Questions were raised last week about the Department of Homeland Security’s true reasons for making the massive ammunition purchases that have grabbed headlines in recent months as lawmakers questioned agency officials about the bullet buys.
“It is entirely… inexplicable why the Department of Homeland Security needs so much ammunition,” Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said during a hearing.
While some Democratic lawmakers defended DHS officials who said that the department had made orders for a slightly higher amount of ammunition than usual, Chaffetz was joined by Republicans in disagreement.
He pointed out that DHS currently has more than 260 million rounds stockpiled. According to the lawmaker, the agency bought in excess of 103 million rounds in 2012 and reported using 116 million rounds over the year among its roughly 70,000 agents. Those numbers mean that DHS allocated 1,300 to 1,600 rounds per officer, dwarfing the U.S. Army’s average of roughly 350 rounds per soldier.
Representative Darrel Issa (R-Calif.) posited that ammo bought by DHS is being stockpiled, “disposed of,” passed to other agencies, or shot “indiscriminately.” Other lawmakers have taken similar views, questioning whether the agency is expecting widespread civil unrest or is simply buying ammo to limit access to civilian purchasers.
DHS officials attacked conservative online media, namely Drudge Report, for making issue of purchases that represent “about 1 percent of the total number of rounds manufactured in the U.S.” each year. The agency denies reports that it plans to buy up to 1.6 billion rounds over five years, saying the number is closer to 750 million.
Resultant of the hearings was the introduction of the Ammunition Management for More Obtainability (AMMO) Act of 2012 by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Representative Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) in their respective chambers.
The lawmakers believe that DHS’s ammo purchase plans are directly related to President Barack Obama’s gun-control agenda.
“President Obama has been adamant about curbing law-abiding Americans’ access and opportunities to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” said Inhofe. “One way the Obama Administration is able to do this is by limiting what’s available in the market with Federal agencies purchasing unnecessary stockpiles of ammunition. As the public learned in a House committee hearing this week, the Department of Homeland Security has two years’ worth of ammo on hand and allots nearly 1,000 more rounds of ammunition for DHS officers than is used on average by our Army officers. The AMMO Act of 2013 will enforce transparency and accountability of federal agencies’ ammunition supply while also protecting law-abiding citizens’ access to these resources.”
The proposed legislation would restrict agencies from obtaining more ammunition for a six-month period when agency stockpiles reach monthly averages higher than they were prior to the Obama Administration.
“I was surprised to find out the DHS has the right to buy up to 750 million rounds of ammunition over the next five years, while it already has two years’ worth of ammo already. This is an issue that must be addressed, and I am pleased this legislation provides us the opportunity to do so.” said Lucas.