The Transportation Security Administration is set to purchase 3.5 million .357 SIG caliber bullets, enough for its agents to fire 9,400 rounds a day, every day of the year.
According to a solicitation issued by the agency on August 16, the TSA is looking to buy “3,454,000 rounds of .347 SIG Caliber Training Ammunition”.
Although TSA agents in airports are currently unarmed, last month the TSA announced its plan to hire the use of a firing range within a 20 mile radius of LaGuardia Airport in order to train TSA workers.
The federal agency’s huge bullet buy could signal an expansion of its controversial Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) program, where teams of armed TSA officers patrol railroad stations, bus stations, ferries, car tunnels, ports, subways, truck weigh stations, rest areas, and special events.
VIPR teams currently conduct around 8,000 operations a year. As well as providing security at transport hubs, VIPR teams are now being used to keep tabs on fans at sporting events.
Earlier this month it was announced that VIPR agents would now be patting down Americans “outside the airport” by conducting stop and search shake downs at transport hubs and public events.
As Government Security News notes, the amount of ammunition being purchased, “means the TSA could fire off more than 9,400 rounds per day, every day of the year, to consume that entire quantity annually.”
Significant bullet purchases by the TSA are likely to fuel concerns that the federal government is arming itself to the teeth in preparation for some form of domestic unrest or other catastrophe, following the Department of Homeland Security’s commitment to purchase more than 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition over the course of the last 18 months.
As we reported last week, Congressman Jeff Duncan’s attempt to get answers on why the IRS is also training its agents with semi-automatic AR-15′s designed for “standoff capability” has been ignored by the federal agency.