Less than 24 hours after a joint House subcommittee hearing that probed Department of Homeland Security ammunition purchases, two Oklahoma lawmakers introduced legislation to put the brakes on government stockpiling of ammo.
The move came after months of ammunition shortages at retail outlets across the country that many in the gun community had at least partially attributed to the government procurements. Some have even theorized that all the DHS ammo buying was an effort by the Obama administration to shrink supplies for consumers.
Senator Jim Inhofe and Congressman Frank Lucas introduced the “Ammunition Management For More Obtainability (AMMO) Act of 2013.” The bill would require the Government Accountability Office to “conduct a report on the purchasing of ammunition by federal agencies, except the Department of Defense, and its effect on the supply of ammunition available to the public.”
Following the hearing about huge DHS ammunition purchases that left some House Oversight subcommittee Republicans rankled, Inhofe and Lucas wasted no time introducing their legislation.
“President Obama has been adamant about curbing law-abiding Americans’ access and opportunities to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” Inhofe said in a press release. “”One way the Obama Administration is able to do this is by limiting what’s available in the market with federal agencies purchasing unnecessary stockpiles of ammunition. As the public learned in a House committee hearing this week, the Department of Homeland Security has two years’ worth of ammo on hand and allots nearly 1,000 more rounds of ammunition for DHS officers than is used on average by our Army officers. The AMMO Act of 2013 will enforce transparency and accountability of federal agencies’ ammunition supply while also protecting law-abiding citizens access to these resources.”
“After hearing from my constituents about the shortage of ammunition in Oklahoma and the Department of Homeland Security’s profligate purchases of ammunition,” Lucas added. “We have introduced the AMMO Act of 2013 to curtail these purchases so Americans can exercise their Second Amendment rights without being encumbered by the federal government. I was surprised to find out the DHS has the right to buy up to 750 million rounds of ammunition over the next five years, while it already has two years worth of ammo already. This is an issue that must be addressed, and I am pleased this legislation provides us the opportunity to do so.”
During the hearing, held before the Subcommittees on National Security (chaired by Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz) and Economic Growth, Job Creation, and Regulatory Affairs (chaired by Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan), government officials distanced themselves from reports about the DHS plan to purchase 1.6 billion rounds over the next few years, and instead put the number at closer to 750 million.
Humberto Medina with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, explained that bulk ammo purchases were on par with last year’s procurements. He also said the agency was “looking at trying to be as efficient as possible.”
Republican lawmakers questioned such “efficiency” when they did the math. As noted by Fox News, Rep. Chaffetz – who acknowledged owning his own .40-caliber handgun – was highly skeptical about the bulk purchases, noting that DHS appears to be allotting an average of 1,000 rounds per person more than are allocated for training of U.S. soldiers.
“It is entirely…inexplicable why the Department of Homeland Security needs so much ammunition,” he observed.
Congressman Darrell Issa, chair of the Oversight Committee, observed, “The idea that you have to have excess rounds, year after year, flies in the face of common sense.”
He also suggested that much of this ammunition may be used up “indiscriminately” or is being passed to non-federal agencies, according to Fox News.
Medina, Nick Nayak, the DHS’ chief procurement officer, and Patrick O’Carroll, Jr., the inspector general for the Social Security Administration, offered assurances that the massive ammunition purchase, are not aimed at drying up supplies for consumers.
The Daily Caller ran a story suggesting that the ammunition shortage has been fueled by “rumors and conjecture,” and there is no denying that this is a factor.