Why are Federal Bureaucracies “Stockpiling” Ammunition?
Gun Laws by State was asked about federal agencies purchasing large amounts of ammunition this week on WIBC’s “The Garrison Show” in Indianapolis.
“What does the Social Security Administration need with 174,000 rounds of ammo?”
“Why the heck does the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration need 46,000 rounds of .40?”
“What is the Department of Homeland Security planning to do with 450 million rounds of hollow-point ammunition?”
Valid questions, certainly…but there are also valid answers.
Social Security Administration (SSA)
It is true that the Social Security Administration requested a purchase of 174,000 rounds of pistol ammunition. What many people don’t know is that the agency has 295 special agents who combat Social Security fraud. It is not widely known or understood, but these SSA agents do have the power to arrest and execute warrants against persons committing such fraud, wherein the carrying of arms comes into play. The math works out to about 590 rounds of ammunition per agent for training qualifications, as well as to carry on duty. Avid shooters could easily use that much ammunition during a few sessions at the range and such individuals often make purchases of a thousand or so rounds of ammunition they use regularly.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
The NOAA similarly requested 46,000 rounds of .40-caliber ammunition for use by agents of the Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement. These agents enforce laws and regulations against illegal fishing and marine importation. The Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement has about 63 such agents, so the math again comes out to about 730 rounds of ammo per officer.
Department of Homeland Security
Perhaps the most ominous-sounding request for ammunition came from the Department of Homeland Security. DHS submitted a contract for a purchase not to exceed 450 million rounds of .40 caliber hollow-point ammunition over the next five years.
This particular request grabbed the attention of Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (GA-3), who looked into the matter. Congressman Westmoreland’s Chief of Staff, Kevin Doran, provided a report on the congressman’s website. In the report, Mr. Doran explained that the purchase order is known as an “Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity” (IDIQ) contract, encompassing the anticipated amount of items needed for all the agencies under the DHS umbrella.
For better or worse, DHS has a very large umbrella. Bulk purchases tend to save money and such IDIQ contracts are common for a variety of supplies.
Congressman Westmoreland’s office further explains:
“Setting up contracts in this manner allows for a cheaper purchase price, saving money over the long-term. In fact, contracts like this one saved taxpayers $336 million in FY2011 alone. Additionally, purchasing in bulk like this helps DHS headquarter (sic) conduct better oversight over its agencies and ensures consistency among all the agencies under DHS. So, in this case CPB, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Secret Service, and other DHS agencies will all use the same 40 caliber round so these rounds can move between agencies if need be – another way to potentially save money down the road.
“If you take the number of agencies that will be using this ammunition – CBP, Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), ICE, the U.S. Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration, the DHS police force, and all the guards that protect the various buildings these agencies are housed in, and spread that out over 5 years, you start to see that 450 million rounds really isn’t that large of an order. Especially considering it is used for training purposes like firing range and live fire exercises, on-the-job use (though that is very limited), and to shore up their supplies. In fact, there are 65,000 – 70,000 law enforcement personnel at DHS who would be covered under this IDIQ ammunition contract. If DHS were to purchase all 450 million rounds over 5 years, then that would equate to only about 1,384 rounds of ammo per year per law enforcement personnel (or about 155 rounds per month (about 10 magazines worth of ammo per month) or 3-4 rounds per day) assuming the lower estimate of only 65,000 law enforcement personnel at DHS. Considering those agents go through training exercises several times per year, that is not a lot of ammunition.”
There are plenty of healthy reasons to be skeptical of government and its actions, but hopefully the description of these bulk purchases can put American gun owners’ minds at ease.
Thanks to Congressman Westmoreland and Mr. Doran for studying and reporting on the matter for the benefit of all American gun owners.
— Ashley Varner, Director of Public Affairs, Gun Laws By State
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