AmmoGAO investigates DHS ammo purchases

Published 2 May 2013

DHS is again facing questions about the department’s large ammunition purchases, at the same time that a bill is being introduced which would limit the amount of ammo a government agency can legally buy.

DHS faces another round of questions about purchases // Source:

DHS is  again facing questions about the department’s large ammunition purchases, at the same time that  a bill is being introduced which  would limit the amount of ammo a government agency can legally buy.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is now investigating ammo purchases by DHS. The investigation is “just getting underway,” says GAO spokesman Chuck Young. reports that  members of Congress say DHS, on several occasions,  refused to explain the purpose behind the large purchases.

“They have no answer for that question,” Representative Timothy Huelscamp (R-Kansas) told Infowars in March, pointing out that the purchases are being made at a time when sequestration should be limiting the agency’s spending. “…We’re going to find out… I say we don’t fund them until we get an answer.”

DHS says the purchases were made in bulk in an effort to save money, but gun experts say that hollow point rounds cost twice as much as full metal jacket rounds. Some critics of DHS purchase argued that the rounds also explode on impact, leading some of them to ask why DHS needs to buy these specialized rounds (in fact, experts point out that hollow point rounds do not explode on impact, but rather expand on contact, providing more effective stopping power. Also, the hollow point round is not a “specialized round,” and are standard ammunition of law enforcement agencies in the United States). 

DHS officials testified in late March that the agency was planning on buying up to 750 million rounds to be used in its training facilities over the next five years. Department’s agents and officers from other  law enforcement agencies use these facilities as shooting ranges.  DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard said that the media reports which cited a purchase of more than one billion rounds were false, but Boogaard also referred to a second five-year contract for up to 450 million more rounds for law enforcement.

DHS officials have denied stockpiling ammunition, but the Associated Press reports that the agency will buy more than 1.6 billion bullets over the next four or five years. The report says that DHS has already purchased 360,000 rounds of hallow point bullets, and 1.5 billion standard rounds, in 2012. 

The GAO started the investigation because it felt that the agency did not provide an adequate explanation for the ammo purchases. The new legislation, known as the AMMO Act, which was introduced in both the Senate and the House last week, would restrict government agencies from buying anymore bullets if their ammo reserves are already larger than what they were in previous presidential administrations.

Supporters of the bill say government agencies are making the purchase simply to keep Americans from buying ammunition in an effort to reduce gun violence.

“President Obama has been adamant about curbing law-abiding Americans’ access and opportunities to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), who introduced the bill, said in a news 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… [DHS] 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.”