Social Security Admin. orders 174,000 rounds of ammo
And its answer, that it must supply and train 295 special agents, raises questions of its own.
I think many agencies view having their own law enforcement, not to mention a SWAT team, as matter of prestige. A JP in New Mexico once issued a number of search warrants for food stamp fraud cases. Next morning he found the town overrun with Dept of Agriculture SWAT teams, taking down people that he knew would have turned themselves in if given a phone call. Overhead was a helicopter full of armed guys. But there was nowhere to land it ... too many telephone lines. He asked an agent and was told it would just hover there for a while and then fly back to the airport. It was only there because Congress had started asking why the agency had a helo and never used it.
UPDATE: I'd agree that there are thousands of federal buildings that need some entrance security, and that those folks ought to be adequately training. But in my experience, Federal buildings are not guarded by employees of the agency involved, if only because (apart from major HQ buildings) most federal buildings combine several agencies. They are guarded by Federal Protective Service, which is part of DHS. This might explain DHS's large purchases, but not that of other departments.
I can remember when Interior was protected by private agencies, with unarmed employees, and no metal detectors. When there was an alert they looked in your briefcase, and ladies' purses, but never under overcoats. I thought Interior did not want to face the grim fact that no terrorist would think it worth attacking. What are they going to knock out, the environmental law division of the Park Service, or the migratory bird hunting division of Fish and Wildlife, or screw up FOIA response by taking out the Division of General Law?
DHS (the home of TSA) just ordered over a MILLION rounds.
Add that to the unexpended rounds from prior years and they probably have more than 2 million on hand. WHO are they going to war with?
Posted by: Law Prof at August 18, 2012 04:10 PM
Speculation I've read elsewhere recently on other peculiar ammo orders (one sent to the National Weather Service?) is that it's end-of-fiscal-year spending to use up money not spent otherwise. A traditional activity for federal agencies/offices/units of all size for decades if not centuries. (I saw it in our Air Force base legal office in the late '60s - one of the NCOs would come around asking if we could use any more pens/pads/paper clips/typewriter ribbons because we had a budget to use up.)
Posted by: wrangler5 at August 18, 2012 05:06 PM
Law Prof: According to the solicitation I read, it's Indefinite Quantity, Indefinite Delivery (IQ/ID). As few as 1,000 rounds per year per contract, as many as 70 million for all contracts for the 5 years maximum length.
As for "going to war", the biggest quantities by a lot are for .357 SIG and .40 S&W handgun ammo. Not the sort of stuff they'd want for a "war", I would think.
Posted by: Harold at August 18, 2012 05:45 PM
The tin foil hat Alex Jones website is the one that got this stirred up, much to do about nothing.
Posted by: Jim K at August 19, 2012 04:10 AM
On hearing that I just bought a case (1000 rounds) of 357 SIG, a non-shooting acquaintance asked why I "needed so much".
Posted by: Max at August 19, 2012 12:15 PM
The large amounts of sidearm ammo being ordered by various federal agencies is actually pretty easily explained. Security guards at various federal agencies have been required to be qualified with sidearms and said sidearms to be available to to be issued to the guards as the situation justifies. That requirement has been around at least since the 70s. The funding to actually train these guards to a decent level of proficiency with their firearms has rarely been achieved. Ballpark it at about 1000 rounds per years per person needing to train and qualify at a decent level of skill.
But with the recent upgrades in paranoia at federal facilities, funds for security things, including ammo for training and proficency, is now available. So, that 250 thousand rounds, that is about right for only 250 armed security guards for a year. Also recall that each guard post manned 7x24 needs three full time and three part time persons to cover all the shifts, before you even consider vacation time, training time, and sick time that has to be covered.
So, one large office complex with armed or potentially armed guards. Has a main entrance post, a roving post, and a side entrance post manned 24x7. Monday to friday, normal working hours, add the loading dock post, another roving post, another couple of doors, and a supervisor to keep track of the paperwork and training. I've got nine or so full timers, and a couple more part timers. So there is 12-15 thousand rounds of ammo just for annual training for one office building. Do you have any idea just how many office buildings the federal government has? I don't know, but I'm pretty sure that the number is at least a four digit one.
Posted by: Dale at August 19, 2012 08:26 PM
The amount of ammo being bought by federal mall ninjas seems to be business as usual to me. It has nothing to do with arming up for a coup or whatever the tinfoil hat brigade is imagining... It is all about the money.
The issues I have with it are:
1) Anyone in the private sector spending their own money would use lower cost ammo for training. The Feds don't care about the cost since they are spending *my* money.
2) Who are these companies winning the bids? I buy a *lot* of ammo and I have never heard of them. They appear to exist solely to exploit the byzantine federal patronage system...
Posted by: Brian at August 20, 2012 07:21 AM
Went to the Gun Show this weekend and made sure all the Ammo Vendors knew that, "According to the US Weather Service, the standard annual training compliment of ammunition is 10,000 rounds per person per platform."
I recommended they print up banners so stating and promote it heavily along with the idea that if government is granted powers from the People, the People cannot grant powers they do not possess. Therefore, if the USWS thinks that 10K/person/platform/year is the standard compliment, then they get that idea from us.
Posted by: Jim D. at August 20, 2012 10:16 AM
That’s funny, given the current state that finance is in for the US Government. Not that I’m saying I’m surprised surplus budget isn’t put towards next year’s spending, but it would be kind of nice.
Posted by: Sarah at August 20, 2012 10:48 AM
"According to the US Weather Service, the standard annual training compliment of ammunition is 10,000 rounds per person per platform."
But it's not the NWS, and the Fish Police's budget is very roughly 700/person/year, including instructors who shoot more than a front line officer.
Posted by: Harold at August 21, 2012 06:42 AM
Well most federal building security is done by contract guards. The FPS inspectors oversee them.
As to the training ammo versus duty ammo arguement, different bullet shapes (e.g. FMJ,JHP) and power types and loads confer different ballistic profiles. This means that zeros change when you change ammunition types. Generally you want to train with the same ammo that will be carried on duty.
Posted by: ParatrooperJJ at August 21, 2012 10:38 AM
Harold, I understood from the source (not linked in the article, let me look for the cite) that the purchase used remaining funds for a contingent 1-month supply.
Posted by: Jim D. at August 21, 2012 11:23 AM
Jim D.: elsewhere I've noted that if you do the math, the Fish Police's solicitation of 46,000 rounds is exactly 900 short of 1/2 their very rough budget of 700 rounds/per person/per year.
Maybe they're using end of Federal fiscal year money, maybe they want to do now instead of with next fiscal year's money because they see the prices continuing to going up through at least the November election; still, all in all, it sure sounds like a normal purchase.
Posted by: Harold at August 22, 2012 06:42 AM