This week, U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis co-sponsored H.R. 4934: The Regulatory Agency De-militarization Act. The bill revokes provisions of the 2002 Homeland Security Act that grant Offices of Inspector General (OIG) firearm and arrest authority.
It also prohibits many federal agencies from purchasing or using firearms regulated under the National Firearms Act such as machine guns, grenades, and other explosive devices. The act directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to write a report detailing all federal agencies with teams that have received special tactical, military or other training that goes beyond the scope of regular law enforcement.
“Many regulatory agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Food and Drug Agency, and the Department of Education, have been arming themselves to the teeth and, frankly, it puts me and the American people on edge,” said Rep. Lummis. “I have heard these concerns countless times back in Wyoming and I am very thankful for Chris Stewart of Utah taking the lead on this. Most federal agencies have no business building up these military-like special tactics teams, which should be reserved for the FBI, U.S. Marshals, and similar agencies charged with enforcing federal law.”
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 Agency, 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, and 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.