Rep. Jeff Duncan wants to know why IRS law enforcement agents are training with AR-15 rifles.
As chairman of the House Homeland Security oversight subcommittee, Duncan (R-S.C.) toured a federal law enforcement facility in late May and noticed agents training with the semi-automatic weapons at a firing range. They identified themselves as IRS, he said.
“When I left there, it’s been bugging me for weeks now, why IRS agents are training with a semi-automatic rifle AR-15, which has stand-off capability,” Duncan told POLITICO. “Are Americans that much of a target that you need that kind of capability?”
While Duncan acknowledges that the IRS has an enforcement division, he questions if that level of firepower is appropriate when they could coordinate operations with other agencies, like the FBI, especially in a time of austerity.
“I think Americans raise eyebrows when you tell them that IRS agents are training with a type of weapon that has stand-off capability. It’s not like they’re carrying a sidearm and they knock on someone’s door and say, ‘You’re evading your taxes,’” Duncan said.
Given the increased scrutiny amid the agency’s targeting of political groups and excessive spending, Duncan said, he intends to seek answers from the IRS.
“We’ll ask the questions and hopefully they can justify it. And if not, we’ll bring them in front of the committee for a hearing and ask the questions on the record,” he said.
In a statement, the IRS defended the training.
“As law enforcement officials, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agents are equipped similarly to other federal, state and local law enforcement organizations. Special Agents receive training on the appropriate and safe use of assigned weapons. IRS Criminal Investigation has internal controls and oversight in place to ensure all law enforcement tools, including weapons are used appropriately,” the IRS said.