The Department of Homeland Security denied allegations Thursday that it is purchasing a “massive” amount of ammunition in an effort to make it unavailable to private citizens.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told a hearing at Capitol Hill that the DHS is using about 1,000 rounds of ammunition more per person that the U.S. Army. He said the DHS currently has over 260 million rounds in stock.
At the hearing, DHS training officer Humberto Medina said the ammunition was purchased for operations and training purchases. As far as stockpiling ammunition to keep it out of the hands of private citizens, Medina said he could "say categorically that was not a factor at all" in the purchases. He said the DHS keeps an ammunition reserve because of past issues with vendors and market fluctuations.
The Associated Press reported in February that the DHS planned to buy over 1.6 billion rounds over the next five years. However, after concerns were raised about government stockpiling, DHS officials explained that they were only buying up to 750 million rounds.
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Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., still regarded the amount as outrageous. "The idea that you have to have excess rounds, year after year, flies in the face of common sense," Issa said.
Chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa suspects the rounds are being stockpiled and then “disposed of,” given to non-federal agencies, or shot “indiscriminately.”
Chaffetz said the DHS bought more than 103 million rounds in 2012, while its roughly 70,000 agents used 116 million that year.
"Their officers use what seems to be an exorbitant amount of ammunition," he said.
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That’s about 1,300 to 1,600 rounds per officer, he said, compared to just 350 rounds per soldier in the U.S. Army.
"It is entirely ... inexplicable why the Department of Homeland Security needs so much ammunition,” he said.
At the opening of the hearing, Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., ridiculed Republican concerns as “conspiracy theories” which have “no place” in the committee room.
Republicans said the purchases also raised concerns about waste and accountability.
"This is not about conspiracy theories, this is about good government," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said.
Nick Nayak, chief procurement officer for the Department of Homeland Security, said the department buys about 100 million rounds per year and denied that these purchase were leading to a shortage of ammunition in the U.S.