What you should know about the government's purchase of ammo

By Josh Furlong | Posted - Apr 10th, 2013 @ 2:37pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Department of Homeland Security plans to purchase more than 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition in the coming years, eliciting fear among many Americans that a government uprising is the next logical step.

The large purchase over the next four or five years is an effort to secure ammunition to train law enforcement officials, according to the Associated Press.

Some argue, though, the government is purchasing the ammunition to win the "arms race" and to prepare for civil unrest. The claims, however, are unfounded. Here are some things you should know about the government's ammunition purchase.

DHS has requested 1.6 billion rounds of ammo

The Department of Homeland Security issued a request for quotes on various types of ammunition totalling approximately 1.6 billion rounds. The ammunition would be purchased over the course of four or five years for the training of their agents and other law enforcement agencies.

What the DHS is doing is called "strategic sourcing contracts," which allows the government to make large purchases for a lower price. Training centers run by the DHS use approximately 15 million rounds every year on shooting ranges and in training exercises, according to Peggy Dixon, spokeswoman for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.


The DHS can purchase up to 750 million rounds of ammunition over the next five years as thousands of law enforcement officials will be trained. The remaining ammunition of the 1.6 billion will be purchased by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ICE requested the following last year:

  • 450 million rounds of .40-caliber duty ammunition
  • 40 million rounds of rifle ammunition a year for as many as five years
  • 176,000 rifle rounds on a separate contract
  • 25,000 blank rounds

Purchase of hollow-point ammunition

The Social Security Administration requested a quote for 176,000 rounds of hollow-point ammunition — ammunition that is meant to expand and do more damage once it hits its target. While not illegal in the United States, many have questioned the need for members of the SSA to use such ammunition.

OIG's special agents use this ammunition during their mandatory quarterly firearms qualifications and other training sessions, to ensure agent and public safety.

–OIG response

However, many law-enforcement agencies use hollow-point ammunition, including field agents working for the SSA in the Office of Investigation. These criminal and special agents investigate violations of the law in 66 offices around the U.S. and are similar to state law enforcement. The ammunition in question is intended to supply approximately 300 special agents who work for the SSA's Office of the Inspector General.

"Media reports expressed concerns over the type of ammunition ordered," the OIG's website states. "In fact, this type of ammunition is standard issue for many law enforcement agencies. OIG's special agents use this ammunition during their mandatory quarterly firearms qualifications and other training sessions, to ensure agent and public safety. Additionally, the ammunition our agents use is the same type at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center."

The OIG contends that its agents need to be armed and trained properly to safely investigate Social Security fraud.

Tanks purchased

Included in the discussion of the government purchasing ammunition is that the DHS purchased 2,700 tanks to be used in the U.S. The government, however, did not purchase tanks but hired a contractor to install new chassis on several Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, which are used in the U.S. forRapid Response Teams dispatched to disaster sites. The vehicles are primarily used overseas to protect against improvised explosive device attacks and ambushes.

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