The alphabet soup of federal agencies routinely wastes money on ridiculous studies, failed military equipment, foreign “aid,” and, of course, dead people.

But this kind of waste is even more troubling.

Government watchdog Open the Books recently released a report detailing the thousands of firearms and millions of rounds of ammunition purchased by federal agencies with no apparent military or armed law enforcement function.

It’s totally unclear why the pencil pushers at these agencies need sophisticated military equipment. I get that some very special agents might require sidearms to protect themselves on certain assignments. But why on earth do they need automatic weapons and submachine guns? Does NASA expect an alien invasion? Does the Social Security Administration need 800,000 rounds to cut checks to retired Americans?

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Here are just a few of the highlights from the report.

  • There are more non-DOD federal employees with firearms (200,000+) than there are U.S. Marines (186,000).
  • The Internal Revenue Service has 2,159 “Special Agents” and spent $21.3 million on guns, ammunition and military-style equipment between fiscal years 2006 and 2019. The agency stockpiled 4,500 guns and five million rounds of ammunition.
  • The Office of Inspector General at HHS owns 1,300 guns including one shotgun, five submachine guns, and 189 automatic firearms. Over the last eight years, the HHS has purchased four million rounds of ammunition.
  • The Social Security Administration has a stockpile of 800,000 rounds of ammunition.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency just spent $61,650 purchasing “body armor systems” for 137 special agents. Their gun locker includes 867,000 rounds of ammunition and 600 guns.

This kind of nonsense sparks some understandable concern, but I don’t think the EPA is planning an armed takeover of the federal government. The real reason these agencies purchase firearms is much more mundane—and much more difficult to fix.

Every year, federal agencies are given a budget. If they meet or exceed that budget, they’re given the same (or more) taxpayer monies the next year. If they don’t meet that budget, sometimes they get less. So, what do bored office workers do when they need to spend an extra $100,000 to hit their yearly allowance? They buy guns!

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They don’t need guns, obviously. But that’s how the bureaucrats in Washington spend more of our hard-earned money every year: by buying stuff they don’t need so Congress will keep cutting checks.

No one in Washington has an incentive to fix this broken system. No one. Congress doesn’t care about the ballooning deficit and debt, the Biden administration doesn’t have a penny pincher among them, and the Supreme Court can’t dictate how executive agencies spend their money.

If we want to solve this problem, we’ll have to solve it ourselves. That’s why I started the Convention of States Project. A Convention of States can propose constitutional amendments that shrink the size, scope, and jurisdiction of the federal government.

In other words, a Convention of States can limit how much money the feds can spend every year and put an end to the militarization of non-military federal agencies. We can and we should ban many of these federal agencies from buying and owning guns and ammunition.

It’s the Founders’ solution to an ever-expanding federal government, and it’s time we used it.

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.