Leah Barkoukis
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As the gun-control debate raged on in the wake of the Newtown massacre, concerns about the future availability of ammunition and firearms intensified. The high demand led to unprecedented shortages of ammuntion, however. Empty shelves in gun stores, long backorders and drastic price increases have become the norm. Some police departments in California have even begun training with airsoft guns. Thus, reports that DHS was trying to buy up 1.6 billion rounds of ammo over five years have raised eyebrows.

Although DHS’ chief procurement officer Nick Nayak said in a hearing on Thursday that this figure isn’t correct, the actual number, which is closer to 750 million according to Nayak, is still too high for some lawmakers.

"It is entirely ... inexplicable why the Department of Homeland Security needs so much ammunition," Chaffetz, R-Utah, said at a hearing. […]

Chaffetz, who chairs one of the House oversight subcommittees holding the hearing Thursday, revealed that the department currently has more than 260 million rounds in stock. He said the department bought more than 103 million rounds in 2012 and used 116 million that same year -- among roughly 70,000 agents. 

Comparing that with the small-arms purchases procured by the U.S. Army, he said the DHS is churning through between 1,300 and 1,600 rounds per officer, while the U.S. Army goes through roughly 350 rounds per soldier. 

He noted that is "roughly 1,000 rounds more per person." 

It didn’t take long for Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. Frank Lucas to introduce a bill in their respective chambers that would limit federal agencies from stockpiling ammunition. The Ammunition Management for More Obtainability (AMMO) Act “would require the Government Accountability Office to conduct a report on the purchasing of ammunition available to the public,” the statement reads. “The AMMO Act would restrict agencies from obtaining additional ammunition for a six-month period if current agency stockpiles are higher than its monthly averages prior to the Obama administration.”

"President Obama has been adamant about curbing law-abiding Americans’ access and opportunities to exercise their Second Amendment rights," said Inhofe. "One way the Obama Administration is able to do this is by limiting what’s available in the market with federal agencies purchasing unnecessary stockpiles of ammunition. As the public learned in a House committee hearing this week, the Department of Homeland Security has two years worth of ammo on hand and allots nearly 1,000 more rounds of ammunition for DHS officers than is used on average by our Army officers. The AMMO Act of 2013 will enforce transparency and accountability of federal agencies’ ammunition supply while also protecting law-abiding citizens access to these resources.”

Nayak said claims that DHS’ ammo purchases are helping ‘dry up the supply’ in the U.S. are “simply not true.”  

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Leah Barkoukis

Leah Barkoukis is the Assistant Editor at Townhall.com/Townhall Magazine.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography