On Wednesday, the House approved an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spending bill for 2014 that would require the DHS to provide comprehensive reports to Congress on the agency’s need for ammo and its relative costs before making bulk purchases.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) proposed the amendment to H.R. 2217, Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2014, as way to bring transparency to an agency that’s been accused of purposely stockpiling ammo as a way to short the marketplace, thus making it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
“Over the past year, many questions have been raised about vast purchases of ammunition by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS),” Meadows said in a statement. “Earlier this year, we learned that DHS solicited bids for 1.1 billion rounds of ammunition. This is more than ten times the amount that the department purchased in fiscal year 2012. Given current inventory, DHS has nearly 4,000 rounds for each employee trained and certified in firearms use.”
“Prior to committing taxpayer dollars for ammunition contracts, we must ensure that government agencies justify the necessity and cost to both Congress and the American people,” he continued.
The House successfully added the amendment by a vote of 234-192, mostly along party lines with only 18 Democrats supporting the measure and 13 Republicans opposing it.
Critics of the amendment believe it’s unnecessary and that allegations that the DHS is hoarding ammo as a way to manipulate the market and subvert Americans’s right to keep and bear arms are overblown.
Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) told The Hill that the amendment was “unnecessary” based on his talks with DHS officials (for an explanation of how the DHS’s justifies its ammo “needs,” click here). Carter further argued that the “department has since admitted that its ammunition needs are not as great as first reported,” and said the department is pursuing a bulk purchase to keep the costs down.
Carter also said that the language of the amendment, which calls for reports to Congress on “all contracting practices applied by the Department of Homeland Security to procure ammunition,” including inventory on hand and the number of rounds used and purchased on a quarterly basis, plus the “the ammunition type, the purpose of such usage, the average number of rounds used per agent or officer,” would interrupt the DHS’s ability to readily purchase ammo.
Meanwhile, some supporters of the bill claim that the amendment is just the beginning with respect to placing restrictions on the DHS’s ammo purchasing.
“The AMMO Act sets specific limits on the quantity of ammunition that can be purchased by each covered federal agency, while this bill only prohibits further purchase contracts by this one Department until it reports to Congress,” Bridenstine said in a statement.
Now the whole DHS 2014 appropriations bill will head to the Senate for consideration. It’ll be interesting to see if/how the Democratically-controlled Senate tinkers with Meadows’ ammo amendment. Will it try to water down the DHS reporting requirements with respect to ammo purchases or attempt to scrap the amendment altogether?
We’ll have to wait and see.