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Will the Great Ammo Shortage Get Worse as the IRS Buys Bullets?

Federal Ammo
Federal Ammo. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

There are growing concerns that the country could face another “Great Ammunition” shortage (if it even ended?), and those fears are being stoked by the recent news that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was seeking to spend $700,000 on ammunition for use by some of its enforcement officers.

On July 1, Republican lawmakers went so far as to introduce the “Disarm the IRS Act,” which would prohibit the government’s tax collecting agency from acquiring ammunition. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) and Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), with the latter lawmaker taking to social media to question why the IRS has “stockpiled” ammunition in the first place.

“Biden wants to disarm Americans & arm the IRS. In this year alone, the Biden IRS has stockpiled $725K+ in ammo as Americans face a shortage. Why is Biden trying to weaponize the IRS? This is why I cosponsored the ‘Disarm the IRS Act,’ to prohibit the IRS from purchasing ammo,” Rep. Duncan (@RepJeffDuncan) tweeted.

Rep. Gaetz has been particularly vocal regarding the fact that the IRS, Railroad Retirement Board, and other federal agencies have made such large purchases of ammunition.

“Call me old-fashioned, but I thought the heaviest artillery an IRS agent would need would be a calculator. I imagine the IRS in green eyeshades and cubicles — not busting doors down and emptying Glock clips on our fellow Americans,” Gaetz told Fox News earlier this month, adding, “Certainly it’s troubling that in 2022 alone, the IRS has spent around $725,000 on ammunition. So here’s the Biden plan: Disarm Americans, open the border, empty the prisons — but rest assured, they’ll still collect your taxes, and they need $725,000 worth of ammunition, apparently, to get the job done.”

2018 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the IRS has actually been “stockpiling” ammunition and even small arms for several years. The report found that the agency had some 4,487 firearms, and in excess of five million rounds of ammunition. It remains unclear how many of those firearms have been issued to agents.

Fact Checked

The fact check website VERIFY confirmed that between March 1 and June 1 of this year, the IRS did order $696,000 in ammunition. However, it is important to note that the order was placed by the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) division, which is a federal law enforcement agency. It regularly conducts criminal investigations including tax violations, money laundering, cyber crimes, and organized crime involving drugs and gangs.

There are currently more than 2,000 sworn special agents in the division, and these aren’t the individuals who conduct audits.

“Many of these cases are typically worked in conjunction with other state and federal law enforcement agencies. IRS-CI special agents have been carrying firearms throughout the more than 100-year history of the agency, and have found themselves dealing with some of the most dangerous criminals,” an IRS spokesperson told VERIFY.

Biden wants to disarm Americans & arm the IRS. In this year alone, the Biden IRS has stockpiled $725K+ in ammo as Americans face a shortage. Why is Biden trying to weaponize the IRS? This is why I cosponsored the “Disarm the IRS Act,” to prohibit the IRS from purchasing ammo.

— Rep. Jeff Duncan (@RepJeffDuncan) July 7, 2022

It should be noted that it was treasury agents who successfully arrested such noted gangsters as Al Capone and Mickey Cohen.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which is responsible for conducting investigations of misconduct or fraud within the IRS, had spent an average of $250,625 a year on ammunition from 2010 through 2017. By contrast, the U.S. Marshals Service spent an average of nearly $3.2 million annually on ammunition during that same time period, VERIFY reported.

In fairness to the IRS, it isn’t exactly secretive about the fact that some in the IRS-CI division carry firearms. According to its official website, “Investigative equipment includes, but is not limited to the following: fleet vehicles, surveillance vehicles, radio communication equipment, firearms, body armor, electronic surveillance equipment, audio and video equipment, cameras and lenses, night vision equipment, optical equipment, STU equipment, enforcement belt and wallet badges, CI pocket commissions, microfilm reader printers, use of force padded training suits, and firearms training systems.”

In addition, per IRS policy, “While on official business, special agents will not carry weapons or use ammunition other than that furnished by the IRS.”

The Glock Models 22, 23, and 27 .40 caliber semiautomatic pistols are currently the standard issued weapons for IRS-CI special agents, who are issued one of those firearms on a permanent basis. Agents retain their assigned weapon during their entire career unless the weapon is recalled for repair or replacement.

As with most government contracts, ammunition for law enforcement is bought in bulk and replenished when supplies are low. Law enforcement agencies across the country have faced many of the same shortages as the civilian market during the pandemic, so it actually could make sense that they would seek to stock up again.

A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. jeff

    July 21, 2022 at 8:02 pm

    Five million rounds of ammunition? And they call it an arsenal when some redneck like me has a few hundred.

  2. Paddy Manning

    July 23, 2022 at 3:31 pm

    The incoming 2024 GOP administration should strip the IRS of weaponry. There’s no reason whatsoever to have tax collectors armed.

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