Members of Congress are demanding the Obama administration explain why it is stockpiling a huge arsenal of ammunition and weapons.
The Department of Homeland Security bought more than 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition over the last year, as well as thousands of armored vehicles.
Advertisement - story continues below
Rep. Timothy Huelscamp, R-Kan., wants to know what DHS plans to do with all that firepower, but he can't get an answer.
A reporter for We Are Change asked Huelscamp at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week why DHS needs weapons of war.
"They have no answer for that question. They refuse to answer to answer that," Huelscamp said.
"I've got a list of questions of various agencies about multiple things. Far from being the most transparent administration in the world, they are the most closed-nature, opaque and they refuse to let us know what is going on, so I don't have an answer for that. And multiple members of Congress are asking those questions," he added.
Huelscamp said he plans to apply pressure to get an answer: "It comes down to during the budget process, during the appropriations process, are we willing to hold DHS's feet to the fire? We're going to find out. I say we don't fund them 'til we get an answer."
Advertisement - story continues below
Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., also wants answers, and WND has reported that he is demanding an explanation of DHS's bullet buys from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
"I think Congress should ask the department about both of those issues, and I would like a full explanation as to why that has been done, and I have every confidence that the oversight committee … should ask those questions," said Lance, adding that he shared a belief "that Congress has a responsibility to ask Secretary Napolitano as to exactly why these purchases have occurred."
As WND reported, the Department of Homeland Security has argued that it is buying in bulk to save money, explaining it uses as many as 15 million rounds a year for training law enforcement agents.
But the 1.6 billion rounds of ammo would be enough for more than 100 years of training, or, more ominously, enough to fight a war for more than 20 years. It would also be enough to shoot every American more than five times.
Forbes columnist Benko, who worked for two years in the U.S. Department of Energy's general counsel's office in its procurement and finance division, doubts the government's explanation.
"To claim that it's to 'get a low price' for a ridiculously wasteful amount is an argument that could only fool a career civil servant," he writes.
Advertisement - story continues below
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she believes the federal government is building an arsenal to prepare for the day the country goes bankrupt. Last month, she wrote on her Facebook page: "If we are going to wet our proverbial pants over 0.3% in annual spending cuts when we're running up trillion dollar annual deficits, then we're done. Put a fork in us. We're finished. We're going to default eventually and that's why the feds are stockpiling bullets in case of civil unrest."
The prospect of civil unrest puts a chilling spin on an ominous remark then-candidate Barack Obama made in a Colorado campaign speech in July 2008.
"We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded," said then-candidate Obama.
Even the far-left is worried by the feds' growing power.
Advertisement - story continues below
WND reported four days ago that Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, a left-wing "peace and social justice movement" known for its colorful marches and protests, told WABC host Aaron Klein the potential for the Obama administration to abuse its growing domestic police power is "extremely troubling."
Klein asked Benjamin, author of "Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control," if she was concerned that military-style drones now authorized to fly over U.S. skies could be used against American citizens, the same question that prompted U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to filibuster in the Senate earlier this month.
"Very much so," Benjamin replied. "We see a militarization of the U.S. police forces here in the United States, and it's a very troubling tendency."
Furthermore, Benjamin charged she was "upset" that liberal Democrats – who might question and fight the federal government's growing police powers under a Republican administration – "have been very quiet when this is happening under Obama."
Klein asked if concerns that federal agencies are buying for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition over the last year meant America is heading toward some sort of military-style control.
"I think the potential is there," Benjamin replied, "and the fact that 10 years after 9/11 the U.S. is still keeping the American people in the state of fear about terrorism and using that to take billions and billions of our tax dollars to use to set up these kind of facilities and equip our local law-enforcement agencies with military equipment and potentially really be turning us into a society where Big Brother is watching us all the time, I think is extremely troubling."
The astronomical growth in federal firepower comes at a time when Democratic lawmakers and President Obama are trying to reduce the availability of guns for American citizens, following the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
A law went into effect in the state of New York on Jan. 15 banning so-called assault weapons and limiting ammunition magazines to seven rounds.
Just yesterday, Colorado's governor signed into law a measure expanding requirements for background checks and another putting a 15-round limit on ammunition magazines.
Gun-rights supporters are fighting back in both states.
