As Homeland Security’s stockpile of weapons and ammunition grows larger, recent reports indicate the department is soliciting bids for 25 million rounds of shotgun ammunition over the next five years.
According to an online solicitation, the firepower will be collected “for use by all applicable agencies in the Department of Homeland Security” and “will be used as appropriate at all Department of Homeland Security … component locations nationwide and outside the [contiguous United States.]”
“The estimated quantities for slug ammunition types of ammunition are approximately three million rounds per year and for buckshot ammunition are approximately two million rounds per year,” the posting explains.
This is hardly the first such solicitation made by the agency in recent months. So far in 2014, DHS has reportedly amassed a huge reserve of long-range artillery shells. Just months prior to that, reports indicate the department surveyed manufacturers in an effort to determine which could reliably produce millions of rounds of ammunition within a limited timeframe.
Some estimates place the total stockpile of ammunition at more than 2.5 billion rounds, a large percentage of which consists of devastating hollow-point bullets.
The Bundy Ranch standoff revealed the propensity of at least one federal agency to bear arms against American citizens. Bureau of Land Management officers engaged in a standoff with the Cliven Bundy, using force against several members of his family, in their effort to collect a debt.
It was obvious from that incident that the DHS is not the only agency with weapons, ammunition, and willing officers at the ready.
Of course, that situation also motivated hundreds of passionate patriots to respond in kind, resulting in the agents’ retreat – at least temporarily. Facing an entity with billions of rounds of ammunition, however, would be an entirely different proposition.
Documentation proves virtually any of the federal government’s many agencies – including the Department of Education and the U.S. Postal Service – are engaged in collecting ammunition.
While there is no indication these bullets are being amassed for use against U.S. citizens, the sheer number of rounds combined with recent exhibitions of federal force is enough to cause concern among already wary Americans.
Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Washington-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said: “We’re seeing a highly unusual amount of ammunition being bought by the federal agencies over a fairly short period of time. To be honest, I don’t understand why the federal government is buying so much at this time.”
Jake McGuigan, director of state affairs and government relations for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said widely reported federal ammunition purchases have sparked conspiracy-type fears among gun owners, who worry that the federal government is trying to crack down on Second Amendment rights via the back door by limiting the ammo available to owners.
It’s not just the USPS that is stocking up on ammo.
A little more than a year ago, the Social Security Administration put in a request for 174,000 rounds of “.357 Sig 125 grain bonded jacketed hollow-point” bullets.
Before that, it was the Department of Agriculture requesting 320,000 rounds. More recently, the Department of Homeland Security raised eyebrows with its request for 450 million rounds — at about the same time the FBI separately sought 100 million hollow-point rounds.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also requested 46,000 rounds.
Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, asked: why exactly does a weather service need ammunition?
“NOAA — really? They have a need? One just doesn’t know why they’re doing this,” he said. “The problem is, all these agencies have their own SWAT teams, their own police departments, which is crazy. In theory, it was supposed to be the U.S. marshals that was the armed branch for the federal government.”
Armed federal employees are often assigned to offices of investigative services, the offices of inspectors general, or other equally bureaucratic agencies.
For instance, regular Internal Revenue Service agents aren’t equipped with on-the-job guns — but those affiliated with the agency’s Criminal Investigations Division are.
The same goes for workers with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General, and with the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General.
The Energy Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Commerce Department, and the U.S. Agency for International Development are a few of the federal entities that boast an armed division, tasked with investigating fraud and suspected criminal activities. As such, the agents get to carry guns.
“Most of these agencies do have their own police forces,” said Jim Wallace, executive director of the Massachusetts-based Gun Owners’ Action League.
That, perhaps more than federal ammunition purchases, is the larger issue, he suggested, and Van Cleave agreed.
“What’s the need for that? Do we really need this? That was something our Founding Fathers did not like and we should all be concerned about,” Van Cleave said, speaking of the expansion of police forces throughout all levels of government.
The Department of Homeland Security employs in its various law enforcement entities — from the Coast Guard to the Secret Service to Customs and Border Protection — more than 200,000 workers, an estimated 135,000 of whom are authorized to carry weapons. When the agency makes its ammo buys, it often does so over the course of several years.
“We realize that the House is still investigating the ammo purchases by the administration, but from what we’ve seen so far, most representatives don’t seem alarmed,” said Erich Pratt, communications director for Gun Owners of America.
“For example, [Georgia Republican] Rep. Lynn Westmoreland said that given all the agencies that the Department of Homeland Security purchases for, “450 million rounds really is not that large of an order,” Pratt said.
McGuigan acknowledged that there was a scarcity of ammo but attributed it more to a rise in purchases by individuals.
The Obama administration’s stated desire to scale back gun rights drove more in the private sector to purchase firearms — which in turn fueled ammunition sales, McGuigan said.
