WASHINGTON — Two Oklahoma lawmakers introduced a bill Friday that would put new limits on ammunition purchases by most federal departments.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, and Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, said they were seeking to prevent the federal government from stockpiling ammunition. Their bill would prohibit federal departments, except for the Defense Department, from buying ammunition if their supplies exceed the monthly averages before President Barack Obama took office in 2009.
The legislation also requires a report from the Government Accountability Office on how government purchases of ammunition affect the supply available to the public.
Inhofe said Obama, who pursued gun-control legislation for the first time this year, “has been adamant about curbing law-abiding Americans' access and opportunities to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
“One way the Obama administration is able to do this is by limiting what's available in the market with federal agencies purchasing unnecessary stockpiles of ammunition.”
Inhofe said the bill would “enforce transparency and accountability of federal agencies' ammunition supply while also protecting law-abiding citizens' access to these resources.”
Lucas said he had heard from his constituents that there was a shortage of ammunition in Oklahoma. He said federal purchases should be curtailed “so Americans can exercise their Second Amendment rights without being encumbered by the federal government.”
“I was surprised to find out the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) has the right to buy up to 750 million rounds of ammunition over the next five years, while it already has two years worth of ammo already,” Lucas said.
Agency official testifies at hearing
At a U.S. House subcommittee hearing on Thursday, a Department of Homeland Security official testified that the department had more than 246 million rounds of ammunition in its inventory on April 15 — more than twice as much as it plans to use this year.
Nick Nayak, the top purchasing official for the Department of Homeland Security, said the department has 72,000 federal agents and officers that carry one or more firearms in the line of duty.
Those include border patrol agents, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers, Secret Service Agents, Uniformed Division Officers, Physical Security Specialists, Federal Air Marshals, Federal Protective Service Officers and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, he said.
Those civilian officers and agents are required to qualify four times a year with their weapon, Nayak said.
In addition to the civilians, more than 41,000 members of the U.S. Coast Guard train with and carry firearms; and the department has four law enforcement training sites that provide ammunition for more than 70,000 federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement personnel every year, Nayak said.
The amount of purchased by the department has remained relatively constant compared with its employee base since 2006, Nayak said.
“On average, over the last three fiscal years, DHS procured approximately 120 million rounds of ammunition per year of all calibers and types and fired approximately the same number of rounds per year, almost exclusively for training purposes,” Nayak said.
“In Fiscal Year 2012, for example, DHS estimates that it procured just over 100 million rounds, and we anticipate the purchase and use of ammunition in the current fiscal year to be similar to previous years.”