GAO: IRS Had 4,487 Guns; 5,062,006 Rounds of Ammunition

Terence P. Jeffrey | December 28, 2018 | 4:59pm EST
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The Internal Revenue Service building in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images/Win McNamee)

( - The Internal Revenue Service had in its weapons inventory 4,487 guns and 5,062,006 rounds of ammunition as of late 2017, according to a report published this month by the Government Accountability Office.

Included in this arsenal, according to the GAO, were 15 “fully automatic firearms” and 56,000 rounds of ammunition for those fully automatic firearms.

The same report--"Federal Law Enforcement: Purchases and Inventory Controls of Firearms, Ammuntion, and Tactical Equipment"--says that the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services had 194 fully automatic firearms and 386,952 rounds of ammunition for those fully automatic firearms.

“The term ‘fully automatic’ used in this report,” says a footnote in the report, “encompasses a range of firearms classified as machine guns, including submachine guns, three round burst guns, and guns with a selector switch that can enable continuous fire.”

[Above is Table 4 from the GAO report.]

The guns in the IRS inventory also included 3,302 pistols, 623 shotguns, 543 rifles, and 4 revolvers.

The ammunition stockpiled by the IRS—in addition to the 56,000 rounds for its fully automatic firearms--included 3,156,046 pistol and revolver rounds, 368,592 shotgun rounds and 1,481,368 rifle rounds.

The IRS’s firearms and ammunition are used primarily by its Criminal Investigation (CI) unit, which is manned by 2,148 federal law enforcement officers. But some of it is also used by the IRS’s Police Officer Section, which includes only 9 federal law enforcement officers.

“IRS’ Criminal Investigation serves the American public by investigating potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and related financial crimes in compliance with the law,” the GAO explained in the report it published this month.

“IRS’ Police Officer Section,” said the report, “provides protection for the people, property and processes of its Enterprise Computing Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia, which houses 10 of IRS’ 19 critical tax processing functions.”

The GAO looked at how 20 federal agencies spent money on firearms and ammunition for the federal law enforcement officers (FLEOs) under their authority, whether they accurately reported those firearms and ammunition purchases, and how agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency and the IRS, practiced “inventory control” for their guns and ammunition.

“Federal law enforcement agencies purchase firearms, ammunition, and tactical equipment, such as riot shields, to support their missions,” the GAO said in summarizing its report. “GAO was asked to review these purchases for federal law enforcement agencies, and inventory controls at HHS, EPA and IRS specifically.”

The report listed five members of Congress as the requesters: House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy (R.-S.C.), Rep. Mark Meadows (R.-N.C.), Sen. Jim Inhofe (R.-Okla.), Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R.- Mo.) and Rep, Richard Hudson (R.-N.C.)

“The 20 federal law enforcement agencies in GAO’s review reported spending at least $38.8 million on firearms, $325.9 million on ammunition, and $1.14 billion on tactical equipment---at least $1.5 billion in total—from fiscal years 2010 through 2017, based on data agencies provided to GAO,” said the report.

The report explained that the agencies in question purchase ammunition for use by federal law enforcement officers for both training and operations.

“At these federal agencies, FLEOs are authorized to carry firearms,, and are required to train in their use and pass certain firearms qualification standards,” says the report. “To help ensure officers maintain the firearms proficiency of their firearms-carrying workforce, these agencies purchase ammunition for training, qualifications, and operations.”

The report said that one of the questions the GAO examined was: “What types and quantities of firearms, ammunition, and selected tactical equipment do HHS, EPA and IRS have documented to be in their inventory systems, as of November 2017?”

The original report that the GAO produced on this included some information considered too “sensitive” by HHS, IRS and TSA to be released. So, the report was modified for review by the public.

Specifically, among other things, the report removed some information about “the number and some firearms, ammunition, and tactical equipment in NIH’s and IRS's inventory.”

“This report is the public version of a sensitive report that we issued in October 2018,” said GAO. “HHS, IRS and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) deemed some of the information in our October report to be sensitive, which must be protected from public disclosure.

“Therefore,” said GAO, “this report omits sensitive information about the number of FLEOs at TSA, an illustration of how HHS’s National Institutes of Health Police secures its firearms, and the number and some firearms, ammunition, and tactical equipment in NIH’s and IRS's inventory.”

Table 4 of the GAO report lists the elements of the EPA, HHS and IRS that employ federal law enforcement officers that use firearms.

Among these agencies, the law enforcement element with the most guns and ammunition is the IRS’s “Criminal Investigation” (CI) unit.

At the EPA, the Office of Investigations in the Office of the Inspector General had 48 FLEOs, according to Table 4. As of November 2017, this IG’s office had 231 pistols, 20 shotguns, and 6 rifles. It also had 95,576 pistol rounds, 31,145 shotgun rounds, and 5,278 rifle rounds.”

In addition to these guns and ammunition, the EPA IG also had tactical equipment that included 4 silencers.

The EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance had 157 FLEOs. This unit was armed with 377 pistols and 223 shotguns. It also had 220,418 pistol rounds and 146,075 shotgun rounds.

At HHS, the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigation had 232 FLEOs. This force was armed with 390 pistols and 122 shotguns. It also had 166,783 pistol rounds and 30,620 shotgun rounds.

In tactical equipment category, the FDA Office of Criminal Investigation also had 16 piece of “breaching equipment.”

Table 4 did not include the number of FLEOs or the weapons on ammunition inventories by the NIH’s Division of Police. Instead, the table said: “This information was determined to be sensitive by NIH.”

The HHS Office of Inspector General had 444 FLEOs. This force was armed with 1,061 pistols, 12 revolvers, 194 fully automatic firearms, 1 shotgun, and 2 rifles. It also had 541,864 pistol and revolver rounds. 386,952 fully automatic firearms rounds, 225 shotgun rounds, and 420 rifle rounds.

Its tactical equipment included 219 piece of breaching equipment.

The IRS Criminal Investigation unit had 2,148 FLEOs. They were armed with 3,282 pistols, 4 revolvers, 15 fully automatic firearms, 621 shotguns, and 539 rifles. It also had 3,151,500 pistol and revolver rounds, 56,000 fully automatic firearms rounds, 367,750, shotgun rounds, and 1,472,050 rifle rounds.

In the tactical equipment category, IRS Criminal Investigation had 103 “aiming devices,” 178 “specialized image enhancement devices,” and 10 “tactical lighting” instruments.

The IRS’s Police Officer Section had 9 FLEOs. This force was armed with 20 pistols, 2 shotguns and 4 rifles. It also had 4,546 pistol rounds, 842 shotgun rounds and 9,316 rifle rounds.

A footnote to the report says that the “IRS CI ammunition counts are as of December 2017”—not November 2017.

The GAO report said that the IRS CI did “not have a documented policy to track ammunition or conduct a regular inventory.”

“IRS CI currently limits access to ammunition and entrusts use of force coordinators with independently managing their ammunition inventory to meet the training needs of their area of responsibility,” said the report. “One IRS CI use of force coordinator said that she relies on her experience and judgment to keep track of ammunition use at her field office without formally recording it. IRS CI is the only component in our review that does not have a documented policy to track ammunition or conduct a regular inventory; however, IRS CI officials indicated they are in the process of establishing a nationwide policy to track ammunition and conduct a regular ammunition inventory.”

The business and economic reporting of is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.

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