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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More

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?”

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“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


  1. Why are they buying hollow point ammunition rather than less lethal rounds?

    Comment by Jerry Long on August 23, 2012 at 10:51 am

  2. Because hollow points deform on impact meaning they are less likely to exit the target and hit innocent bystanders.The second reason is because they’re less likely to penetrate ballistic armor, reducing the potential for ollateral damage from blue-on-bue shootings.

    Comment by iangould on August 24, 2012 at 6:52 am

  3. Please consider that you DO NOT TARGET PRACTICE with LETHAL rounds of ammo!! Anyone who owns a gun and target practices KNOWS that HP rounds are used for one thing and one thing only…MAXIMUM STOPPING FORCE! As in DEADLY. For those of you who are ignorant or too stupid; HP ammo goes in small, and comes OUT OF THE BODY REALLY, REALLY BIG!!! So; when you own a gun, you keep HP/HTP rounds loaded; but when you target practice, you use the cheap shit to perfect your aim. You might use a couple of rounds of HP just to make sure your gun won’t jam with the new ammo; but other than that, you keep it for the “real world use”. So, now that you know, doesn’t that make you think again??? If it doesn’t, then it should!

    Comment by Not Totally Stupid on September 1, 2012 at 6:25 pm

  4. Not all agencies use practice ammo on the range..We were required to qualify with the ammo we carried on the street. The difference in the P.O.I. (point of impact) of practice ammo and duty ammo can vary from1″-4″ depending on the Brand and bullet weight. But, it is intresting to note that the mass purchases come at this time…coincidence, hhhuuuummm, we’ll have to wait and see…

    Comment by Sonny on January 16, 2013 at 12:34 pm

  5. I almost always practice with hollow point ammo. If you knew anything about ammo, you would know that hollow point rounds actually fly straighter. By removing mass from the tip, you move the center of mass further back in the bullet, which increases stability in flight.
    And since HP ammo is typically the exact same price as FMJ or “metal cased” ammo, why wouldn’t you just use HP at all times?

    Comment by Steve on April 15, 2013 at 10:40 am

  6. Wow! This smacks of NEW WORLD ORDER ordered by Obama administration. You are arguing about how the bullets are used however you aren’t talking about why because you know why. This is against the citizens. We need anti Obama New World billboards and flyers out to everyone so we wont be broadsided by this tyranny.
    Get the word out.
    The media is in their pocket. Hold the media accountable for not sharing this information. They now have the power to shut down the internet.

    Comment by KELLY SUPREME on September 4, 2013 at 9:34 am

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Table of Contents

About the author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More