Does DHS Buy Too Much Ammunition?

Department of Homeland Security ammunition buying is back in the news. Republican House members questioned the amount of ammo being bought, alleging DHS agents use more than Army personnel.

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz said Thursday that the Department of Homeland Security is using roughly 1,000 rounds of ammunition more per person than the U.S. Army, as he and other lawmakers sharply questioned DHS officials on their “massive” bullet buys.

Democrats called this allegation “conspiracy theories.” Which brings us to today’s lesson on politics and reality, usually two different animals.

According to Rep. Chaffetz, “the DHS is churning through between 1,300 and 1,600 rounds per officer” on an annual basis. This translates into between 108 and 133 rounds per month for their 70,000 agents. We’ve easily shot 200-300 rounds during a one-day tactical training, topping 500 rounds in a weekend. Others report shooting even more. Since shooting skills are perishable, 108-133 rounds per month for professionals isn’t unreasonable.

Nevertheless, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK 3) have introduced legislation banning federal agencies from “stockpiling.” They allege that massive ammunition purchases by federal agencies contribute to what’s become an effective gun ban: Working firearms need live ammunition to be functional, and manufacturers haven’t been able to adequately supply the civilian market for months, leading to sharp price increases.

The DHS “categorically” denied it’s buying ammo targeted for American citizens. But “categorically” is a new-speak term, the verbal equivalent of crossing one’s fingers behind one's back. Which category does this denial exist within? Is it DHS’s interpretation of reality on the day it made the denial, which can shift as soon as somebody rationalizes reality into another form?

But comparing the historical trend towards less liberty versus political rhetoric exposes more important considerations than whether you can buy ammunition today.

The issue of DHS shooting jacketed hollow-point during training is a red herring. Many agencies train with the ammunition they use on the job. The only issue here is that they are buying more expensive training ammo because they’re not paying for it, we are. Then we have to spend more discretionary after-higher-taxes income for our own ammunition that cost half as much a year ago.