Newsmax reported on the USDA buying submachine guns.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking to buy submachine guns — but isn't saying why it needs them.

According to a solicitation filed on May 7, the department has a detailed list of specifications for its "commercial acquisition of submachine guns."

Later, it mentioned

The USDA isn't the only federal agency to seek weapons or ammunition in recent months.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Postal Service joined the list of federal agencies seeking to purchase what some Second Amendment activists say are alarmingly large quantities of ammunition.

Is there any evidence that the rate of ammunition purchases by the US government for 2014 is higher than previous years without explicit justification?

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    @Chad I'm quoting a Newsmax article from May 2014. That question was more than a year earlier, and the claims are different. My question specifically addresses the past few months, so it's not even the same scope as the other one.
    – ike
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 19:26
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    @SeanDuggan - if the USDA agent needs an assault rifle, he's not doing his job. He's doing a Sheriff's (or other LEO) job.
    – user5341
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 20:35
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    @DVK: That's inaccurate. For example, the USDA includes the Forest Service, which administers a huge amount of federal land and has a law enforcement unit (like rangers) to enforce the law there. They are sworn LEOs and carrying weapons is precisely their job. Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 23:10
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    @Oddthinking - At which point it is a duplicate of the question I asked earlier last year
    – Chad
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 13:38

1 Answer 1


The U.S. Government Accountability Office examined this question and found that, no, acquisition of ammunition by government agencies is not increasing.

The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) annual ammunition purchases have declined since fiscal year 2009 and are comparable in number to the Department of Justice's (DOJ) ammunition purchases. In fiscal year 2013, DHS purchased 84 million rounds of ammunition, which is less than DHS's ammunition purchases over the past 5 fiscal years....

While this report focuses primarily on the Department of Homeland Security, a comparison to the ammunition acquisitions made by the Department of Justice is made on page 23 of the report (page 28 of the PDF).


Regarding justification: "justified" is, of course, subjective. But I will include some context. According to the above-linked GAO report:

DHS's ammunition purchases over the 6-year period equates to an average of 1,200 rounds purchased per firearm-carrying agent or officer per year.

Firearm training classes in the U.S., such as those offered by Alias Security, Combat Shooting and Tactics, or Costa Ludus, can use anywhere from 200 to 600 rounds in a full day's worth of training (look at the course descriptions at each of the links above - they will include a "round count" so that students know how much ammunition to bring to class).

So, if agents attended a day-long class that used 300 rounds of ammunition per day, they would be able to spend four days a year with their firearms training.

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    Two government agencies' purchases are not increasing. The whole governments' purchases may be increasing, though.
    – ike
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 21:59
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    What about the Department of Defense? I'd think they'd want a lot of ammunition.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 22:17
  • This does not address the actual point of the question, which is ammunition and weapons acquisition by federal agencies whose officers are usually not associated with carrying firearms, like the department of agriculture or the postal service.
    – Philipp
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 15:53
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    @Philipp The US Postal Service has the Postal Inspection Service, with around 2000 sworn/armed personnel. The USPIS pre-dates the US Constitution. So define "not associated with carrying firearms."
    – Chance
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 20:55
  • @Chance I wasn't aware of that, but when that's the case why don't you post some information about how much weapons and ammunition they are buying and whether or not it's justified for the number of people they have armed?
    – Philipp
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 21:02

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