Republicans embrace conspiracy theory that DHS is buying up ammo

James Inhofe and Jim Jordan believe the Obama Administration is trying to curb access to bullets

Published April 30, 2013 10:25PM (EDT)

A conspiracy theory is getting renewed life among Republicans who claim that the Obama administration, specifically the Department of Homeland Security, is buying up ammunition in order to thwart gun owners by taking over the market. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Rep. Frank Lucas, both Republicans from Oklahoma, introduced a bill last week to crack down on the alleged practice.

The Hill reports:

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. Frank Lucas have introduced a bill that would prohibit every government agency — except the military — from buying more ammunition each month, than the monthly average it purchased from 2001 to 2009.

The lawmakers say the Obama administration is buying up exceedingly high levels of ammunition in an attempt to limit the number of bullets the American public have access to on the open marketplace.

Inhofe argued that Obama has been "adamant about curbing law-abiding Americans’ access and opportunities to exercise their Second Amendment rights," and that "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."

On Tuesday, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, had a similar conversation with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council on Sandy Rios' radio show, noting that he's been “buying my kids ammo instead of saving bonds.”

"That’s part of the concern is that this is another way for the president to keep Americans from having ammo by having the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies buy it all up," Perkins said. "Yep," replied Jordan.

Others, including Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, and Fox Business's Lou Dobbs, have had related concerns about the government "arming up."

Similar versions of this theory have been floating around the right for some time. Politifact Texas found it to be "mostly false" when a chain email suggested last year that the DHS was preparing for "massive civil unrest" by stockpiling ammo.

Even the NRA debunked these kinds of conspiracy theories in a press release last summer, saying that the DHS buying ammo is perfectly normal: "Much of the concern stems from a lack of understanding of the law enforcement functions carried about by officers in small federal agencies. These agents have the power to make arrests and execute warrants, just like their better-known counterparts at agencies like the FBI."

"As most gun owners will agree, skepticism of government is healthy. But today, there are more than enough actual threats to the Second Amendment to keep gun owners busy," the NRA continued.

Democratic Rep. John Tierney of Massachusetts agreed in a House Oversight Committee meeting on Inhofe and Lucas' bill. "To the extent that we’re responding to conspiracy theories, I think we’re really wasting everybody’s time on that,” he said.

By Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Barack Obama Gun Control James Inhofe Jim Jordan Oklahoma Republicans