What do non-military federal agencies need with 2 billion rounds of ammunition?
While speculation abounds over the federal government’s recent binge on bullets, gun organizations like the National Rifle Association have told WND the purchases are perfectly consistent with the total number of armed officers in the government’s various agencies – a fact some, however, say is downright intimidating.
“It’s not the number of bullets we need to worry about,” said Jeff Knox, director of The Firearms Coalition, “but the number of feds with guns it takes to use those bullets.”
“I don’t think it’s a dark conspiracy,” added Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, “I just don’t understand the need for all that firepower.”
For years, WND has been at the forefront of reporting the growth in federal police power being dispersed across dozens of government agencies:
- In 1997, WND blew the lid off 60,000 federal agents enforcing over 3,000 criminal laws, a report that prompted Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America to remark, “Good grief, that’s a standing army. … It’s outrageous.”
- Also in 1997, as part of a ongoing series on the militarization of the federal government, WND reported on the armed, “environment crime” cops employed by the Environmental Protection Agency and a federal law enforcement program that had trained 325,000 prospective federal police since 1970.
- WND also reported on thousands of armed officers in the Inspectors’ General office and a gun-drawn raid on a local flood control center to haul off 40 boxes of … paperwork.
- WND further reported on a plan by then Delaware Sen. Joe Biden to hire hundreds of armed Hong Kong policemen into dozens of U.S. federal agencies to counter Asian organized crime in America.
- In 1999, WND CEO Joseph Farah warned there were more than 80,000 armed federal law enforcement agents, constituting “the virtual standing army over which the founding fathers had
nightmares.” Today, that number has nearly doubled.
- Also in 1999 WND reported plans made for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to use military and police forces to deal with Y2K.
- In 2000, Farah discussed a Justice Department report on the growth of federal police agents under President Clinton, something Farah labeled “the biggest arms buildup in the history of the
federal government – and it’s not taking place in the Defense Department.”
- A 2001 report warned of a persistent campaign by the Department of the Interior, this time following 9/11, to gain police powers for its agents.
- In 2008, WND reported on proposed rules to expand the military’s use inside U.S. borders to prevent “environmental damage” or respond to “special events” and to establish policies for “military support for civilian law enforcement.”
- Most recently, WND reported that while local police have found themselves short of necessary ammunition, the federal government has been stockpiling billions of rounds for its non-military, non-FBI law enforcement officers.
“There are currently more than 70 different federal law enforcement agencies employing over 120,000 officers with arrest and firearms authority, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics data for 2008,” explained Knox in a recent WND column. “That’s an increase of nearly 30 percent between 2004 and 2008. If the trends have continued upward at a relatively steady rate, that would put the total number of federal law enforcement officers at somewhere between 135,000 and 145,000.
“That’s a pretty staggering number,” Knox continued, “especially when you consider that there are only an estimated 765,000 state and local law enforcement officers. That means that about one in seven law enforcement officers in the country works directly for the federal government, not a local jurisdiction.”
Knox points out that the federal government’s powers are further escalated by the growing arsenal of state and local law enforcement agencies, which can be effectively conscripted by federal agents to assist them in their actions.
“When Homeland Security Investigations decided to stage an assault on the empty home and business of [New Mexico gun shop owners] Rick and Terri Reese, they did so not only with dozens of federal agents, but with dozens and dozens of officers from state, local and county agencies – including helicopters and armored personnel carriers,” Knox recalled. “As federal power grows and state and local authority is subjugated, the U.S. is simply a matter of degrees away from the definition of a ‘police state.’ The corruption of power is palpable.”
