Report: More armed bureaucrats than U.S. Marines
With all of the talk about curtailing, or even eliminating, the right of private citizens to own firearms, few have discussed the ever-expanding practice of arming federal employees. According to this Forbes piece, there are more now armed bureaucrats than there are U.S. Marines:
The number of non-military federal officers with arrest and firearm authority (200,000+) now exceeds the number of U.S. Marines (182,000). Spending on guns, ammo and military-style equipment at 67 federal agencies – including 53 regulatory, administrative agencies amounted to $1.48 billion between 2006-2014.
The IRS gun-locker is an example of this growing federal firepower. Nearly $11 million was spent on guns, ammo and military-style equipment for 2,316 ‘special agents’ during this period. The IRS stockpile includes pump-action and semi-automatic shotguns with buckshot and slugs; and semi-automatic AR-15 rifles (S&W M&P 15) and military-style H&K 416 rifles.
All of which is rather incredible...and may be a sign the IRS has watched "The Untouchables" far too many times.
But there's more:
At Health and Human Services (HHS), it’s also unclear just how many ‘special agents’ are currently employed. Yet, research uncovered a multi-million-dollar program for HHS ‘Office of Inspector General Special Agents’ that used a sophisticated military-style weapons platform with Special Forces contractors training the agents on domestic special operations.
Today, HHS is operating from a brand new “National Training Operations Center” within the Washington, D.C. area they describe as “an operational readiness, emergency response, crisis room and command post for HHS headquarters and staff.” That’s serious business for an agency supposedly preoccupied with “health” matters.
Across the federal government, we low-balled our estimates. Another reason our numbers may be low is many federal employees are not officially counted within the scope of federal audits. Other agencies operate under different laws and rules that obscure or conceal their weapons caches.
For example, by law, any Department of Agriculture (USDA) employee can carry a gun for self-protection in the performance of official duties. It’s unclear as to how many USDA employees are armed. However, at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), a spokesperson confirmed that over 1,500 employees are authorized to carry a firearm.
In 1996, at the Department of Veterans Affairs, there were zero employees with firearm and arrest authorization. Today, a spokesman admits to 3,700 police officers guarding and securing VA medical centers. Our data shows that the VA spent $11.66 million on guns, ammo and military-style equipment. Specifically, the VA spent more than $3.6 million on ammunition, $2 million on guns, $2.3 million on body armor, and $200,000 on night-vision equipment.
We are sure there are studies, memos, white papers, and meeting notes all justifying the arms build-up. And there is little doubt that some federal workers jobs' require them to be armed, either because they provide security, or are directly involved in law enforcement.
But more than 200,000 armed bureaucrats? That's incredible.
You can read the entire report on this topic here at Open The Books. And make sure to bookmark the site -- OTB is a fantastic government watchdog, anyone interested in transparency and accountability should follow their work closely.