thugs with guns are at high levels and increasing in much of Central and South America, in spite of gun control laws that exceed the wildest wet dreams of the American left. A fundamental rule of cause analysis it that a tool can never be a cause; but the knee-jerk reaction of blaming the sword for the hand that wields it seems to be all too widespread.