The National Rifle Association announced today that it has joined the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association in a lawsuit challenging the New York law.
Sheriffs in Colorado are considering filing suit against that state's new anti-gun laws.
Weld County Sheriff John Cooke said he and many other county sheriffs "won't bother enforcing" the new laws, because it would be impossible to keep track of whether gun owners are meeting the new requirements.
He says the laws are "feel-good, knee-jerk reactions that are unenforceable" and would "give a false sense of security."
As WND reported, similar sentiments have been expressed by Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and sheriffs in Missouri, California, Kansas, Montana and in dozens of counties in several states across the country.
Weld has joined the list of at least 340 sheriffs who have vowed to uphold the Constitution against gun-control measures that violate Americans' Second Amendment rights.
The sheriffs' push-back against the gun measures is significant because, "The bills are a model for what they'll try to push in Congress," said Independence Institute research director and Denver University law professor Dave Kopel.
"Colorado is a pawn for the Obama-Biden plan," he added.
That plan is moving forward in Congress, although not even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could get Democrats to go along with banning "assault weapons."
Earlier this week, Reid told Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that her measure to ban those weapons would not be part of a sweeping bill restricting gun rights. She said Reid decided the ban had little chance of surviving a vote in the Senate.
Feinstein said she will be able to offer the ban as an amendment instead. But AP suggested that by pushing it back to that level, Senate leaders believe it will have a hard time passing.
Feinstein sponsored the 1994 assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. Her current proposal would have banned 157 different types of weapons and ammunition magazines.
All of these gun-control measures have some concerned about outright confiscation of guns.
WND reported three weeks ago that the City Council in Guntersville, Ala. proposed to give police officers the authority to "disarm individuals, if necessary," during an emergency or crisis. The council quickly backed down after an outcry when the story hit the Internet.
Such blatant grabs for guns are not new in the U.S. Less than a year ago, the Second Amendment Foundation fought a court battle over a North Carolina regulation that banned firearms and ammunition outside the home during any declared emergency, and won.
A provision in a Washington-state gun-control bill that failed in the state House last week was so draconian that even its sponsors backtracked or denied any knowledge of it when they were confronted about it.
As Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat reported, the "Orwellian" measure would allow the county sheriff to inspect the homes of owners of so-called "assault weapons" to ensure the weapons were stored properly.
In the post-Newtown debate, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke speaks for many of the nation's sheriffs in saying such firearms seizure plans are flat-out unconstitutional and they won't enforce them.
Authorities confiscated firearms in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Thousands of weapons – legally obtained and owned – were simply grabbed from citizens after New Orleans Police Superintendent P. Edwin Compass III announced, "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons."
In a series of videos, the NRA has documented the stunning weapons grab by police in New Orleans, assembling videos that show them physically taking weapons from individuals, including one woman who was stunned when officers threw her against her kitchen wall because she had a small handgun for self-defense.
The not-to-be-forgotten images, Part 1:
The police actions – many of the victims describe the gun confiscation as out-and-out theft – left New Orleans' residents, who had been prepared to stand their ground and defend themselves from thugs and looters running amok, completely defenseless.
WND reported this week a new poll indicated only one in five gun owners would be willing to give up their firearms if the government demanded it.
"In other words, the government has a huge fight on its hands if it tries to implement a gun confiscation program," said pollster Fritz Wenzel of Wenzel Strategies.
Nearly half of the nation's households have at least one gun, according to a 2011 Gallup poll. The 2010 U.S. Census counted nearly 115 million households. Since President Obama took office in 2009, more than 65 million background checks have been conducted on gun purchases.
The push to limit the gun-rights of citizens comes as the federal government seeks to expand both its firepower and its reach. WND has reported on growing federal police power across dozens of government agencies for more than a decade and a half.
In 1997, WND exposed the fact that 60,000 federal agents were enforcing more than 3,000 criminal laws. The report 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 an ongoing series on the militarization of the federal government, WND reported armed, "environment crime" cops employed by the Environmental Protection Agency and a federal law enforcement program 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 a plan by then-Delaware Sen. Joe Biden to hire hundreds of armed Hong Kong policemen in dozens of U.S. federal agencies to counter Asian organized crime in America.
In 1999, 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, WND CEO Joseph 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."