By Adam Andrzejewski
New data shows that the federal government has become one never-ending gun show.
The federal government’s size, scope, and power has grown dramatically over the past several decades. Although, Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp,” our data shows that his administration continued to arm it—and we have questions.
There are 458 ‘Special Office of Inspector General Agents’ within Health and Human Services (HHS) armed with sophisticated weaponry and trained by military special forces contractors. Why?
The special agents at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are equipped with machine guns and AR-15s. Is an alien invasion imminent?
Then, there’s the museum and zoo-forces — even the Smithsonian Institution employed up to 620-armed officers. Guarding pandas at the national zoo is expensive.
But these security forces pale in comparison to the Department of Homeland Security’s 259,891 firearms (that doesn’t even include the Transportation Security Administration, which doesn’t offer disclosure).
Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com published these details and more in our new report, “Militarization of the U.S. Executive Agencies.” We quantified nearly $1 billion spent on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment in the federal agencies outside of the Defense Department (DOD) between 2015 and 2019 (the latest year available).
After grabbing legal power, federal bureaucrats amassed firepower. Here are a few top lines from our report:
- There are more non-DOD federal employees with firearms (200,000 ) than there are U.S. Marines (186,000).
- 27 traditional law enforcement agencies spent $800 million on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment during fiscal years 2015 and 2019. These agencies include those at the Department of Justice and Homeland Security.
- 76 administrative agencies spent $110.6 million on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment between fiscal years 2015 and 2019. These agencies include the Internal Revenue Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Social Security Administration, and many others.
In 1996, Veterans Affairs did not employ a police force. Since 2010, the VA spent $25.5 million on guns, 11 million rounds of ammunition, and other military-style equipment. Today, the VA has 3,957 law enforcement officers armed with a “long-gun program” (i.e., AR-15s).
The Internal Revenue Service, with its 2,159 “Special Agents,” spent $21.3 million on guns, ammunition and military-style equipment between fiscal years 2006 and 2019. The agency stockpiled 4,500 guns and five million rounds of ammunition.
As the IRS spokesperson confirmed, the agency has a long history of law enforcement responsibilities.
The Office of Inspector General at HHS owns 1,300 guns including one shotgun, five submachine guns, and 189 automatic firearms. Over the last eight years, the HHS has purchased four million rounds of ammunition.
And what about the 800,000 rounds purchased by the Social Security Administration? Do they need that ammo to administer social security checks to seniors?
The Environmental Protection Agency just spent $61,650 purchasing “body armor systems” for 137 special agents. Their gun locker includes 867,000 rounds of ammunition and 600 guns.
An EPA spokesperson confirmed that their special agents “enforce a wide variety of federal laws and regulations. During the course of their duties, special agents execute criminal search warrants and make arrests.”
In 2016, at The Wall Street Journal with former U.S. Senator Dr. Tom Coburn, we sounded the alarm during the Obama Administration. We were concerned with the militarization of the federal bureaucracy. Today, those agencies are more heavily armed than ever before.
Conservatives argue that it is hypocritical for political leaders to criticize private gun ownership while simultaneously equipping non-military agencies with guns, ammunition, and military style equipment.
Progressives, on the other hand, have raised concerns about militarizing police agencies with tank-like vehicles and heavy weaponry.
It’s time for the federal agencies to not only open their books, but also their gun lockers.
Explain to the American people why they need so much firepower to pursue their missions.
Note: All agencies mentioned in this piece were contacted for comment.