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The truth about federal ammo purchases

March 11, 2013
We have posted several articles, including some commentary from us, expressing concern about the apparent large purchases of ammunition by various federal agencies.  So we were relieved when we received the latest Patriot Post on Friday (3-8-13) that is entitle:  The truth about government ammo purchases.  They write:

The last few months have seen troubling news of massive government purchases of ammunition. Agencies from the Social Security Administration to the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Homeland Security have purchased millions of rounds. But is the whole thing more hype than substance?

Ever since Barack Obama was first elected in 2008, he has been selling guns and ammunition at a faster clip than any gun salesman could hope for. And since his re-election, citizens have been faced with severe shortages of both. This can only be exacerbated by large government purchases. The Social Security Administration (SSA), for example, purchased 174,000 rounds and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) bought 320,000 rounds. More understandable in purpose but also perhaps more staggering in scale, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) put in a request for 450 million rounds, while the FBI intends to purchase 100 million.

The headlines are ominous, but some of the hype can be put in perspective by doing a little math. National Review's Charles C. W. Cooke does just that. The SSA's request for 174,000 rounds amounts to just 590 rounds for each of its 295 inspector general agents "who investigate Social Security fraud and other crimes." Some of us might go through 590 rounds in an afternoon at the range. As for the USDA, 320,000 is enough to provide the same number of rounds for 542 agents, and, through the Forest Service, those agents have an area the size of Pakistan to cover.

When it comes to the bigger orders, Cooke writes, "The FBI and DHS's apparently vast orders are deceptively presented by the conspiracy theorists. It is true that in 2011, the FBI ordered up to 100 million bullets for its 13,913 special agents (which works out to 7,187 per agent). And, yes, the Department of Homeland Security -- a composite department that oversees USCIS, Customs and Border Protection, FEMA, ICE, the TSA, the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, and the National Protection Directorate -- placed a request for up to 450 million rounds for its 65,000 armed personnel (which works out to 6,923 per agent). But in the real world, ammunition is not divided up and handed out on such a basis. What is bought is stockpiled and then allocated on the basis of need. The DHS's order is expected to last for at least five years, and it was placed up front primarily as a cost-saving measure." Indeed, DHS is not even bound to buy that much; they merely have a tab on which to order more rounds as needed.

That certainly doesn't mean there aren't questions or that we should simply shrug and look the other way. For starters, the Department of Education recently placed an order for "27 Remington Brand Model 870 police 12-gauge shotguns." This might lead any reasonable person to ask, as Cooke does, "Whether it is in possession of one bullet or 1 million bullets, should the federal Department of Education be armed in the first place? If so, why?" We would add, should there even be a Department of Education? But that's a topic for another day. The DoE has been known to botch raids when it was the wrong enforcement vehicle from the start.

The same questions could be asked of any number of bureaucracies. Does the Social Security Administration really need an armed enforcement division? We've known some unruly seniors in our day, but that seems to be overkill.

Then there's the information that's just plain false. Reports have been circulating that DHS has procured 2,717 Mine Resistant Armor Protected (MRAP) vehicles. The truth is, DHS has had retrofitted MRAPs since 2008, and now has 16 of them for serving "high-risk warrants." The figure of 2,717 comes from a delivery to the Marine Corps, not DHS. None of that, however, takes away from the problem that these are more properly military vehicles for war zones, not law enforcement tools. The militarization of law enforcement is undeniably troublesome. Furthermore, DHS is the same bureaucracy that claims right-wing extremists pose a threat, and it's run by an administration that thinks that "weapons of war" shouldn't be on our streets. Unless they're the ones driving them, apparently.

There are certainly troubling trends here and very real threats to our Liberty, but we must be careful not to exaggerate. While readers know that we never minimize the outrageous growth of government beyond its constitutional bounds, it also doesn't seem to us that the government is, as some have put it, "stockpiling bullets in case of civil unrest." Questions about procurements and functions? Absolutely. Apocalypse? Not yet.

  1. reply print email
    Govt. Ammo Purchases
    March 12, 2013 | 11:39 AM

    I will try and forget the Government against us feeling I get everytime I read/hear the news but: If a SSA special agent can go through 590 rounds in a day at the range what gun is he using? If is is a handgun he must be there from dawn to dusk. And if he goes through that amount does he do it once a week, a month or for his annual qualification? And if he expends that amount does he get anothe 590 rounds the next day?
    Generalities will bite you in the butt every time. And figures lie as we all know from the latest round of sequester slight of hand.

    George H. Schryer
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    Govt. Ammo Purchases
    March 12, 2013 | 01:02 PM

    What a crock of made up cr ap. Why have they not purchased these large amounts all at once in the past. Go sell it to the liberal blind Obama supporters. We know better. If this happened as a stand alone fine, but pile this on top of all the other Obama agenda items such as disarming the american people and only a moron would have to wonder why they need so many rounds of ammo. I guarantee you that they are not about to go blow up that kind of ammo on a firing range and I also quarantee that all government agengies just didn't happen to run out of ammo at the same time. Best invest in a bullet proof vest if you're not willing to give up your weapons upon demand. Articles like this are a slap in the face to anyone with half a brain.

