In the aftermath of the Orlando terrorist attack, many Washington politicians tried to shift the conversation to the Second Amendment and called for an assault weapons bans. But former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, our Honorary Chairman, had another idea. In this interview on CNBC, Coburn said we should improve our system of background checks, but said it was IRS officials and non-military federal personnel who should be subject to an assault weapons ban, not the general public.
This week, our organization at OpenTheBooks.com released our findings in an editorial at The Wall Street Journal that quantified the growing federal arsenal. The number of non-military federal officers with arrest and firearm authority (200,000 ) now exceeds the number of U.S. Marines (182,000). Spending on guns, ammo and military-style equipment at 67 federal agencies – including 53 regulatory, administrative agencies amounted to $1.48 billion between 2006-2014.
The IRS gun-locker is an example of this growing federal firepower. Nearly $11 million was spent on guns, ammo, and military-style equipment for 2,316 ‘special agents’ during this period. The IRS stockpile includes pump-action and semi-automatic shotguns with buckshot and slugs; and semi-automatic AR-15 rifles (S&W M&P 15) and military-style H&K 416 rifles. Source
: OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – The Militarization of America
Who has more firepower? The U.S. Marines or the rank-and-file, administrative federal agencies?
The recent growth of the federal arsenal begs the questions: Just who are the feds planning to battle?
In 1996, the Bureau of Justice Statistics officially counted 74,500 federal officers who had arrest and firearm authority. By 2008, the Bureau quantified over 120,000 such officers. Newly updated counts were supposed to publish by this July but the Bureau now admits that over 80-percent of federal agencies ignored or stonewalled responses to their latest survey. What are they trying to hide?
Even though our organization at OpenTheBooks.com estimated the number of non-Department of Defense federal officers at 200,000 , the current number of non-military federal officers and security personnel could be much larger. Here’s why:
- The feds refuse to disclose the number of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers, claiming a national security exception.
- The growth of officers within the 53 administrative, regulatory agencies since 2008 is uncertain. Our officer count estimate used a no-growth figure of 30,000 – the same count as in 2008.
- Likewise, the count within the Department of Homeland Security is unclear. We found conflicting sources citing figures at 70,000 and 63,000. We used the more conservative figure for our analysis.
At Health and Human Services (HHS), it’s also unclear just how many ‘special agents’ are currently employed. Yet, research uncovered
a multi-million-dollar program for HHS ‘Office of Inspector General Special Agents’ that used a sophisticated military-style weapons platform with Special Forces contractors training the agents on domestic special operations.
Today, HHS is operating from a brand new "National Training Operations Center" within the Washington, D.C. area they describe as "an operational readiness, emergency response, crisis room and command post for HHS headquarters and staff." That’s serious business for an agency supposedly preoccupied with "health" matters.
Across the federal government, we low-balled our estimates. Another reason our numbers may be low is many federal employees are not officially counted within the scope of federal audits. Other agencies operate under different laws and rules that obscure or conceal their weapons caches.
For example, by law, any Department of Agriculture (USDA) employee can carry a gun for self-protection in the performance of official duties. It’s unclear as to how many USDA employees are armed. However, at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), a spokesperson confirmed that over 1,500 employees are authorized to carry a firearm.
In 1996, at the Department of Veterans Affairs, there were zero employees with firearm and arrest authorization. Today, a spokesman admits to 3,700 police officers guarding and securing VA medical centers. Our data shows that the VA spent $11.66 million on guns, ammo and military-style equipment. Specifically, the VA spent more than $3.6 million on ammunition, $2 million on guns, $2.3 million on body armor, and $200,000 on night-vision equipment.
As the Obama administration and its allies are pushing hard for an assault weapons ban on private citizens, taxpayers are asking why IRS agents need AR-15s. After grabbing legal power, federal bureaucrats are amassing firepower. It’s time to scale back the federal arsenal. Coburn is right. It’s time for an assault weapons ban at the IRS and other federal regulatory agencies.
Adam Andrzejewski is the Founder and CEO of OpenTheBooks.com, and author of the oversight report, The Militarization of America
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