As a supporter of the constitution, which includes every amendment, including the Second, I am supportive of the individual right to keep and bear arms. I generally consider gun ownership to be a good thing because the Founders, in their wisdom, understood it is the ultimate deterrent to tyranny. Not only that, should deterrence fail, it retains for the people, unlike the people of every other nation, the ability to overthrow tyranny. Statists, of course, hate the very thought of this fundamental American principle. They scream that the very thought of common citizens rising up and overthrowing the government is anti-democratic. They bitterly complain about the Second Amendment, complain, that is, when they’re not doing everything they can to destroy it and disarm the law-abiding.
The Age of Obama has not only served as a period of extraordinarily rapid growth in the output of the firearm industry, it has also served to convince the Constitution-observing law-abiding of the wisdom of the Founders in writing the Second Amendment. People who never before thought of buying a gun are now gun owners, and while there are far more firearm owners and firearms abroad in American than ever before, the firearm accident rate continues to dramatically diminish.
One other facet of the age of Obama, however, has given the law-abiding pause: the incredible rate of stockpiling of guns, ammunition, and tacticool goodies by federal agencies that would seem to have no need whatever for such hardware. Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe reports:
Amid the current din over assault weapons and body armor, consider one domestic organization’s fearsome arsenal of military-style equipment.
In the space of eight years, the group amassed a stockpile of pistols, shotguns, and semiautomatic rifles, along with ample supplies of ammunition, liquid explosives, gun scopes, and suppressors. In its cache as well are night-vision goggles, gas cannons, plus armored vests, drones, and surveillance equipment. Between 2006 and 2014, this organization spent nearly $4.8 million to arm itself. Yet its aggressive weapons buildup has drawn almost no public attention.
Does all this firepower belong to a jihadist terror cell? A right-wing hate group? A vicious urban gang?
None of the above. It is the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, an agency of the US Department of Agriculture, that has built up such a formidable collection of munitions. And far from being an outlier, it is one of dozens of federal agencies that spends lavishly on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment.
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service? A part of the Department of Agriculture? I can see the TV series now: “Bolt Fertile: Agent of A.P.H.I.S.”
A report issued this month by American Transparency, a nonpartisan watchdog that compiles data on public expenditures, chronicles the explosive — and expensive — trend toward militarizing federal agencies, most of which have no military responsibilities. Between 2006 and 2014, the report shows, 67 federal bureaus, departments, offices, and services spent at least $1.48 billion on ammunition and materiel one might expect to find in the hands of SWAT teams, Special Forces soldiers — or terrorists.
The largest share of that spending has gone to traditional law enforcement agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the US Secret Service. But the arms race has metastasized to federal agencies with strictly regulatory or administrative functions.
In the unlikely instance such people must conduct raids that will place their employees in deadly danger, they can always get the assistance of a variety of federal law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, US Marshall’s Service, etc., but what would be the fun of that? It’s much more exciting, I’m sure, to dress up in tacticool goodies and run about with neat guns and other goodies, like the fellow depicted above with a holographic sight mounted backward on his AR.
The Internal Revenue Service, for example, now spends more than $1 million annually on firearms, ammunition, and military gear, double what it was spending a decade ago. Since 2006, the Department of Veterans Affairs — which has been sharply criticized for episodes of fatal incompetence in patient care — has poured nearly $11.7 million into guns and ammo. Even the Smithsonian Institution and the Social Security Administration have each devoted hundreds of thousands of dollars to weaponry.”
Incredibly, there are now fewer US Marines than there are officers at federal administrative agencies with the authority to carry weapons and make arrests. The soaring growth of this federal arsenal alarms Adam Andrzejewski, the head of American Transparency’s OpenTheBooks.com, which researched and assembled the new report [go here for a PDF of the report]. “Just who,” he asks, “are the feds planning to battle?
That’s a good question. This is a topic I’ve revisited from time to time (go here and here for information). Particularly during the Obama years, Federal agencies of all descriptions have been buying incredible amounts of ammunition, guns and other goodies. There have indeed been some alarming trends. For examples, agencies buying untold millions of hollowpoint handgun rounds, claiming they are for training purposes. Hollowpoints are intended for duty use. Lead or fully jacketed bullets, which are far less expensive, are used for training.
There is also little doubt the public is aware of only a portion of the munitions and related goodies being purchased by the Federal Government. That’s what makes transparency so important. Are these agencies merely buying the ammunition and firearms necessary to conduct regularly scheduled training and to replace worn guns, or are they stockpiling equipment for undisclosed and potentially nefarious purposes? Just how much, gentle readers, do you trust any agency of the federal government? President Trump, should you be the type to trust without reservation, has thus far drained only a cup full of the federal swamp, and even if he is in office eight years, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to drain more than a small portion of the prime bureaucratic, federal swampland.
As I’ve noted in previous articles, I’m neither screaming “the feds are coming; the feds are coming!” or complacently saying there is absolutely nothing about which to be concerned. At the very least, we now, at long last, have a President with the potential to hire people with sufficient common sense and dedication to the Constitution to wonder why agencies like the Department of Education and the Animal and Plant Inspection Service need sufficient arms, ammo and other gear to outfit multiple SWAT teams. I’m not suggesting the federal government might be wasteful with taxpayer dollars—perish the thought!—but perhaps somewhat more rigorous accounting procedures might be in order? If not, Bolt Fertile: Agent of A.P.H.I.S. might one day be busting down our doors and inspecting our pets and plants, outfitted in all the latest tacticool goodies from the most recent SHOT Show.
Maybe I can sell the idea to Marvel Comics…