Why Do 70 Federal Agencies Have Armed Agents?
The recent uproar over armed EPA agents descending on a
tiny Alaska mining town is shedding light on the fact that 40 federal
agencies – including nearly a dozen typically not associated with law
enforcement — have armed divisions.
The agencies employ about 120,000 full-time officers authorized to
carry guns and make arrests, according to a June 2012 Justice Department
Though most Americans know agents within the Drug Enforcement Agency
and the Federal Bureau of Prisons carry guns, agencies such as the
Library of Congress and Federal Reserve Board employing armed officers
might come as a surprise.
The incident that sparked the renewed interest and concern
occurred in late August when a team of armed federal and state officials
descended on the tiny Alaska gold mining town of Chicken, Alaska.
The Environmental Protection Agency, whose armed agents in full body
armor participated, acknowledged taking part in the Alaska Environmental
Crimes Task Force investigation, which it said was conducted to look
for possible violations of the Clean Water Act.
The FBI, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and
Park Service are among 24 federal agencies employing more than 250
full-time armed officers with arrest authority, according the federal
report, which is based on the 2008 Census of Federal Law Enforcement
The other 16 agencies have less than 250 officers and include NOAA as
well as the Library of Congress, the Federal Reserve Board and the
National Institutes of Health.
The number of federal department with armed personnel climbs to 73
when adding in the 33 offices of inspector general, the government
watchdogs for agencies as large as the Postal Service to the Government
Printing Office, whose IG has only five full-time officers.
Why does the EPA need armed officers to look for violations of the
Clean Water Act? Why does the Federal Reserve Board and Library of
Congress need armed officers? Why do so many federal agencies need to
have employees that are packing heat? It would be one thing if they
simply had security guards on premises, but as you see with the EPA,
when a government agency has guns, it looks for any excuse to use them.
It’s especially ironic that the federal government is looking for any
excuse to take away the 2nd Amendment rights of the American people
while government agencies appear to be looking for any excuse to arm
themselves. Congress should look into this issue and if they don’t see a
good reason for these agencies to have armed agents, they should cut
off the funds they’re using for weaponry.
See Votes by State
News & Politics