Here we go again. Stuck in the aftermath of a horrific shooting and all politicians think to do is scheme about how to take more rights from the citizenry. There are no good guys here. The Democrats want to railroad over due process by denying firearms to people on Orwellian watch lists, while Republicans plot to give the FBI more warrantless surveillance powers. This is the authoritarian knee-jerk response to tragedy we get from the U.S Congress.
Hypocritically, when it comes to foreign policy, all we hear are incessant calls for more militarism, more war and more regime change. As I warned in yesterday’s post, Is the Syrian War About to Experience a Major Escalation? — 51 State Department officials just issued a cable calling for the bombing of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. An event likely to lead to direct confrontation with Russia.
While all of that is bad enough, the U.S. government continues to eagerly and aggressively arm non-defense federal employees with weapons of war.
As Adam Andrzejewski of Open the Books and former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn noted in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed:
The number of non-Defense Department federal officers authorized to make arrests and carry firearms (200,000) now exceeds the number of U.S. Marines (182,000).
For more, let’s take a look at a few excerpts from their piece, Why Does the IRS Need Guns?
Special agents at the IRS equipped with AR-15 military-style rifles? Health and Human Services “Special Office of Inspector General Agents” being trained by the Army’s Special Forces contractors? The Department of Veterans Affairs arming 3,700 employees?
The number of non-Defense Department federal officers authorized to make arrests and carry firearms (200,000) now exceeds the number of U.S. Marines (182,000). In its escalating arms and ammo stockpiling, this federal arms race is unlike anything in history. Over the last 20 years, the number of these federal officers with arrest-and-firearm authority has nearly tripled to over 200,000 today, from 74,500 in 1996.
What exactly is the Obama administration up to?
On Friday, June 17, our organization, American Transparency, is releasing its OpenTheBooks.com oversight report on the militarization of America. The report catalogs federal purchases of guns, ammunition and military-style equipment by seemingly bureaucratic federal agencies. During a nine-year period through 2014, we found, 67 agencies unaffiliated with the Department of Defense spent $1.48 billion on guns and ammo. Of that total, $335.1 million was spent by agencies traditionally viewed as regulatory or administrative, such as the Smithsonian Institution and the U.S. Mint.
• The Internal Revenue Service, which has 2,316 special agents, spent nearly $11 million on guns, ammunition and military-style equipment. That’s nearly $5,000 in gear for each agent.
• The Department of Veterans Affairs, which has 3,700 law-enforcement officers guarding and securing VA medical centers, spent $11.66 million. It spent more than $200,000 on night-vision equipment, $2.3 million for body armor, more than $2 million on guns, and $3.6 million for ammunition. The VA employed no officers with firearm authorization as recently as 1995.
• The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service spent $4.77 million purchasing shotguns, .308 caliber rifles, night-vision goggles, propane cannons, liquid explosives, pyro supplies, buckshot, LP gas cannons, drones, remote-control helicopters, thermal cameras, military waterproof thermal infrared scopes and more.
People from both ends of the political spectrum have expressed alarm at this trend. Conservatives argue that it is hypocritical, unconstitutional and costly for political leaders to undermine the Second Amendment while simultaneously equipping nonmilitary agencies with heavy weapons, hollow-point bullets and military-style equipment. Progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders have raised civil liberties concerns about the militarization of local police with vehicles built for war and other heavy weaponry.
Our data shows that the federal government has become a gun show that never adjourns. Taxpayers need to tell Washington that police powers belong primarily to cities and states, not the feds.
For more detail, check out the full report here: OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – The Militarization Of America.
Open the Books is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization focused on providing transparency in government.