NSSF: The Truth About Uncle Sam’s Ammo Purchases

Here’s the inside dope on recent rumors suggesting that the U.S. government is stocking-up on ammo to prepare for civil insurrection, via Larry Keane, Senior Vice President of the National Shooting Sports Foundation:

“Rumors about the federal government purchasing large quantities of ammunition, possibly for use against the American populace in case of civil unrest, have made their inevitable journey from postings and blogs on various Internet sites two weeks ago to phone calls to conservative talk radio programs more recently. Because rumors are usually based on a kernel of truth that is misconstrued, exaggerated and then propagated, let’s be very clear: There is nothing out of the ordinary going on . . .

“U.S. government procurement practices are baffling to begin with, as any federal contractor will tell you. All of them employ experienced specialists who spend countless hours just to do business with Uncle Sam.

“So, when complex purchasing process is combined with an eye-popping number of up to 450 million rounds of .40 caliber to be purchased over five years by the Department of Homeland Security for its array of agencies, added to lesser amounts sought by smaller agencies with law enforcement responsibilities, it seems to some that something nefarious must be brewing. As the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry, we want to get the facts out.

“Our members confirm what we are seeing is the normal functioning of the Feds’ procurement apparatus. When you do the math in the case of the DHS purchase, even the maximum purchase would add up to less than 1,400 round per year for all 65,000 DHS law enforcement personnel. That doesn’t seem outrageous considering training and qualification requirements.

“And you don’t just have to take our word for it. The NRA Institute for Legislative Action took on this rumor last week in a well done post. To its credit, the office of U.S. Representative Lynn Westmoreland, who is well respected for his support of the 2nd Amendment, looked into the issue and posted this helpful research.

“‘It behooves you to be watchful in your States as well as in the Federal Government,’ President Andrew Jackson said in his farewell address. We agree, but some perspective is also required. This particular rumor should be put to rest.”

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

53 Responses to NSSF: The Truth About Uncle Sam’s Ammo Purchases

  1. avatarJ. Nelson says:

    While I agree 1,400 round per office over 5 years isn’t really that much I’ve heard that this total is actually 5 times the amount that has traditionally been purchased. That is to say that’s what I’ve been hearing. But to be honest I’m not certain if this supposed increased takes into account the time period that these orders we’ll be accepted across. So for me, the jury is still out over that to think about this.

    • avatarFyrewerx says:

      And the Social Security Administration???

      • avatarBilly Wardlaw says:

        Exactly! This boiler-plate approved message fails to address why so many of the appropriations for ammunition are being made through and on the budgets of administrations that have no firearms or enforcement departments – the Social Security Administration and the National Weather Service. Yes they have agents, some of which might be armed, but the numbers still do not add up.

        • avatarRKflorida says:

          It’s not the National Weather Service which is part of the NOAA. It is another division of the NOAA, the Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement, basically game wardens or they arrest fish that misbehave or something.

        • avatarMark N. says:

          The Social Security Administration does have an enforcement division that investigates, who woulda guessed, SS fraud. And it turns out that the reference to the NWS was a mistake that has been corrected–it was for the National Marine Fisheries Service, which has enforcement authority over commercial fishermen.

        • You can lead the people to facts, but you can’t make them accept them. It’s much easier to cling on to conspiracy theories. And of course, why believe an official, who puts his name and reputation on a statement, when you have unsubstantiated, anonymous rumours.

          The fact remains that virtually ALL federal agencies and administrations have organic (as in “hired federal employees”, not “contracted” nor “grown without pesticides”) security personnel, and those are armed guards. Those firearams require ammunition for qualification, training and then carrying on the job.

          But what do I know, I’m just another government hack.

    • avatarMercutio says:

      I did the math when this first surfaced and came up with about 650 rounds per armed SSA type – about right for casual training purposes for a year… now as to why the SSA needs gunnies… deponent knoweth not.

  2. avatarPhydeaux says:

    I go through more than 1,400 rounds in 6 months. But then I take my concealed carry responsibility seriously.

  3. avatarPhil H says:

    Honestly, this paranoia gives our credibility quite a whack on the chin. Keeping an eye on our government is one thing, and expecting the national guard to roll through Idaho, like the Soviets crushing the Prague Spring, is another thing entirely. There have been isolated cases of overreaching by local, state, and federal authorities, and I suspect that there always will be. And we need to be vigilant to ensure that our civil liberties are not encroached upon by overzealous bureaucrats on a power trip. But, I think some of us need to drink less coffee or something, because it’s silly to think that the federal government is purchasing ammo because it believes some sort of civil insurrection is imminent. No offense intended. But, it’s silly. Good Lord. Obama can’t go to the john without someone leaking his leak. Do we really think that purchases like this, for this reason, could occur without someone making noise? And when did the government ever become proactive?

  4. avatarJames says:

    Sounds like a whitewash to me.

  5. avatarHunley says:

    People seem to forget that DHS operates the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) at Glynco, GA. They not only train federal LEOs, but state and local as well. When you factor in the number of local and state LEOs that go to FLETC, the number of rounds per shooter decreases dramatically.