    No Fool
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    Govt Ammo Purchases III
    March 12, 2013 | 10:48 PM

    This whole situation is one huge cluster to say the least. It is odd, as Mr. Schryer stated, that many government agencies ran out of ammunition at the same time. Is an apocolypse going to happen, no. Could the American citizens stand up against these clowns in Washington DC who are taking away our rights given by the Constitution, You bet your a** we will.

    There is no way that these agencies just decided that they needed ammunition and mine detecting tanks at the drop of a hat. There has got to be something else going on behind the scenes.

    Here is my theory, let me know what you think.

    The Federal Government has gotten wind that if their gun control laws somehow make it past a GOP led house than all hell is going to break loose. That would explain why mass amounts of ammunition are being purchased by the federal government and it would explain why they ordered an insane amount of state of the art tanks for "Homeland Security". It dosn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is insanely stupid. The sad part is that many people believe that Obama is doing this for the safety of the american people! Since when did disarming american citizens and making a mockery of the US Constitution become defending the american people? They are preparing to implement martial law and make the former Soviet Union look like pre-schoolers. Let's hope our Republican leaders can keep this crap from hitting the fan. People need to listen to Senator Rand Paul, He speaks the truth!

    William H. Cratch III
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    Govt Ammo Purchases III My Thoughts
    March 14, 2013 | 04:48 PM

    These are all very interesting comments to read and I'm glad many folks are at least trying to think about this and respond. My personal thoughts are this. Gun control measures are notorious for getting clogged up in all the rhetoric and BS and the measures currently being proposed are so extreme that they would most likely be junked by the house. So with that said what better way than to fix the ammo and gun market by gobbling up as much of the supply as possible in the meantime at the federal level. This causes a fixed market of massively increased demand through very limited available supply to the public. This then causes a snowballing effect in which folks buy up more and more guns, gun parts and ammo thus furthering the supply shortage. This behavior in my eyes is no different than what we have seen in the oil market with perceived threats of diminishing reserve. Someone farts in the Middle East and speculative market conditions push the cost of oil up X percent. Am I saying the government has bought up extra oil in the past to help facilitate supply shortage? Who knows, but in this case the feds have clearly ramped up their stockpiles of ammo during this gray time. The fact is we have more reserves of crude oil in the ground than folks want to admit but that’s a whole other topic. Back to the ammo discussion. As I mentioned, the slyest gun control measure would be for the anti-2nd amendment folks in power to continue threatening gun control and actually leave it open to speculation as to “what is going to happen” rather than just try to get a bill passed and find out it fails at the house. By keeping speculative market conditions and the feds themselves buying stuff up the market is what it is. Finally, to add, unlike other presidents in the past the guy we have in office now has pushed very extreme measures like his borderline socialized healthcare plans, so it makes this whole conspiracy theory stuff seem even more realistic and probable. One fact is true, we might all be part of a self-fulfilled prophecy if we don’t speak out with our voices and our ballots. We are Americans. We are free, and we answer to the constitution of the United States of America. Let’s keep it that way.

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    Fact checking
    March 19, 2013 | 01:51 AM

    Interesting that the paper dredged up the whole Kenneth Wright, Dept. of Education OIG warrant thing. Too bad they neglected to do even a bit of basic fact checking, or follow-up. If they had done so, they'd have discovered that Wright was subsequently indicted with five others, to include his so called "estranged" wife. In fact, had they bothered to look the case up on WebPacer they'd have seen that it appears that Wright and Co. appear to be negotiating pleas.

  6. reply print email
    Ammo Purchases
    March 21, 2013 | 10:22 PM

    Obama wants a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party, The "Obama" Party, and to get there he first must ask you to hand over your guns, all of your guns and ammo. This great United States is the Champion of Freedom. We must in great numbers stand tall and tough for what is right, with our backbones not our wishbones, and never stop fighting for our freedom.
    THE ONLY THING TO FEAR IS, FEAR ITSELF. - Franklin D. Roosevelt

    M D Lee
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    guns- 2nd Amendment
    March 21, 2013 | 10:31 PM

    George Mason, co-author of the Second Amendment, put it this way during Virginia's convention to ratify the Constitution: "ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."

    Is that clear enough?

  8. reply print email
    Gun/ammo purchases & the Federal Reserve
    March 21, 2013 | 10:38 PM

    Excerpt from

    According to the Board of Governors, the Federal Reserve System "is considered an independent central bank because its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government, it does not receive funding appropriated by the Congress. Wonder if they made large purchases of guns and ammo recently

  9. reply print email
    March 30, 2013 | 12:16 PM

    Everytime I read or see the news....Our gov. Makes me feel all warm an fuzzy inside.

    Hannah F
  10. reply print email
    Federal Goverment buying up all the ammo
    May 24, 2013 | 12:21 PM

    This is how our Government is spending our money now days, to buy ammo so we can not buy it? Is this scary I think it VERY SCARY. Is Obama Afraid of a civil war. I think it could happen. He needs to be Impeached.

    Stan Higby
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