Gunowner concerns about the shortage and rising cost of ammunition and the impact of large purchases by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) previously have been addressed in statements by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms and ammunition industry’s trade association.

However, government sources have not been as forthcoming.

Now, TGM obtained what may be the most detailed government explanation The new input on the subject came in the form of a letter to a constituent in Hudson, NY, sent by Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY), a member of the House Armed Services Committee In his May 31 letter, Gibson directly addresses constituent concerns about recent procurements by DHS.

“While these reports are partially correct,” Gibson wrote, “they do not give the whole story. In regards to the reports that the DHS has purchased almost two billion rounds of ammunition, this is untrue. While this number itself is exaggerated, it also refers to a cap on the number of rounds of ammunition the entire DHS can purchase over a five year time period, not the rounds actually purchased. The cap has never been reached; instead, various agencies within DHS have purchased a combined total of a little over 100 million rounds each year, including 148 million in FY2010, 108 million in FY2011, and 103 million in FY2012. When the DHS does not purchase up to the statutory cap, it returns the funding to the Treasury Department.

“DHS contains more than 45 percent of the total federal law enforcement force with arrest and firearms authority, which amounts to tens of thousands of firearm-carrying or qualified individuals who use hundreds of rounds of ammunition annually in training and certification requirements alone. As to the specific rounds purchased, the ammunition used by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the US Coast Guard, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (where over 60,000 state, local, and federal officers train annually), the U.S. Secret Service, and other qualifying agencies within the DHS are predominantly depending on the type of firearm and mission priorities,” Gibson reported before addressing a related source of citizen concern.

“…Regarding the reported purchase of up to 2,770 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs), this assertion is also untrue. DHS has a total of 32 MRAPs in its fleet. These vehicles are split evenly between the ICE Special Response Teams and the CBP border tactical units, both of which use them for their highly trained, SWAT oriented units that could be in extremely violent situations while combating heavily armed drug cells. These vehicles themselves are not armed and instead used for their radio, armor, and personnel carrying capabilities.

“However, despite this background,” Gibson continues, “I agree that this is a very large amount of ammunition, especially for a department with predominantly domestic duties dealing with criminal activity and immigration matters and given our tough fiscal times.

“Regardless, I do not believe that this agency, nor any agency of the federal government, would ever purchase ammunition or firearms with the specific intent to use them en masse against the American public. Nor do I believe that the intention of these purchases is to lower the quantity available or increase the costs of equivalent ammunition available to the public, both of which issues are becoming increasingly prevalent due to the record number of private gun owners in this country and the high volumes of private ammunition purchases.

“With that said, you would be interested to know that I am a strong supporter of eliminating the Department of Homeland Security as a standalone department and consolidating its various agencies and programs that are vital and non-duplicative into the various other cabinet-level departments.

Furthermore, I will continue to work closely with my colleagues such as Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who is the Chairman of the Subcommittee with jurisdiction over this issue, to ensure full accountability of and clarity in such purchases in the future.”