Wait, agents carry AR-15s at . . . the IRS?

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Friday June 17th, 2016

Heard a bang bang bang, and down you go . . .

The FBI, I think we would all understand aside from paranoid libertarians and people of that nature. Of course they need to be heavily armed. The INS and others in the Department of Homeland Security - given the type of people and situations they might encounter - few would question.

But can someone explain exactly why IRS agents need to be packing AR-15s? That's what American Transparency, which is lead in part by former Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, would like to know:

On Friday, June 17, our organization, American Transparency, is releasing its OpenTheBooks.com oversight report on the militarization of America. The report catalogs federal purchases of guns, ammunition and military-style equipment by seemingly bureaucratic federal agencies. During a nine-year period through 2014, we found, 67 agencies unaffiliated with the Department of Defense spent $1.48 billion on guns and ammo. Of that total, $335.1 million was spent by agencies traditionally viewed as regulatory or administrative, such as the Smithsonian Institution and the U.S. Mint.

Some examples of spending from 2005 through 2014 raise the question: Who are they preparing to battle?

• The Internal Revenue Service, which has 2,316 special agents, spent nearly $11 million on guns, ammunition and military-style equipment. That’s nearly $5,000 in gear for each agent.

• The Department of Veterans Affairs, which has 3,700 law-enforcement officers guarding and securing VA medical centers, spent $11.66 million. It spent more than $200,000 on night-vision equipment, $2.3 million for body armor, more than $2 million on guns, and $3.6 million for ammunition. The VA employed no officers with firearm authorization as recently as 1995.

• The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service spent $4.77 million purchasing shotguns, .308 caliber rifles, night-vision goggles, propane cannons, liquid explosives, pyro supplies, buckshot, LP gas cannons, drones, remote-control helicopters, thermal cameras, military waterproof thermal infrared scopes and more.

• The Environmental Protection Agency spent $3.1 million on guns, ammunition and military-style equipment. The EPA has put nearly $800 million since 2005 into its “Criminal Enforcement Division.”

• The Food and Drug Administration employs 183 heavily armed “special agents.”

• The University of California, Berkeley acquired 14 5.56mm assault rifles and Yale University police accepted 20 5.56mm assault rifles from the Defense Department. Texas Southern University and Saddleback College police even acquired Mine Resistant Vehicles (MRVs).

I'd love to know who the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is going to get in a firefight with.

But let's get back to the agencies that deal with human American citizens, particularly the IRS. These people do come to your house unannounced to discuss back taxes owed. They came to mine once when I was in a rough financial stretch and I was behind on my taxes. A rather disturbing man knocked at the door in the middle of the day and freaked the hell out of my wife.

He wasn't packing, as far as we know, but what might be the reason they would decide to do so in a tax delinquency case? Or would it not even have to involve tax delinquency? What about those conservative advocacy groups that request tax-exempt status but don't think they should have to tell the IRS who the speakers are at their events, or whether they prayed? Do they warrant an armed invasion conducted by agents trained and packing military-style artillery?

This is the same government that cannot wait to ban your ownership of these kinds of weapons (or just about any other if they can pull it off), and yet they seem quite happy to arm agents of paper-pushing bureaucracies with these very same weapons for reasons I cannot fathom and, I'm guessing, neither can you.

It smacks of an entity whose top priority is its own self-preservation, and sees the general public as the greatest threat to same. You don't need military-style weapons to enforce tax laws, animal health and environmental regulations - unless that's not really what you're there to do.

And if agencies like this inside the federal bureaucracy insist on arming themselves in this way, can you really blame the citizenry for wanting to arm themselves as well?

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