“Over the last few years, there’s been a tremendous increase in gun ownership, [with] many more females,” McGuigan said. “I think a lot of people need to be aware of what’s happening, and what the federal agencies are doing. I don’t think, though, they need to be overly concerned that there’s not going to be any ammo left.”
But the notion of the Obama administration’s using backdoor means to scale back gun ownership — a move that’s hardly been kept secret.
Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives have been busy in California seizing inventories, computers, and customer lists for the manufacturer and distributors of an unusual piece of plastic that the ATF says is a gun.
To understand what this is all about, first you need to know some basic facts about building guns. First, Americans have been legally manufacturing personal-use firearms in their basements, garages, and backyard shops since the nation was founded.
Only since 1968 have commercial manufacturers been required to be licensed, but anyone wishing to build a gun for their own personal use is free to do so under federal law.
Next is the issue of what exactly constitutes a firearm. If I sell you a plain block of steel, aluminum, or plastic; that is not a gun, and there are no requirements for any sort of government paperwork, even if you plan to carve that block into a firearm. Likewise, if I do some machining on the block before I sell it to you – taking care of some processes that might be particularly difficult or require special tools – but I don’t do all of the necessary machine work – this unfinished piece of material is still not considered more than just a piece of metal – a paperweight – and still, no government paperwork, license, or tracking is required.
Where exactly the line lies between a paperweight and a firearm, has been determined over the years by manufacturers submitting their unfinished pieces of metal to the ATF for a ruling on whether the amount of work completed constitutes a firearm under legal definitions. In the case of the AR-15 rifle, the ATF’s determination has been that as long as the central well where the trigger assembly goes, and the critical holes for the trigger pin, hammer pin, and the safety selector switch have not been drilled, the part is not yet a firearm, even if all other machining, drilling, and threading on the receiver have already been completed.
An entire industry has sprung up around this do-it-yourself AR concept, due primarily to the relative simplicity and modularity of the AR design, the ready availability of AR parts and accessories, the widespread popularity and versatility of the gun, and the relative ease of machining aluminum as opposed to the steel of most other firearms. Government restrictions – and threats of restrictions – on manufacture and sale of these types of firearms have also fueled increased interest. And of course, where there is demand, there is opportunity. Small machine shops around the country began turning out semi-finished paperweights in the shape of AR lowers as fast as their machines would go, especially after commercial ARs got scarce and prices began climbing shortly after the election of Barack Obama.
So, in this environment of high and growing demand, manufacturers looked for ways to bring costs – and prices – down while simultaneously trying to make their products more attractive to home-builders. An innovative new entry into this burgeoning market was a company called EP Armory (www.eparmory.com ) , who introduced an injection molded AR paperweight with a novel twist. Rather than mold the entire piece from one type of plastic, they started with a core of one color, and then molded a more durable polymer in a contrasting color around it. They also molded in little pegs with dimples at the exact points where the critical pin and selector switch holes need to be drilled. With this system, a hobbyist with nothing more than a hand drill, a rotary grinder, a sharp knife, and determination can carve away the core material, drill out the holes, and build a functional rifle – with the addition of $500 to $1000 worth of other parts.
Whether it is the ease of the EP Armory system or a mistaken technicality whereby ATF thought that EP molded the empty trigger-well first and then filled it with light-colored polymer – which would have crossed the line from paperweight to firearm – the end result is that ATF declared the unfinished EP Armory paperweight to be a firearm. That means it requires a manufacturer’s license to make and a Federal Firearms License to sell; two documents EP Armory does not possess.
In early March, ATF raided EP Armory, confiscating their inventory of thousands of AR-shaped blocks of plastic and seizing computers and customer lists. A few days later ATF sent a letter to one of EP’s largest distributors, Ares Armor, demanding that they turn over their inventory of EP AR-shaped paperweights and their customer list or else ATF would get a warrant and seize the items.
Ares Armor offered to let ATF have their EP paperweights, but refused to turn over their customer list. They went to court and were successful in obtaining an injunction prohibiting ATF from seizing their business information. ATF in turn got the injunction amended to allow seizure under a criminal warrant and a day later raided Ares Armor, confiscating their inventory, breaking open their safe, and seizing their customer lists under a warrant based on a criminal complaint of selling firearms without a license.
The whole matter is now back in the courts, with our friend, attorney Chuck Michele representing both EP and Ares.
All of the thousands of customers who purchased plastic paperweights manufactured by EP Armory, whether from EP, Ares, or a third party, are now at risk of possible criminal prosecution. EP is appealing the determination that their paperweights are firearms, but ATF is expected to soon begin demanding that people turn them in or face felony prosecution.
http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/USPS-ammo-purchase-federal/2014/04/14/id/565541/ , http://www.westernjournalism.com/dhs-need-25-million-shotgun-rounds/ , http://www.ammoland.com/2014/03/feds-going-after-plastic-gun-market-your-personal-information/