This posting by the U.S. Postal Service is certainly eye-catching. On January 31, 2014, the USPS posted this solicitation for purchasing small arms ammunition. Contrary to some reports, the posting does not specify a quantity or type, other than specifying “assorted small arms.” It closes on February 10, 2014.

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Added: Jan 31, 2014 4:54 pm

The United States Postal Service intends to solicit proposals for assorted small arms ammunition.If your organization wishes to participate, you must pre-register at https://uspsesourcing.emptoris.com, the Postal Service’s eSourcing tool. From the login page, click on the “Register Supplier Organization” hyperlink and provide all required information. Organizations are encouraged to have each participating representative registered individually. When registering, include 332992 as one of your NAICS selections.

It may seem odd for the USPS to be in the business of buying ammunition, but actually it has had armed officers for centuries. Chances are, this buy is for the US Postal Inspection Service. The USPIS employs about 1,600 special agents who investigate mail fraud and related crimes. Some of these investigating agents pack firearms, usually a Beretta semi-auto 9 mm pistol.

The USPIS is not new nor is its having armed agents new. The inspection service has been around since the days of Ben Franklin, who created the post of “surveyor” when he was postmaster general. Surveyor eventually evolved into the present-day special agent, which is a detective or investigator. Think of them as similar to arson investigators, who typically work for a fire department but carry firearms, investigate crimes, and have some police powers. USPS has periodically purchased guns and ammunition for longer than the United States has been a country.