“There are instruments so dangerous to the rights of the nation and which place them so totally at the mercy of their governors that those governors, whether legislative or executive, should be restrained from keeping such instruments on foot but in well-defined cases. Such an instrument is a standing army.”—Thomas Jefferson, 1789
What does it say about the state of our freedoms that there are now more pencil-pushing, bureaucratic (non-military) government agents armed with weapons than U.S. Marines?
Among the agencies being supplied with night-vision equipment, body armor, hollow-point bullets, shotguns, drones, assault rifles and LP gas cannons are the IRS, Smithsonian, U.S. Mint, Health and Human Services, FDA, Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Education Department, Energy Department, Bureau of Engraving and Printing and an assortment of public universities.
Add in the Biden Administration’s plans to swell the ranks of the IRS by 87,000 new employees (some of whom will be authorized to use deadly force) and grow the nation’s police forces by 100,000 more cops, and you’ve got a nation in the throes of martial law.
We’re being frog-marched into tyranny at the end of a loaded gun.
Make that hundreds of thousands of loaded guns.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of federal agents armed with guns, ammunition and military-style equipment, authorized to make arrests, and trained in military tactics has nearly tripled over the past several decades.
As Adam Andrzejewski writes for Forbes, “the federal government has become one never-ending gun show.”
While Americans have to jump through an increasing number of hoops in order to own a gun, federal agencies have been placing orders for hundreds of millions of rounds of hollow point bullets and military gear.
For example, the IRS has stockpiled 4,500 guns and five million rounds of ammunition in recent years, including 621 shotguns, 539 long-barrel rifles and 15 submachine guns.
The Veterans Administration purchased 11 million rounds of ammunition (equivalent to 2,800 rounds for each of their officers), along with camouflage uniforms, riot helmets and shields, specialized image enhancement devices and tactical lighting.
The Department of Health and Human Services acquired 4 million rounds of ammunition, in addition to 1,300 guns, including five submachine guns and 189 automatic firearms for its Office of Inspector General.
According to an in-depth report on “The Militarization of the U.S. Executive Agencies,” the Social Security Administration secured 800,000 rounds of ammunition for their special agents, as well as armor and guns.
The Environmental Protection Agency owns 600 guns. The Smithsonian now employs 620-armed “special agents.”
Even agencies such as Amtrak and NASA have their own SWAT teams.
Ask yourselves: why are government agencies being turned into military outposts?
What’s with the buildup of SWAT teams within non-security-related federal agencies? Even the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Education Department have their own SWAT teams. Most of those officers are under the command of either the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Justice.
Why does the Department of Agriculture need .40 caliber semiautomatic submachine guns and hollow point bullets? For that matter, why do its agents need ballistic vests and body armor?
For that matter, why do IRS agents need AR-15 rifles?
Why do local police need armored personnel carriers with gun ports, compact submachine guns with 30-round magazines, precision battlefield sniper rifles, and military-grade assault-style rifles and carbines?
Why is the federal government distributing obscene amounts of military equipment, weapons and ammunition to police departments around the country?
Why is the military partnering with local police to conduct training drills around the country? And what exactly are they training for? The public has been disallowed from obtaining any information about the purpose of these realistic urban training drills, other than that they might be loud and to not be alarmed.
We should be alarmed.
As James Madison warned, “We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.”
Unfortunately, we’re long past the first experiment on our freedoms, and merely taking alarm over this build-up of military might will no longer suffice.
Nothing about this de facto army of bureaucratic, administrative, non-military, paper-pushing, non-traditional law enforcement agencies is necessary for national security.
Moreover, while these weaponized, militarized, civilian forces which are armed with military-style guns, ammunition and equipment; trained in military tactics; and authorized to make arrests and use deadly force—may look and act like the military, they are not the military.
Rather, they are foot soldiers of the police state’s standing army, and they are growing in number at an alarming rate.
This standing army—a.k.a. a national police force—vested with the power to completely disregard the Constitution and rule by force is exactly what America’s founders feared, and its danger cannot be overstated or ignored.
This is exactly what martial law looks like—when a government disregards constitutional freedoms and imposes its will through military force, only this is martial law without any government body having to declare it: Battlefield tactics. Militarized police. Riot and camouflage gear. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Drones. Less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Concussion grenades. Intimidation tactics. Brute force. Laws conveniently discarded when it suits the government’s purpose.
The militarization of America’s police forces in recent decades, which has gone hand in hand with the militarization of America’s bureaucratic agencies, has merely sped up the timeline by which the nation is transformed into an authoritarian regime.
Now we find ourselves struggling to retain some semblance of freedom in the face of administrative, police and law enforcement agencies that look and act like the military with little to no regard for the Fourth Amendment, laws such as the NDAA that allow the military to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens, and military drills that acclimate the American people to the sight of armored tanks in the streets, military encampments in cities, and combat aircraft patrolling overhead.
This quasi-state of martial law has been helped along by government policies and court rulings that have made it easier for the police to shoot unarmed citizens, for law enforcement agencies to seize cash and other valuable private property under the guise of asset forfeiture, for military weapons and tactics to be deployed on American soil, for government agencies to carry out round-the-clock surveillance, for legislatures to render otherwise lawful activities as extremist if they appear to be anti-government, for profit-driven private prisons to lock up greater numbers of Americans, for homes to be raided and searched under the pretext of national security, for American citizens to be labeled terrorists and stripped of their rights merely on the say-so of a government bureaucrat, and for pre-crime tactics to be adopted nationwide that strip Americans of the right to be assumed innocent until proven guilty and creates a suspect society in which we are all guilty until proven otherwise.
Don’t delude yourself into believing that this thinly-veiled exercise in martial law is anything other than an attempt to bulldoze what remains of the Constitution and reinforce the iron-fisted rule of the police state.
This is no longer about partisan politics or civil unrest or even authoritarian impulses.
This is a turning point.
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, we are sliding fast down a slippery slope to a Constitution-free America.
If we are to have any hope of salvaging what’s left of our battered freedoms, we’d do well to start by disarming the IRS and the rest of the federal and state bureaucratic agencies, de-militarizing domestic police forces, and dismantling the police state’s standing army.
ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His most recent books are the best-selling Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the award-winning A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, and a debut dystopian fiction novel, The Erik Blair Diaries. Whitehead can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.