So, why is the USDA requesting to buy submachine guns?

Yep. That’s a thing, according to a report from Breitbart:

A May 7th solicitation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeks “the commercial acquisition of submachine guns [in] .40 Cal. S&W.”

According to the solicitation, the Dept. of Agriculture wants the guns to have an “ambidextrous safety, semiautomatic or 2 round [bursts] trigger group, Tritium night sights front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore group) and scope (top rear), stock collapsible or folding,” and a “30 rd. capacity” magazine.

They also want the submachine guns to have a “sling,” be “lightweight,” and have an “oversized trigger guard for gloved operation.”

The solicitation is from the USDA’s Office of Inspector General, and another of their solicitations submitted on the same day (May 7th) is looking for the “commerical acquisition of ballist vests, compliant with NIJ 0101.06 for Level IIIA Ballistic Resistance of body armor… Body armor is gender specific, lightweight, trauma plate/pad (hard or soft), concealable carrier, tactical vest, undergarment (white), identification patches, accessories (6 pouches), body armor carry bag, and professional measurements.”

I might mention that I find it rather galling that an administration that would prefer to remove “high-capacity” gun magazines from the reach of the common citizen also sees fit to equip one of its most innocuous of bureaucratic arms with what it also deems “military-style weapons,” not to mention the monetary expense to taxpayers — but this apparently is not a new thing (a bunch of various IG offices employ armed special agents with law enforcement powers), and as Matt Welch at Reason aptly notes:

So how did an internal government watchdog turn into an external projection of U.S. power against its own citizens? Because of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which amended the IG Act to grant inspectors “full law enforcement authority to carry firearms, make arrests and execute search warrants.” The law was sponsored by then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), passed with a heavily Republican majority (207-10 in favor, versus 88-110 among Democrats), passed overwhelmingly in the Senate (90-9, with no Republicans voting against), and then signed into law by President George W. Bush. The blunt truth is that after 9/11, a vast majority of elected conservatives want to arm the bejeebus out of the feds, with little or no deliberation about long-term consequences.

Here’s the USDA’s justification, via Politico:

USDA responded to POLITICO by explaining that there are more than 100 agents employed by the law enforcement division of the department’s Office of the Inspector General who carry such weapons because they are involved in the investigation of criminal activities, including fraud, theft of government property, bribery, extortion, smuggling and assaults on employees. From fiscal 2012 through March 2014, OIG investigations pertaining to USDA operations have netted more than 2,000 indictments, 1,350 convictions and over $460 million in monetary results, the OIG told POLITICO in a subsequent email.

Machine guns, though? What the heck is that about? I must say, though, that I’m pretty much with Matt Welch on this one — if the GOP is genuinely interested in walking back some of the federal government’s police powers that the party largely granted, it’s time to get to drafting some legislation to reverse the 2002 amendment and presenting their money-saving and state-slimming case. I’d be interested to know how the Obama administration would receive such tidings.