Those who are vexed that the state is stocking up on ammunition — and troubled by fears that this might be a step toward D.C.’s assault on the citizens for whom it works — can relax for now. Whatever the federal government has become, it is not yet plotting violence against the people.
Nonetheless, one could reasonably ask why the Social Security Administration would need any ammunition at all. Are the elderly especially unruly these days? Jonathan L. Lasher, in the SSA’s external-relations department, explained to the Huffington Post that the ammunition is “for the 295 agents” in the outfit’s office of inspector general “who investigate Social Security fraud and other crimes.” Divide the rounds by the number of agents, and you get about 590 per agent; in a given year, that’s about ten rounds a week. “Most will be expended on the firing range,” Lasher continued.
Okay. And why does the USDA need 320,000 rounds? Because it runs the Forest Service, which covers “155 national forests” and “20 national grasslands” on a total of “193 million acres of land.” As well as agents in the field, the outfit has a law-enforcement unit based in Washington, D.C., whose responsibility it is to enforce federal laws and regulations. In context, those 320,000 rounds look a lot less threatening: If the U.S. Forest Service were to distribute ammunition at the same rate as the Social Security Administration, they would have enough for just 542 agents — not bad for an organization that covers an area the size of Pakistan (or twice the size of Japan or Germany).