Be concerned, but not paranoid

A lot of people in recent months have become quite attentive to the government’s actions and are questioning a lot of what the government is doing. This is certainly good. But unfortunately a lot of the conspiratorial mindset ends up seeping into this.

So too was the case when reports surfaced that the DHS had planned to purchase about 1.5 billion rounds of ammunition over the course of 5 years. On Facebook I said this about the report:

So 1 of 3 things is going on: 1. the DHS is trying to actively arm themselves in lieu of some domestic incident, 2. they are trying to secure a price on ammunition before ammunition prices go up (even a couple cent per round increase on that much ammunition is going to sting on an annual budget), or 3. they plan to hire and train several hundred thousand more officers over the next year or two…

A fourth possibility is just that they’re trying to siphon the ammunition market to make it more difficult for civilians to get ammunition. But I wanted to give the DHS the benefit of the doubt by saying that they were merely trying to secure a particular ammunition price or establish a delivery contract for a set price. If recent reports from the DHS are correct, that seems to be what they’re doing.

One thing a lot of people don’t understand or realize is just how much ammunition law enforcement consumes in a given year. They have to practice. A lot. I own a firearm that was formerly a police issue manufactured probably about 20 years ago. It has likely eaten a lot of ammunition in its active life as a law enforcement sidearm.

Now people have pointed out that the order is mostly for hollow-point ammunition. Hollow-points are carried by law enforcement and those carrying concealed for personal protection. The hollow point on the round ensures the round will mushroom or "fan out" and give it a much greater chance of staying in whatever it hits, whether it be an intended target, wall or floor, or at least expend so much of its energy that it may not have enough energy left to be lethal should it pass through whatever it hits.

In pointing out that the orders are for hollow points, they also point out that hollow points are not used for practice. Well not typically used for practice.

The fallacy of this notion comes with one simple thing that any firearms owner must know: you need to practice with the ammunition you intend to carry. This means if you’re going to be regularly carrying Remington Golden Sabre ammunition in your carry firearm, you need to also be expending that ammunition at the range. Why? You want to make sure that that ammunition will cycle through your firearm without any difficulty. And if it’s problematic, you need to change to something else.

Now, the fact the DHS is ordering over 1.5 billion rounds of hollow point ammunition is certainly concerning.

But taking everything I’ve learned over the last couple years about firearms and firearms handling into account, along with how much ammunition law enforcement typically goes through, I don’t find it entirely unusual. It sounds to me like they’re trying to lock in some kind of delivery contract or price – and given the current market for ammunition, I don’t blame them.

It wouldn’t surprise me if many law enforcement agencies are trying to do the same, and if one were to look back at past orders for ammunition by the DHS and other Federal agencies, we’d probably find similarities. It’s getting a lot of attention this time around because of what is going on in Washington and the attempts to enact greater gun controls. The DHS order running alongside the debates in the Senate on a gun control package – that is likely to die in the House of Representatives – makes it sound like the government wants to ensure they are armed and the people are not.

But while one certainly needs to be concerned about the DHS and other law enforcement orders for ammunition, some more thought needs to be expended to keep such concerns from becoming conspiratorial paranoia.