    Then there are people up in arms about the Social Security Administration buying thousands of rounds of .357 Magnum ammo. Well, guess what? All those Social Security offices have armed guards. And yes, even the Social Security administration has Special Agents. So does Health and Human Services.

    I think the thing that makes these stories of ammo procurement so astonishing to people is that they just don’t know how big the government is…

    • avatarMike S says:

      Whoa! Easy with all that logic and reason! This is the internet!

    • avatarDaveL says:

      I think the thing that makes these stories of ammo procurement so astonishing to people is that they just don’t know how big the government is…

      This.

      I see these stories as the mirror-image of the “OMG! Gunman had thousands of rounds stockpiled!” stories in the mainstream media. Both depend on throwing out big numbers and hoping people don’t stop and think through how ammunition is bought and how it’s used.

      • avatarTotenglocke says:

        The difference being that the Government doesn’t have a very good track record of not finding a reason to use all of it’s ammo on some target.

  6. avatarJean Paul says:

    There’s another side to this—I understand that they need to acquire training ammo—but what a waste of taxpayers’ money it is to train with HP. Why can’t they buy FMJ for that?

    The SSA placed an order for .357 SIG ammo, not Magnum, I believe.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      “…what a waste of taxpayers’ money it is to train with HP. Why can’t they buy FMJ for that?”

      Because they train with what they carry.

      • avatarBob says:

        Because they don’t pay for it, they make us pay for it.

      • avatarJean Paul says:

        And there is absolutely no reason to do that. Once they determine their carry load is compatible with the carry gun, training with FMJ makes sense.

        They’re not snipers.

    • avatarMr. Bob says:

      +1
      I agree, FMJ would have been far more cost effective.
      Cost effective? Hmm……..
      Oh wait, I forgot we were talking about the Federal Government.
      Never mind.

  7. avatarmike marriam says:

    Perhaps the real concern should be that the DHS is maintaining a well armed standing army of 65000 individuals on US soil.

    • avatarMike S says:

      So….disband the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard?

      Look- I think DHS was a solution in search of a problem, and a giant waste of money…..but the LE Agencies that fall under it’s umbrella are, IMHO, a whole lot less likely to be in the business of finding reasons to lock Americans up over than ATF, DEA, IRS, etc.

    • avatarDaveL says:

      Well, there is the whole matter of the 2,000-mile border with Mexico, the 5,500-mile border with Canada, and the well-over 12,000 miles of coastline (Coast Guard falls under DHS, too).

      • avatarIdahoMan says:

        Except the Department of Fatherland Security doesn’t give a rat’s rear-end about securing the borders or stopping terrorists.

        That’s not why they were created.

    • avatarHunley says:

      Keep in mind that DHS is an umbrella organization. US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Patrol, FEMA, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, TSA, Coast Guard, Secret Service, and Federal Protective Services all fall under DHS.

      It isn’t like it’s a bunch of DHS SAs running around. It’s the SAs and security personnel from the organizations it absorbed after its formation that gives it that 65,000. And that number also includes the armed guards hired to protect the armed law enforcement officers…

      • avatarDaveL says:

        One thing I don’t get:

        Why do we have one agency that deals with Customs and Border Protection, one that deals with Citizenship and Immigration, and one for Immigration and Customs? Isn’t that redundant?

      • avatark126 says:

        CBP controls and patrols the border. CIS it about immigrants and benefits. ICE is the law enforcement side of immigration and customs issues. Each agency has a specific mission and area of control. Does it seem redundant? Sure, until you actually look closely at what they do.

        • avatarMoonshine7102 says:

          Right. ‘Cause having one agency handling everything that comes into or goes out of the country seems so, well, efficient. Can’t have any of that sh!t in government…

  8. avatarjwm says:

    time to give our tin foil hats a break people. the government isn’t going to crush the american people with handgun ammo. i buy ammo in bulk and if i had the budget of these agencies i’d buy a lot more bulk. time to take a break from alex jones.

  9. avatarSkyler says:

    Anything reported by infowars is of course going to be exaggerated and idiotic. They are the same conspiracy monger morons that think 9/11 was a Bush conspiracy.

  10. avatarTarrou (Joshua Grabow) says:

    Yurp, nothing to see here except federal bloat. Good looking out, things like this bear investigation, but I’m encouraged to see less of the “zomg black helicopter” zaniness that prevailed when I joined the movement back in the ’90s.

  11. avatarhowa says:

    So stupid.

    If you want to “attack” 300 million armed, entitled, aggressive, belligerent yankees, you do not do it with 40 calibre handguns.
    You can turn

    • avatarJean Paul says:

      You can use that .40 cal in SMGs, too, right?

    • avatarmike marriam says:

      Ya right. How long would it take the president to issue yet another executive order (if there isn’t one already) to “re-purpose” those disparate forces and for that matter expand their number. Plus the “tin foil hat guys” just got wind of the pistol ammo: maybe they already have all the rifle ammo they need.

