CNN: ‘Why do government meat inspectors need submachine guns?’

Last week, CNN asked a very thought-provoking question that has been on the minds of many gun-owning Americans.

Basically, what’s with the militarization of federal agencies, including the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, the Small Business Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Food and Drug Administration, Dept. of Education, National Science Foundation, among others?

After pointing out that the USDA recently procured 85 new .40 caliber “submachine guns,” the news outlet asked, “So why do investigators at agencies better known for meat inspections and processing crop insurance claims need automatic weapons?”

Well, CNN got an answer. Not an answer or an explanation that makes much sense, but an answer nonetheless.

“Regarding the need for weapons’ procurements, OIG’s Investigations division conducts hundreds of criminal investigations each year, some of which involve OIG agents, USDA employees, and/or members of the public facing potentially life threatening situations,” USDA Deputy Counsel Paul Feeney told CNN.

The OIG is the Office of the Inspector General for the USDA. While the USDA had been arming criminal investigators since 1981, under the 2002 Homeland Security Act, 25 federal agencies that previously did not have access to firearms or had limited to access firearms gained permanent access to firearms for their agents.

To state the obvious point, CNN quoted Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT), who said,”Americans don’t see why dozens of federal agencies need their own highly armed police forces with the authority to raid homes and businesses.”

Indeed.

As Stewart went on to explain, “When there are genuinely dangerous situations involving federal law, that’s the job of the Department of Justice, not regulatory agencies like the FDA or the Department of Education.”

To put a stop to this practice, Rep. Stewart introduced the Regulatory Agency De-militarization (RAD) Act back in June.  If passed, the bill would do the following:

  1. Repeals the arrest and firearm authority granted to Offices of Inspectors General in the 2002 Homeland Security Act.
  2. Prohibits federal agencies, other than those traditionally tasked with enforcing federal law—such as the FBI and U.S. Marshals, from purchasing machine guns, grenades, and other weaponry regulated under the National Firearms Act.
  3. Directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to write a complete report detailing all federal agencies, including Offices of Inspectors General, with specialized units that receive special tactical or military-style training and that respond to high-risk situations that fall outside the capabilities of regular law enforcement officers.

While he’s received bipartisan support for the measure, like all meaningful and worthwhile legislation it’s chances of success are dismal (Govtrack.us gave it a 3 percent chance of being enacted).

In the interview below, Stewart brings up an excellent point about accountability, and the relationship between citizens and their local law enforcement agencies compared with that of the federal government. To summarize, citizens can directly contact their local sheriff. They can air grievances over the phone or face-to-face. And they don’t like the results, they have recourse; meaning, if they want, they can re-elect a new sheriff. The same does not hold true for these federal agencies. There is no transparency. There is no way to reach these agents directly.  There is no recourse.

Between the emergence of drones, the extraconstitutional government surveillance, the widespread militarization of federal and state law enforcement agencies, there’s little doubt that the police state has arrived. The only question that remains, how do we continue to keep it in check?  Rep. Stewart’s bill is a start, but we got a long way to go.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Lee April 10, 2017, 6:40 pm

    Man, the lack of adequate training the guys at a lot of the federal agencies get basically just makes them a liability. They know they don’t need this stuff, but they get it anyway. They get some rudimentary marksmanship and manual of arms training. They don’t actually learn how to use it. They don’t know how to handle, secure, or deploy it. Its a cluster…. Leave law enforcement to the professionals, not the pen pushers….

  • ejharb October 20, 2016, 5:10 pm

    Maybe they think they have enough people to put the boot on our necks but more than likely these weapons will help arm their hired help.peaceful Muslim immigrants who just want to live in a idyllic sharia law controlled USA and vote democrat.and the odd cartelista.

  • 2B or not 2B 2A May 5, 2016, 6:45 am

    They arm up while trying to make us, the civilians, arm down. See the pattern here? I guess I see the need for “sub-machine guns” used by the USDA, I mean after all if the heard of cows are releasing too much methane gas into the atmosphere well the logical thing to do is to take out the heard. “See all them cows out there, there killing the ozone every time they flatulate, we need machine guns to shoot all of em”.

    • Doug April 10, 2017, 11:39 am

      Reminds of the Southpark episode. “We’re thinning out the herd!”

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