Good question. I guess it's because I look at any power grab at any level of government as an affront to individual liberty. If there is a real need for an armed federal bureaucracy, why don't we know about it? Why aren't Senators and Representatives involved in legislation to authorize it? What enemies are the agencies preparing to engage and destroy? Will free speech be free?
The power of bureaucracy is growing at every level of government. It doesn't happen without the aquesience of politicians who take advantage of the bureaucratic structure to further their own goals and projects. The public is loathe to give up their favorite programs, but feels the weight of big government. There are parallels here to states and cities. Big government can be measured by number of pages of regulations, and number of employees per capita. Lake Oswego has plenty of each.
Who does government work for? Who are its enemies?
Why Does The IRS Need Guns?
After grabbing legal power, bureaucrats are amassing firepower. It’s time to scale back the federal arsenal.
Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2016. By Tom Coburn and Andrew Andrjejewski
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.
Some examples of spending from 2005 through 2014 raise the question: Who are they preparing to battle?
(Excluded here: a list of agencies that have armed their personnel with military--style weapons: EPA, FDA, IRS, DVA, Universities.) I included my favorite example below.
- 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.
Meanwhile, federal authorities are silent on the growing arsenal at federal agencies. In fact, we asked the IRS for an asset accounting of their gun locker—their guns and ammunition asset inventory by location. Their response? “We don’t have one [an inventory], but could create one for you, if important.”
Dr. Coburn is a physician and former U.S. senator from Oklahoma. He is the honorary chairman, and Mr. Andrzejewski is the founder and CEO, of OpenTheBooks.com, a repository of public-spending records.