For John, BLUF: Reports of Federal ammunition purchases may be overwrought.
Mr Charles C. W. Cooke, an editorial associate at National Review, talks to the great ammunition shortage of 2012 and the large purchases of ammunition by the Federal Government. Here are some of the purchases mentioned in the article:
Last year, the Social Security Administration put out a procurement request for 174,000 rounds of “.357 Sig 125 grain bonded jacketed hollow point pistol ammunition,” prompting a few on the Internet to work themselves up into something of a frenzy.Well, it turns out that the Social Security Administration has an Inspector General's Office with 295 agents. That is just under six for each of our States. Not very thick on the ground. And the amount of ammunition works out to 590 per agent. If we want those agents to be proficient in the use of their weapons, 590 rounds at the range over a year would not be unreasonable.
The Social Security Administration’s purchase was by no means an anomaly. A year earlier, the unlikely pair of the Department of Agriculture (320,000 rounds) and the National Weather Service (46,000 rounds) had both put out tenders for ammunition. And slightly less odd, but still staggering, were the FBI’s professed intention to purchase up to 100 million “hollow point” rounds and the Department of Homeland Security’s concurrent request for 450 million rounds. The Department of Education got in on the weapons-supplying spree, too, purchasing “27 Remington Brand Model 870 police 12-gauge shotguns.”
The USDA amount, using the Social Security Administration ratio, would provide for 542 Forest Service personnel, responsible for patrolling 193 million acres of trees and grasslands. The National Weather Service is really the umbrella agency that includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement. Using the SSA ratio, that is 78 agents. These are not threatening numbers, although the vast number of Federal Agencies with police forces is pretty broad. There are 27 Federal Agencies with Inspector General Offices with arrest and firearms authorization. Is that a little over the top?
The article's author gives us an example from the Department of Education Inspector General, where they were pursuing some vicious criminal:
Fair enough. But here one starts to sympathize with the malcontents. There is a world of difference between the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, or Forest Service and the Department of Education, and that there is no grand clandestine plan for the subjugation of America should by no means be taken to imply that every government action is acceptable. Questions do still abound: 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? Should its OIG be investigating external fraud rather than handing it over to the police or the DOJ or the FBI? For those federal departments that play no role in combating domestic and foreign threats — such as the DoE — what would constitute a threat requiring armed confrontation with malefactors?It is a fair question to ask if the Department of Education needs to be conducting raids or if this could be passed to another agency, Federal, State or Local? I think armed Department of Education agents is a bit over the top. Perhaps it is time to have Congressional Hearings, to see if we have jumped the shark in this area.
In 2011, a story about a Department of Education raid went the rounds. Initial versions suggested that the department had commissioned a SWAT team to break into a California home and arrest the estranged husband of a woman who had defaulted on her student loan. Mercifully, this was incorrect. There was no SWAT team involved, nor was the target being investigated for unpaid loans. But the reality was not necessarily much better. Instead, the DoE announced that it had conducted the raid itself, in pursuit of an American citizen that it suspected of “bribery, fraud, and embezzlement of federal student aid funds.” It was a disaster; the suspect no longer lived in the house, a fact that special agents eventually discovered after they had smashed in the doors at dawn, thrown the occupant’s children into a police car, and kept the suspect’s (innocent) husband in handcuffs in a hot squad car for six hours.
As the local ABC affiliate reported, in an attempt to clear up the confusion, “police officers did not participate in breaking [the target’s] door, handcuffing him, or searching his home.” Instead, the Department of Education did. Judging by their ammunition purchases, the Social Security Administration and the IRS could have done so, too. That, and not fantasies about a plan to counter phantom civil unrest, is what should concern Americans.
Hat tip to the Instapundit.
Regards — Cliff