The Department of Homeland Security responded Friday to questions from Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., about why the agency was allegedly planning to buy some 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition over the next five years.
DHS told Whispers it regularly fills all of its goods and services requirements at one time because it's cheaper for the agency, and that the 1.6 billion number was misleading because the language of DHS's purchase said it would need "up to" a certain amount.
One solicitation by the agency—for training centers and law enforcement personnel—was for "up to" 750 million rounds of training ammunition over the next five years, DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard told Whispers.
Another five-year contract allows for the purchase of "up to" 450 million rounds of ammunition, he said, and was also for law enforcement. Boogaard noted that the contract would be used by all DHS agencies except the Coast Guard.
"With more than 100,000 armed law enforcement personnel in DHS, significant quantities of ammunition are used to support law enforcement operations, quarterly qualifications, and training, to include advanced firearms training exercises," Boogaard told Whispers.
According to a letter to one lawmaker detailing DHS ammunition purchases, the department procured 148 million rounds in 2012.
Questions over DHS's big ammunition purchases have been bouncing around the right-wing blogosphere for months. But the story came to a head Friday after a video was posted to the website Infowars of Rep. Huelskamp saying at CPAC that he had expressed concerns to DHS over the purchase but received no response.
"They have no answer for that question. They refuse to answer to answer that," Huelskamp said on the video of the purchases. His office told Whispers that he had sent a letter to DHS with his concerns but had not heard back.
In the letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, Huelskamp wrote that it had "become clear" that DHS was "purchasing vast quantities of ammunition" and that "estimates show that this ... would be enough for 24 Iraq wars." The Kansas congressman also said the timing of the purchase was "of great interest" because of gun control legislation currently being pushed by the Obama administration.
"The extraordinary level of ammunition purchases made by Homeland Security seems to have, in states such as my own, created an extreme shortage of ammunition to the point where many gun owners are unable to purchase any," he wrote.
DHS previously responded to concerns over the purchase voiced by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., noting in a detailed letter sent to the senator's office in February just how much had been purchased and for what purpose.
"DHS routinely establishes strategic sourcing contracts that combine the requirements of all its components for commonly purchased goods and services such as ammunition," a DHS legislative affairs person wrote to Coburn. "These strategic sourcing contracts help leverage the purchasing power of DHS to efficiently procure equipment and supplies at significantly lower costs," the department told Coburn.