by John Hawkins | September 16, 2013 7:03 am
It’s much more worrisome that 70 federal agencies have weapons than it is that law abiding American citizens have guns.
The recent uproar over armed EPA agents descending on a tiny Alaska mining town is shedding light on the fact that 40 federal agencies — including nearly a dozen typically not associated with law enforcement — have armed divisions.
The agencies employ about 120,000 full-time officers authorized to carry guns and make arrests, according to a June 2012 Justice Department report.
Though most Americans know agents within the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Prisons carry guns, agencies such as the Library of Congress and Federal Reserve Board employing armed officers might come as a surprise.
The incident that sparked the renewed interest and concern occurred in late August when a team of armed federal and state officials descended on the tiny Alaska gold mining town of Chicken, Alaska.
The Environmental Protection Agency, whose armed agents in full body armor participated, acknowledged taking part in the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force investigation, which it said was conducted to look for possible violations of the Clean Water Act.
The FBI, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Park Service are among 24 federal agencies employing more than 250 full-time armed officers with arrest authority, according the federal report, which is based on the 2008 Census of Federal Law Enforcement Officers.
The other 16 agencies have less than 250 officers and include NOAA as well as the Library of Congress, the Federal Reserve Board and the National Institutes of Health.
The number of federal department with armed personnel climbs to 73 when adding in the 33 offices of inspector general, the government watchdogs for agencies as large as the Postal Service to the Government Printing Office, whose IG has only five full-time officers.
Why does the EPA need armed officers to look for violations of the Clean Water Act? Why does the Federal Reserve Board and Library of Congress need armed officers? Why do so many federal agencies need to have employees that are packing heat? It would be one thing if they simply had security guards on premises, but as you see with the EPA, when a government agency has guns, it looks for any excuse to use them.
It’s especially ironic that the federal government is looking for any excuse to take away the 2nd Amendment rights of the American people while government agencies appear to be looking for any excuse to arm themselves. Congress should look into this issue and if they don’t see a good reason for these agencies to have armed agents, they should cut off the funds they’re using for weaponry.
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