Popular concern about the potential threat of a growing “police state” has only escalated in recent years as dozens of news reports reflect both local and federal police forces growing more heavily armed and more antagonistic toward the public:
- In the Atlanta area, for example, citizens were alarmed to see an armored “BearCat” military vehicle with thermal imaging patrolling neighborhoods;
- The DHS is now reportedly granting billions of dollars to police departments for purchase of military-style hardware;
- Reports from Florida, Texas and Minnesota reveal black helicopters firing blanks over freeways and armed troops invading towns as part of “realistic urban training” for the military;
- Local police departments have been attempting to launch drone technology to watch over cities;
- The Department of Homeland Security was caught labelling as potential “terror” threats such “right-wing extremists” as returning war veterans, pro-life activists and states’ rights advocates;
- The Obama administration has come under fire for a memo on the authorized use of drones to kill U.S. citizens.
Recent news of the federal government’s large ammunition purchases, however, brought the issue of the government’s firepower to a front.
Questions began swirling last year as reports emerged that several agencies – including the DHS, Social Security Administration, even the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – were submitting purchase orders and opening bids for millions of bullets, a number that has swelled to billions cumulatively in the last 10 months alone.
The government’s only official explanation for the massive ammo buy is that law enforcement agents in the respective agencies need the bullets for “mandatory quarterly firearms qualifications and other training sessions.”
The National Rifle Association further released a statement, based on the findings of Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., explaining the quantities of ammunition ordered are reasonable for the purposes the government explains.
“If you take the number of agencies that will be using this ammunition – CBP, Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), ICE, the U.S. Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration, the DHS police force and all the guards that protect the various buildings these agencies are housed in, and spread that out over 5 years, you start to see that [and order for] 450 million rounds really isn’t that large,” Westmoreland explained in his findings. “In fact, there are 65,000 – 70,000 law enforcement personnel at DHS who would be covered under this … ammunition contract. … Considering those agents go through training exercises several times per year, that is not a lot of ammunition.”
Westmoreland makes the point that the federal government is merely saving money by “purchasing in bulk … just like you and your family take that monthly trip to Sam’s Club or Costco to get your bulk needs cheaply.”
Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America said there is no good explanation for the amount of ammunition being purchased.
“There is no satisfactory explanation for the huge quantity of ammunition being purchased by the Department of Homeland Security. One does not target practice with hollow point ammunition. This is not lawful for use in war,” Pratt explained.
“It could only be used against the American people. The DHS is not a constitutional agency and should never have been created. It is not too late to defund it.”
And Knox says Westmoreland and the NRA are missing the point. The potential threat isn’t from the ammunition, but from increasing police power of the federal government.
“Homeland Security Investigations, or HSI, has quickly become one of the highest-profile federal police organizations in the U.S., competing with the FBI, DEA and ATF for attention and tax dollars,” Knox wrote. “That statement is particularly disconcerting when you realize that there is no provision in the Constitution for any federal police force. The idea of federal police pursuing criminals and violently executing warrants upon the general citizenry would have been abhorrent to the framers.”
Knox conceded in his column that good arguments can be made for the existence of a dedicated border guard and federal agencies to protect high-ranking officials, protect the federal currency and coordinate enforcement of laws regarding interstate commerce, and so forth.
“But bureaucrats who inspect the records of retailers and manufacturers have no business carrying guns and badges,” Knox opined, “nor do those who investigate white-collar crime for the Small Business Administration and the Department of Education.”
Chris Knox, director of communications for The Firearms Coalition, told WND legitimate concerns about a police state stem from “a set of three intertwined problems,” namely, “militarization of local police, federalization of law enforcement (including local cops getting goodies from federal forfeiture actions) and the expansion of federal law enforcement, where nearly every agency has its own armed service, not just the Drug Enforcement Agency, but administrative agencies like the Department of Education.”
Give all those federal cops two billion bullets, Jeff Knox says, and now there’s cause for concern.
Radio host Michael Savage listed one more factor on his program last week, citing not only the rise in federal acquisition of guns and ammunition, but also the simultaneous effort by the Obama administration to place more restrictions on private gun ownership.
“If you want to get paranoid, Obama can really help you in your work,” Savage continued. “Why would the Department of Homeland Security have purchased 1.6 billion rounds of hollow-point ammunition over the last 10 months at the same time they’re trying to disarm the average American citizen?”
Savage’s comments can be heard below:
Additional research by Alyssa Farah.