For months, conservatives and conspiracy theorists have been flogging a story of a huge arms buildup within the Department of Homeland Security. I was a bit taken aback by the purchase of roughly 2 billion rounds by the DHS as well as a report of the purchase of 2700 light-armored vehicles. However, it seemed like the coverage was over-wrought and that such bulk purchases could be viewed as efficient contracting to get the lowest possible price. Yet, now the DHS has reportedly ordered 360,000 addition rounds of hollow tip bullets (sometimes called Dum-Dum bullets) in addition to huge prior orders. I do not understand why such an arsenal has to be created within this one agency, particularly the use of these bullets designed to maximize damage to the human body.
DHS put out a call to purchase 360,000 rounds of “Commercial leaded training ammo (CLTA) Pistol .40 caliber 165 grain, jacketed hollow point.” The bullets are to be sent to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, New Mexico, which already received 240,000 hollow point rounds just last month.
I am not sure why our federal agents are practicing with hollow tips in the first place. Some have argued that these bullets reduce the risk of bullets traveling through suspects or material and hitting bystanders. However, international agreements have long identified such bullets as cruel and sought to bar their use. This includes the Hague Convention of 1899, Declaration III, that prohibits the use in international warfare of bullets that easily expand or flatten in the body.
I would like to understand why DHS is on such an overall buying spree of bullets and weapons. I do not subscribe to the conspiracy theories of a takeover or any of that nonsense. However, as a civil libertarian, I am concerned with the expansion of a security state in the United States with what is becoming a fully functional internal police army. This goes beyond the hollow tip bullets, which may be better for training (though the number is breathtaking). It reminds one of other countries where internal police are paramilitary organizations. It is part of the new normal. We are now getting accustomed to seeing automatic weapons and military-style forces on our streets. We have discussed recurring stories of overkill where local police seem eager to attack homes with armored vehicles purchased as part of the “anti-terrorism” budget. What is surprising is that there is little discussion about the implication of this militarization of our society.
What do you think?