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GOP Battles A Threat To Gun Rights That Even The NRA Says Doesn't Exist

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AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

A bill introduced late last week by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) would ban federal agencies, excluding the Pentagon, from buying more ammunition during a six-month period if it currently possesses more than its monthly averages during the Bush administration.

The conspiracy theory that incubated the bill is that the Obama administration is trying to buy up bullets so ordinary Americans have less access to them in the marketplace.

"President Obama has been adamant about curbing law-abiding Americans' access and opportunities to exercise their Second Amendment rights," Inhofe said in a statement. "One way the Obama Administration is able to do this is by limiting what's available in the market with federal agencies purchasing unnecessary stockpiles of ammunition."

Only it's false -- as no less a pro-gun organization than the NRA declared last year.

Last fall, the NRA issued a statement saying the claim was being pushed in an "Internet rumor mill" and was designed to "stir up fear." The "more incendiary authors," the group said, "suggest that these government agencies are preparing for a war with the American people."

"As most gun owners will agree, skepticism of government is healthy. But today, there are more than enough actual threats to the Second Amendment to keep gun owners busy," the NRA said. "[T]here is no need to invent additional threats to our rights."

The GOP-led House oversight committee flirted with the conspiracy theory in March when it asked the Department of Homeland Security to explain its decisions regarding the procurement of ammunition. Republicans described it as an effort to "ensure that U.S. taxpayer funds are being spent effectively."

The Department provided the committee a lengthy response, concluding: "While DHS spending on ammunition represents less than one tenth of one percent of the DHS budget, we continue to pursue measures that leverage all of the Department's resources in order to best make use of taxpayer dollars."

About The Author

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Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.