The hearing itself was unusual, as questions about the department's ammunition purchases until recently had bubbled largely under the radar -- on blogs and in the occasional news article. But as the Department of Homeland Security found itself publicly defending the purchases, lawmakers gradually showed more interest in the issue.
Democratic Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., at the opening of the hearing, ridiculed the concerns as "conspiracy theories" which have "no place" in the committee room.
But Republicans said the purchases raise "serious" questions about waste and accountability.
Chaffetz, who chairs one of the House oversight subcommittees holding the hearing Thursday, revealed that the department currently has more than 260 million rounds in stock. He said the department bought more than 103 million rounds in 2012 and used 116 million that same year -- among roughly 70,000 agents.
Comparing that with the small-arms purchases procured by the U.S. Army, he said the DHS is churning through between 1,300 and 1,600 rounds per officer, while the U.S. Army goes through roughly 350 rounds per soldier.
He noted that is "roughly 1,000 rounds more per person."
"Their officers use what seems to be an exorbitant amount of ammunition," he said.
Nick Nayak, chief procurement officer for the Department of Homeland Security, did not challenge Chaffetz's numbers.
However, Nayak sought to counter what he described as several misconceptions about the bullet buys.
Despite reports that the department was trying to buy up to 1.6 billion rounds over five years, he said that is not true. He later clarified that the number is closer to 750 million.
He said the department, on average, buys roughly 100 million rounds per year.
He also said claims that the department is stockpiling ammo are "simply not true." Further, he countered claims that the purchases are helping create broader ammunition shortages in the U.S.
The department has long said it needs the bullets for agents in training and on duty, and buys in bulk to save money.
While Democrats likened concerns about the purchases to conspiracy theories, Republicans raised concern about the sheer cost of the ammunition.
"This is not about conspiracy theories, this is about good government," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who chairs the full Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he suspects rounds are being stockpiled, and then either "disposed of," passed to non-federal agencies, or shot "indiscriminately."
If that is the case, he said, "then shame on you."
As for me, I reprinted this information for a few reasons:
First, I feel you should know this just in case you feel like calling or writing your Congressman or woman and telling him or her how angry you are about the waste of money and resources that the Department of Homeland Security is doing by spending scarce federal dollars foolishly.
And second, I hope your Congressman or woman can rein in this out of control agency by cutting their budget.
Friends, there is no need for any civilian government agency to authorize a million dollars be spent on new TSA uniforms, the purchase of 7,000 M-16 rifles for the agents "personal use," 1.6 billion rounds of ammo, or 2,717 MRAP assault vehicles for the streets of America.
We do not need an American Gestapo.
And for you who are too young to understand what a Gestapo is, allow me to help. The "Gestapo" was the German Secret State Police. Abbreviated, it was called the “Gestapo.”
It was Nazi Germany government's Secret Police. Their main tools were death and intimidation, oppression and destruction.
Noted for its brutal methods of interrogation, torture, and murder, it usurped the law and persecuted Germans - especially opponents of the Nazi regime. Besides its cruel treatment and oppression of all German citizens, it is responsible for rounding up and transporting millions of Jews to be slaughtered.
In 2009, Homeland Security placed a standing order with Winchester for 200 Million rounds of .40 caliber pistol ammunition. That is a lot of firepower for a supposedly protective force within our borders!
In 2012, Homeland Security put in an order for 450 Million rounds of ammunition.
Then a few months ago, the same agency put in an order for 1.6 Billion rounds of ammunition, two thousand seven hundred and seventeen tanks, and seven thousand assault rifles for their agents.
All for what reason?
A government agency like Homeland Security, who is spending billions of dollars to militarize itself by equipping itself like a military force, and who has unlimited resources and power, can be a dangerous threat to our American freedoms and Democracy.
It can become a power and a threat all of itself. No different than an American Gestapo would be.
That's just how I see it.