A disturbing trend is afoot these days with the federal government’s recent purchase of over a billion of rounds of ammunition – which on the surface, doesn’t seem particularly troubling, until you learn that this purchase is not for the military. Who’s buying up all this ammunition then, if not the military? The Department of Homeland Security, that’s who. If this thought leaves you scratching your head as to why an agency like DHS needs to have 1.6 billion rounds of .40 S&W and .223 Remington on hand, you aren’t alone.
Many people don’t really know what the DHS does or even is. Founded in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks by President Bush, the Department of Homeland Security is an umbrella organization that has several other departments under its aegis, including the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Secret Service, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA), and a handful of other minor agencies. Consider that this listing of agencies probably raises more questions than answers for you, as none of those agencies are particularly known for expending vast quantities of ammunition.
So how much ammunition is 1.6 billion rounds, anyways? To put it into perspective, consider that during the height of the Iraq war, when we were basically shooting everything that moved, we were expending about 5.5 million rounds of ammunition per month. That was for hundreds of thousands of troops! At those rates, DHS has just purchased a quantity of ammunition that will last them a couple of decades of continuous firing. Worried? You absolutely should be; in Iraq, we were fighting a war. There is no domestic war underfoot here in the United States (yet), so why does DHS need to have five rounds of ammunition for every American citizen immediately on hand?
Since the requests for quotation on the ammunition DHS has purchased are essentially public information that most anyone can find online with a little digging, DHS has gone into damage-control mode and spun a number of plausible reasons (to them) as to why this buildup is occurring. Statements have been made to the effect that they are attempting to save the American taxpayer’s money by purchasing in bulk; that the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia has a legitimate need of vast quantities of ammunition for training future federal officers, or that they are simply filling the projected need for federal agents’ routine ammunition expenditures over the next decade.
In any case, it just doesn’t feel right that at the same time the Obama administration is currently trying to disarm the American people, they are purchasing vast quantities of ammunition (and weapons, and armored vehicles). Coincidence is always possible, but just like an odd-looking man who purchases straight razor blades and a bag of apples on Halloween, these sorts of “coincidences” ought to be further investigated.
We need to ask ourselves what the government could possibly hope to accomplish with that much ammunition. While the official explanations are anything but plausible, let’s examine a couple of potential reasons for the DHS shopping spree.
1. Disarmament through purchase: It is extremely unlikely that firearms in general will ever be totally banned or confiscated in America. The Second Amendment is simply too clear on the point of firearms ownership by the people, and the Supreme Court in its recent Heller and McDonald decisions has reaffirmed that the American right to own weapons for self defense is essentially a right that cannot be taken away. Weapons need ammunition, however, and the topic of ammunition regulation hasn’t really arisen in court decisions. It’s not as if the government is taking the ammunition away – they just seem to be buying all of it so the rest of us can’t.
ATK, one of the companies that won a DHS bid for 400 million-odd rounds of .40 S&W handgun ammunition is the parent company of such retail brands as Federal and Speer ammunition. Even a cursory look at your favorite retail or online store shows a complete lack of any ammunition for sale, much less Federal or Speer ammo. Manufacturers claim that production is maxed out on all ammunition because the American citizenry is rushing to purchase ammunition – but wait – would ammo production really be maxed out if ATK didn’t have to supply 475 million rounds of ammo to DHS first? If you were ATK, what contract would you rather have – a big fat lucrative government contract paid for by the American taxpayer, or a few cases here and there to Joe’s Sporting Goods?
In a sense, DHS is outbidding and out-buying the American citizen and stealing production capacity that could otherwise be used to arm law-abiding Americans. The net result is that no ammunition is available for civilian purchase, at any price. We are disarmed by virtue of not having adequate ammunition supplies, plain and simple.
2. A conspiracy against the American people: The Founding Fathers warned of the power and danger of standing armies because they experienced them firsthand. The British were well known for leaving hordes of heavily armed soldiers lying about during peacetime – soldiers that would need to be quartered by Americans and who subjugated them through their mere presence. There wasn’t much the average colonist could do against a brigade of professional soldiers. The American military model that emerged was one of a strong militia and a weak standing army – if there was a conflict that required an army, the militia would drop their plows, pick up their guns, fight their battles – and ultimately return to their plows.
While a series of laws are in place to control the expansion and use of the military against the American people (Posse Comitatus being one of the better known), there are no laws on the books for the control of a monster like DHS – because they aren’t military. They are a civilian agency that is rapidly gaining a military capability, but has none of the constraints that the military has against its use. And they are rapidly arming up.
Call it what you like. Call it budgeting, cost savings, bulk purchase, or economy of scale. The point is still the same. If an individual went to a store right now, and purchased fifteen semi-automatic AR-style rifles, five semi-automatic pistols, a case of full-capacity magazines for each weapon, body armor, a pallet of ammunition, and went and had his car armored – what would you think? Would you think that person was taking advantage of bulk pricing – or on a mission of imminent hostility? Wake up America. Put down your latte, your iPhone, and your game console controller. The people that have sworn to protect us are now better armed than our own military – and they’re taking your guns away at the same time.