The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is still stockpiling vast amounts of ammunition, although the pace apparently has slowed down a bit.
The department purchased 84.4 million rounds of ammunition in 2013, down from a high of 132.9 million rounds of ammunition it bought in 2009, a Government Accounting Office (GAO) report found.
The purchases in recent years have led to a shortage of bullets nationwide, as well as concern by some citizens that the government is preparing for some sort of civil unrest.
Even though it is buying fewer bullets, Homeland Security still maintains a huge stockpile of ammunition. The report noted that the department had 159 million rounds of ammunition in its arsenal in October, 2013. That was enough to meet the needs of its 70,000 armed agents for 22 months.
“Specifically, the GAO looked at DHS’s history of ammunition purchases and found that purchases have declined considerably since 2009,” US Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma noted in a press release. Coburn has been highly critical of the stockpiling.
DHS Ammunition by the Numbers
The GAO uncovered a few interesting statistics about Homeland Security’s ammo purchases. These facts included:
- The department plans to buy less ammunition in 2014 than 2013 — 75.1 million rounds instead of 84.4 million.
- Even though it is buying less ammo, the bullets purchased will cost more. Homeland Security’s ammo bill for 2013 was $19.2 million but it expects to pay $22.7 million for ammunition this year.
- Homeland Security’s ammunition purchases have been steadily dropping since 2009. The amount of ammo bought peaked at 132.9 million rounds in 2009, fell to 117 million rounds in 2010, 100.3 million rounds in 2011 and 96 million rounds in 2012.
- Homeland Security purchases around 1,000 rounds of ammunition a year for each of its armed agents. That’s less than the Department of Justice, which purchases 1,300 rounds of ammunition for its agents every year.
- The report didn’t say how much ammunition the Department of Justice purchased but noted that the organization had between 13 and 20 months’ worth of ammunition stockpiled.
- The Department of Homeland Security has 70,000 armed agents on duty. The Department of Justice employs 69,000 armed agents. That means the two departments have around 139,000 armed law enforcement agents working for them.
This report contradicts a February 2013 Associated Press story that claimed the Department of Homeland Security was planning to buy 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition over a series of five years.
It should be noted here that these numbers do not reflect all the ammunition purchases by the US government or the number of armed law enforcement agents Uncle Sam has. These numbers also don’t include such agencies as the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, which maintain police forces but are under the Department of the Interior.
Nor do these numbers reflect the amount of ammunition purchased or stockpiled by the military. The Free Republic reported that the US military used 70 million rounds of ammunition a year during the recent Iraq war.
Senator Coburn seems to be satisfied with Homeland Security’s response, although he’s still skeptical of the department and its future activities.
“I am pleased DHS has worked in good faith, and in a transparent manner, with both myself and the GAO,” Coburn stated in a press release. “I will continue to conduct rigorous oversight of DHS programs and will specifically work with Congress and the GAO to examine how duplicative federal police forces cause excess and waste across the federal government.”