At the beginning of this month we wrote about how the Department of Homeland Security and ICE had placed an order for 450 million bullets over a 5 year period. [All I wanna do is bang bang bang 450 million times.] We noted at the time that this figure was just shy of the combined populations of the United States, Canada and Mexico.
A chain letter regarding the bullet order has been circulating around the internet, and it made a similar observation, that the DHS was buying enough bullets for every man, woman, and child in the United States. Politifact looked in to the chain letter's claim, and while it confirmed the purchase (the original source was the bullet manufacturer's press release, so it's pretty credible), it took issue with the e-mail's suggestion that the order was in preparation of massive civil unrest. [Politifact]
A commenter on our original piece noted that training could consume a huge number of bullets. And, that's exactly what Politifact discovered. Over the course of a year that includes basic firearms training, a federal law enforcement officer will go through about 1,000 bullets (and presumably fewer in subsequent years). The Department of Homeland Security has 216,000 employees, 135,000 of whom carry firearms. The numbers do match with what the DHS might need for training, so nothing to see here, carry on.
Well, unless you think that 135,000 armed DHS officers is a lot. The armed portion of DHS is large enough to make it the 37th largest active duty military in the world. Bigger than Venezuela's 115,000, Jordan's 111,000, and almost twice as large as Canada's 68,000. And that's comparing just armed DHS officers to the entire active duty military, brass and bureaucrats included. If you take all of DHS, it comes in at #25, larger than the UK's 198,000.
It's larger than Iraq's 192,000 and Israel's 177,000, and you can bet that Iraq and Israel's militaries are much more involved in homeland security than the DHS is. Not just their own, either. Iraq and Israel's militaries likely do more for American homeland security than the DHS does.
In terms of spending, DHS's $55.1 billion annual budget would make it the 6th largest military in the world. The only nations that would be bigger are the United States, China, Russia, the UK and France.
Forget having a bullet for every man, woman, and child in the United States, DHS has $177.74 per year for each of us. There's 1 DHS employee for about every 1,500 Americans. Instead of the joke of security theater that goes on in the airports, each night of the week each DHS employee should take out 1-2 families to Cheesecake Factory, buy everyone an appetizer, entree, and dessert, give them a $100 bill and ask them to please not blow up any airplanes. Air travel would be quicker and more pleasant, we wouldn't increase the risk of terrorist attacks one iota, and the nation would save about $8.6 billion a year.