Your government is on red alert: between 2006 and 2014, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), an agency of the Department of Agriculture, spent nearly $4.8 million to purchase shotguns, propane cannons, liquid explosives, pyro supplies, drones, thermal imaging cameras, and more.
APHIS describes itself as "a multi-faceted Agency with a broad mission area that includes protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, administering the Animal Welfare Act, and carrying out wildlife damage management activities." Liquid explosives and shotguns are apparently necessary to carry out its "broad mission."
The Department of Veterans Affairs -- which is responsible for a number of fatalities due to medical care incompetence -- has acquired nearly $11.7 million in defensive weaponry. The report also notes that, "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spent $3.1 million on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment. The EPA has spent $715 million on its ‘Criminal Enforcement Division’ from FY2005 to present even as the agency has come under fire for failing to perform its basic functions."
Military supplies have reinforced the basic functions of the Bureau of Public Debt in the amount of $2,792,060; the Energy Department amassed an armory worth $15,625,114 for its dangerous work; and the Office of Policy, Budget, and Administration strengthened its mission with $25,849,568 in firearms and military gear.
The report makes for scary reading: from 2006-2014, the Internal Revenue Service, with its 2,316 special agents, secured over $85,000 worth of guns, ammunition, and military supplies every single month -- for 108 months straight -- accumulating an armory worth more than $11 million.
Regulatory and administrative federal agencies that have firearm-and-arrest authority include the Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Education, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology can arrest me -- at gunpoint?
Transferring unused military equipment to local governments and federal agencies began in 1997, when Congress established something innocuously termed the "1033 Program." Essentially it is a shopping service, with lists of military accouterments.
Since 9/11, business has been very good. According to a September 14, 2012 USA Today story, "Roughly 12,000 police organizations are able to procure excess military merchandise – firearms, computers, helicopters, and hundreds of other products. In fiscal 2011, they acquired nearly $500 million worth of items."
Not to be outclassed, the Department of Homeland Security awarded more than $2.2 billion in grants to local police in 2014-15:
- Military aid to Barry County, Michigan, population 59,173, includes 30 assault rifles, five grenade launchers, four armored vehicles, and a mine-resistant truck.
- For its protection, Granite City, Illinois, population 29,375, needs 25 M16 and M14 rifles, a military-armored truck, and a robot for explosive ordinance disposal.
- Rising Star, Texas has a population of 835 and one full-time policeman. From 2002-2011, there were no reported murders and the town recorded eight assaults. Rising Star stockpiled $3.2 million in munitions over a 14-month period.
On a positive note, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced that it would return the three grenade launchers it had required from the Defense Department -- but keep its armored personnel carrier and 61 assault rifles, thank you.
American Transparency’s report observes, "One could argue the federal government itself has become a gun show that never adjourns with dozens of agencies continually shopping for new firearms."
Gas masks, bayonets, truncheons, and armored trucks complete with rotating turrets are heady stuff for rank-and-file cops. Police look and act like combat-ready troops ready to suppress and control. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a study in 2014 ("War Comes Home: the Excessive Militarization of American Policing") that describes the impact of military subsidies and training on local law enforcement: "Our analysis shows that the militarization of American policing is evident in the training that police officers receive, which encourages them to adapt a ‘warrior’ mentality and think of the people they are supposed to serve as enemies, as well as in the equipment they use, such as battering rams, flash-bang grenades, and armored personnel carriers."
The ACLU report states, "American policing has become unnecessarily and dangerously militarized, in large part through federal programs that have armed state and local law enforcement agencies with the weapons and tactics of war, with almost no public discussion or oversight."
In creating an Executive Order prohibiting the transfer of some military items to local police departments starting in 2016, President Obama said "We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes get people the feeling like there’s an occupying force – as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them."
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) agrees: "When you couple this militarization of law enforcement within erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury -- no knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture -- we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands."
In a police state, the police become an army and an army needs an enemy. The Feds think they have met the enemy and they’re convincing local police departments the enemy is us.
Correction made: The 1033 Program was established by Congress, not the Defense Department.