Some federal air marshals were hastily issued old and untested firearms in questionable condition before departing on international missions throughout Europe last weekend, according to sources and a letter written by lawyers representing the air marshals’ union.

This past Friday, immediately prior to departing on international missions, air marshals in the Charlotte field office suddenly and in some instances without any explanation had their Sig Sauer P229 service weapons, issued late last year, replaced with P229s from 2002, without the older weapons being fired or otherwise tested, according to sources and documents.

Lawyers representing the Air Marshal Association called this “alarming, unsafe, and in clear violation of policy” in a scathing letter sent to the head of the Charlotte field office on Monday.

On Friday evening, federal air marshals around the country were told their P229 pistols were defective and were being recalled by their manufacturer. Some of the weapons had problems with their safety levers, according to the TSA. An email blast sent to all air marshals carrying the subject line “SIG Sauer P229 Update” outlined the issue and the two ways, depending on the type of field office, defective weapons would be fixed. This process, according to the email, was scheduled to begin on Monday, August 31.

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