We live in a dangerous world. For the 70,000 officers at Homeland Security and the 40,000 officers within the Department of Justice, proper training and equipment are vital to their daily law enforcement duties. Over a nearly two-year period - the last years of the Obama administration (FY2015 - FY2016), these law enforcement agencies spent $138 million on new guns and ammunition. That seems reasonable.
What’s curious, however, is that traditionally administrative agencies spent more than $20 million. Four notable examples:
1) The 2,300 Special Agents at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are allowed to carry AR-15’s, P90 tactical rifles, and other heavy weaponry. Recently, the IRS armed up with $1.2 million in new ammunition. This was in addition to the $11 million procurement
of guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment procured between 2006-2014.
2) The Small Business Administration (SBA) spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to load its gun locker with Glocks last year. The SBA wasn’t alone – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service modified their Glocks with silencers.
3) The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a relatively new police force. In 1996, the VA had zero employees with arrest and firearm authority. Today, the VA has 3,700 officers, armed with millions of dollars’ worth of guns and ammunition including AR-15's, Sig Sauer handguns, and semi-automatic pistols.
4) Meanwhile, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agents carry the same sophisticated weapons platforms used by our Special Forces military warriors. The HHS gun locker is housed in a new "National Training Operations Center" – a facility at an undisclosed location within the DC beltway.
This week, our organization at OpenTheBooks.com updated our data to include gun and ammo purchases over fiscal year 2015 and a partial FY2016. Spending on guns and ammo at 58 non-military federal agencies – including 40 regulatory, administrative agencies – amounted to $158 million.
The continued growth of the federal arsenal begs the question: Just whom are the feds planning to battle?
More examples of agencies amassing firepower over the last two years:
- Loading the Gun Locker – Federal agencies spent $44 million on guns, including an "urgent" order for 20 M-16 Rifles with extra magazines at the Department of Energy ($49,559); shotguns and Glock pistols at the General Services Administration ($16,568); and a bulk order of pistols, sights, and accessories by the Bureau of Reclamation whose main job is to build dams, power plants, and canals ($697,182).
- Buying Bullets in Bulk – The government spent $114 million on ammunition, including bulk purchases by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ($66,927); the Smithsonian ($42,687); and the Railroad Retirement Board ($6,941). The Social Security Administration spent $61,129 on bullets including 50,000 rounds of ammunition plus 12-gauge buckshot and slug ammo.
The EPA special agents purchased ammunition for their .357 and 9mm revolvers and buckshot for their shotguns. While Bernie Sanders claimed that the biggest adversary to the United States was climate change, the EPA stood ready
to fight in ways we couldn’t have imagined.
- Hollow-Point Bullets – Despite being outlawed by the Geneva Convention, federal agencies spent $426,268 on hollow-point bullets, including orders from the Forest Service, National Park Service, Office of Inspector General, Bureau of Fiscal Service, as well as Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Here's a closer look at the data by agency, which is posted at OpenTheBooks.com:
Department of Education (DOE)
– The DOE is armed and ready with 88 law enforcement officers possessing arrest and firearm authority. They’ve purchased buckshot for their shotguns and 40-caliber ammunition for their Glocks. DOE special agents dress in body armor. Their spending on guns, ammunition and military-style equipment was up 25 percent during the last two years under the Obama Administration. Yet, in 2016, it took a pair of armed U.S. Marshals to arrest a man
for his unpaid $1,500 student loan!
Department of the Interior – The agency’s mission is to "manage America's vast natural and cultural resources." However, over the last two years, the agency spent $4.4 million on guns and ammunition. Although the National Park Service is responsible for nearly half of this spending – mostly to arm its park police – six other bureaus and offices under the Department of Interior spent millions of dollars to amass firepower.
The U.S. Geological Survey provides
"real-time data and information on current conditions and earth observations." Yet, the agency loaded up on Winchester Black Shadow shotguns and bulk ammunition. Even the Office of the Inspector General armed up – purchasing G27 Glocks, shotgun slugs, and frangible ammo.
Just who is U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service trying to sneak up on? The agency was created to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats – but they spent $410,263 on .308 rifles, Glock pistols, and semi-automatic rifles. Then, they modified their Glocks with silencers.
Department of the Treasury
– Treasury exists
to "maintain a strong economy and create economic and job opportunities ... and manage the U.S. government's finances and resources effectively." However, it spent $2.6 million to maintain a strong arsenal.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing spent nearly $100,000 on a purchase described as "firearms" while the U.S. Mint spent $179,247 on ammunition. The Bureau of Fiscal Services – tasked
with promoting the "financial integrity" of the government through accounting, financing, etc. – spent $672,424 on ammunition including hundreds of cases of .223 Rem 62 Grain Service Ammo, .40 caliber ammo, and buckshot. Additionally, they stocked up on Glock pistols, Remington firearms, and handgun magazine clips.
Department of Agriculture – Even Agriculture spent $1.1 million on guns and ammunition. The Forest Service stocked up on .22 rifles. The National Resources Conservation Service signed a $10,347 contract with Wild West Guns, LLC for "Guns through 30Mm." The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service tallied the biggest tab at the Department of Agriculture, spending $22,336 on rifles and pistols plus nearly half a million dollars on ammunition including buckshot, shotgun shells, and rifle ammunition.
In the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, many Washington politicians have tried shifting the conversation to the Second Amendment, reinvigorating the call for tighter gun control. President Trump has an opportunity to propose changes concerning gun control, but not in the way his opponents are calling for.
Trump should listen
to the advice former U.S. Senator Dr. Tom Coburn memorialized at Forbes last year after the Orland nightclub massacre: the non-military, non-law enforcement – paper pushing administrative federal agencies – are the ones who should be subject to stricter gun control laws, not the general public.
After grabbing legal power, federal bureaucrats are amassing firepower. It’s time to scale back the federal arsenal.