IRS Continues to Buy Submachine Guns — But Why?

( – It’s fair to say the IRS has never been the most popular office in the federal government, but that’s mainly because it collects our taxes. Physically, it should be fairly inoffensive; after all, it’s basically an agency of accountants. Or is it? Under the current administration, the IRS is buying alarming quantities of weaponry.

In fact, the IRS has been stockpiling guns for quite a while. By the end of 2017, it owned 4,487 firearms and 5,062,006 rounds of ammunition, which is quite a lot for an agency that employed about 95,000 people, just 10,000 of whom were actual revenue agents — and of these only 3,300 belonged to the Criminal Investigation Division, the only part of the IRS whose staff are allowed to be armed.

In 2017, the IRS armory contained 3,286 pistols, which makes sense — that’s about one for each member of the Criminal Investigation Division. However, it also contained more than 600 shotguns and over 500 rifles, as well as 15 submachine guns. Submachine guns are automatic weapons; why does a tax collection agency need military-grade automatic firepower?

Other government agencies are tooling up, too. The USDA has 85 Heckler & Koch MP5/40 submachine guns. The MP5 is widely used by special forces units, including the US Special Operations Command and the British SAS. Why do agricultural inspectors need them? Why did the Department of Education buy 27 shotguns? Why does NASA’s Inspector General’s office have 52 armed agents?

It seems like every part of the government wants to have its own armed force, often equipped with military weapons. Some Republicans are challenging this slide toward militarization. In 2022, Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Jeff Duncan (R-SC) introduced the Disarm the IRS Act, but it died in Congress. How long will it be before an American dies under the muzzle of one of the submachine guns owned by the National Institutes of Health?

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