    • avatarhomobangbangamus says:

      Try one little raid at a time, just like they’ve been doing all along or a coordinated set of raids that will be on going and of course misrepresented in the media.

      “300 million armed, entitled, aggressive, belligerent yankees…”

      If we had that many people who were armed and knew what was going on, we wouldn’t have any problems at all and you’d hear nothing but pro-gun stories in the media.

  12. avatarthe last Marine out says:

    Two items here first this is government spending that is total out of control. and without over sight by our congress, next this is more ammo than our military is buying at this time …. some heads need to roll big time … sorry i don’t accept that you buy hollow point ammo for range use… this big time lies. and at a time when the USA needs to get spending down … NO WAY is this correct… heads need to roll…!

    • avatark126 says:

      I’m sorry that you are having such a hard time with the concept of using duty ammo for training. It’s been that way at my agency for many years now. We have never used FMJ rounds for duty carry or training purposes unless you carried a backup weapon in 9mm. Back in the old days when we all carried revolvers, we would shoot lead wad cutters at the range because .357 ammo was expensive. That all stopped in the ninety’s when everyone transitioned over to semi-auto pistols in the .40 flavor. I’m telling you what standard practice is right now.

    • avatarDJ says:

      That was my thought, too. 1400 rounds is a lot. I don’t think guys in line infantry companies in the Army fired much more than that in a year during peacetime. Noncombat arms guys fired 60 rounds per year, if they were lucky. Hard to see how any LE agency needs a bigger ammo budget than an infantry unit.

      There are some real knuckleheads out there in both law enforcement and the military, but I still believe the majority would refuse to obey an unlawful order. So on that level, it really doesn’t matter. The people who work for those agencies are a good defense against misuse. Nobody loves any of the clowns in politics enough to start a civil war for them.

  13. avatarJoe says:

    You guys hear any chatter in you local gun stores about the decrease in availability of green tip 556/223? How about 5.7 ammo? It’s not the stories we read about in the media I worry about, it’s the ones that don’t reach the media that concerns me…

  14. avatarIdahoMan says:

    Department of FATHERLAND security…
    Heavily armed…
    Marines training police in urban combat and interrogation…

    If you have to ask what’s wrong, then you’ll never know.

  15. avatartdiinva says:

    Some of the responses I read here make me rethink my active participation in the discussion section. Fortunately, I am retiring if four weeks and will never have to get another backround investigation again so my association with a subset of the loonytoon will not be held against me in the future.

    If you read it on infowars, it’s bad science fiction and fantasy.

  16. avatarAgedWell says:

    ok, I will agree 1384 rounds per year for 5 years “may” not be excessive, but then please explain to me what the ADDITIONAL 750million rounds are for? That is an additional 2300 rounds per year.
    Either number implies that they practice/qualify FAR…FAR more then even our own military does. and 3600 rounds per year I might see in a professional competition shooter, but for 65,ooo federal agents??? Some of which have probably not shot except for the quailification times?????????????
    As for other Gov bodies having ammo and weapons, please explain why the Student loan needs 120 shotguns. In EVERY “raid” that I have heard about, the local police do the actual raid. So why the shotguns? Or is this more of a federales policia force that obama talked about? More and More departments of outr government seem to be getting more and more armed. Are they that afraid of the populous?

  17. avatarhomobangbangamus says:

    Believe them if you want to but everything in your being should be screaming at you not to.

    Trust your gut feelings -VS- Believe people who lie constantly

  18. avatarthe last Marine out says:

    The true fact is the USA is broke, about 16 plus trillion in the red, this amount can NEVER EVER be paid back, in fact we can not even print that much paper money, this a government that is total out of control,,, so they keep stocking up , buying 10 thousand AR rifles, look at ALL they are doing and none of it is sane….

  19. avatarSanchanim says:

    I think that is the real question here.
    If these agencies have made these levels of purchases over the past decade lets say than nothing unusual move along right?
    If we can see that this is an alarming increase I think we as the American public want to know why? If it because the agencies are training more? Is it because they have expanded their staff?
    In the case of NOAA for instance is it because they have more people located in isolated areas? It makes sense if there is reasoning behind it or if this is a normal level of purchase. Otherwise the rumor mill and tin hats will continue to scream about it.

    • avatartdiinva says:

      It has already been explained that fisheries police, basically game wardens, come under NOAA. Game wardens are LEOs and have full police powers, i.e., they can give you a traffic ticket or bust you for bank robbery.

  20. avatarbontai Joe says:

    So based on the apparent training of the NYPD, they must send a guy down to pick up 5 or 6 boxes of ammo maybe once or twice a year, right? LOL!

  21. avatarGR8 SCOTT! says:

    ** THX for the ‘GUARANTEE’, NSSF… NOT a Guarantee I think u’ll be ready to honor, tho, when the .40cal HP’s are flying at citizens under the guise of “authoritarianism”!!

    LESSON: DONT LET UR MOUTH WRITE A (very dangerous) CHECK UR @$$ CANT CASH!!!!!!!!!

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