(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Mike Doran)
House Republicans have introduced legislation that would strip non-law-enforcement federal agencies of their ability to purchase firearms and other weapons.
Now, this is the common sense gun control we can all get behind!
The bill, called the Regulatory Agency De-militarization Act, or the RAD Act, is sponsored by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) and it aims to repeal the arrest and firearm authority given to inspector general offices as part of the 2002 Homeland Security Act.
These days, non-law-enforcement agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Food and Drug Administration use SWAT-like teams to conduct raids and arrests.
Rep. Stewart says that this is unacceptable.
“I understand that federal agents must be capable of protecting themselves, but what we have observed goes far beyond providing necessary protection,” Stewart said Wednesday. “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.”
These agencies are not shy about using their armed divisions, either. Stewart mentions when the FDA raided a grocery store selling raw milk, but there are other instances, such as when the EPA raided an Alaskan mining town.
Remember when Gibson Guitar was raided by the Justice Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?
The RAD Act has three pieces:
- Repeals the arrest and firearm authority granted to Offices of Inspectors General in the 2002 Homeland Security Act.
- 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.
- 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.
According to a Justice Department report in 2008, there were 120,000 full-time federal officers authorized to carry firearms and make arrests, and more than a dozen of the 40 federal agencies who had armed divisions were not associated with law enforcement. These agencies included the Veterans Health Administration, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the Library of Congress.
“Not only is it overkill, but having these highly armed units within dozens of agencies is duplicative, costly, heavy handed, dangerous and destroys any sense of trust between citizens and the federal government,” Stewart said.
Also included in the bill is a clause requiring any agency with their own tactical team to give a detailed report to Congress of the training, weapons, the criteria for activating the unit and how frequently it was activated.
Specific examples of the militarization of federal regulatory agencies include:
- In July 2010, a multi-agency taskforce, including armed officers from the Food and Drug Administration, raided a Venice, California organic grocery store suspected of using raw milk. (LA Times, July 10, 2010).
- In June 2011, armed federal agents with the Department of Education’s OIG broke down the door of a Stockton, California home at 6 AM and handcuffed a man suspected of student aid fraud. (Washington Post, June 8, 2011).
- In July 2013, an armed multi-agency taskforce, including officers from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Land Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service raided a small Alaska mining operation suspected of violating the Clean Water Act. (Washington Times, Oct. 11, 2013).
- On May 7th, 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s OIG released a solicitation for submachine guns.
The RAD Act was introduced shortly before the shooting in San Bernardino, California, that resulted in the death of 14 victims and has led many, including President Obama, to call for more gun control.
Something tells me this isn’t the type of gun control Obama was looking for.