In January the US Postal Service announced on the Federal Business Opportunities web site that it was planning to buy “assorted small arms ammunition”. People who know anything about the USPS wouldn’t have been particularly surprised about the announcement, given that the USPS has a sizable armed police force, the Postal Inspection Service. But right wing commentators quickly went, well, postal about the news: “USPS ANNOUNCES GIANT AMMO PURCHASE” crowed WND.com. The fact that no quantities were specified in the solicitation wasn’t mentioned.
The claims were so outlandish that even one anti-gun control site felt the need to debunk it. In February, gunssavelives.net carried a post pointing out that the USPS “contains within its organization the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the country – The United States Postal Inspection Service.” The post continues:
So the Postal Service has most likely been purchasing “assorted small arms ammunition” for over 200 years. The department has over 1,000 armed agents. Fourteen USPIS agents have been killed in the line of duty.
Move along, nothing to see here.
But conspiracy theories continued to make the rounds. This past week, Newsmax.com, the most popular right wing extremist news site carried the news. (Newsmax may be popular, but it’s apparently a bit slow on the uptake). While the story made passing reference to the Inspection Service, it also pushed a new theory- that the USPS was trying to drive up the price of ammunition.
Finally this week the USPS issued a statement denying the bizarre story:
U.S. Postal Service PR manager sets the record straight on 4-15-14 Newsmax.com article that USPS hoards ammunition.
The U.S. Postal Service is not hoarding ammunition. The Postal Service Inspection Service is a law enforcement agency and its Inspectors carry firearms. Periodically, the Inspection Service must purchase ammunition for activities like firearms training, required annual firing range qualifications and for duty. As the Postal Service’s primary law enforcement arm, the Inspection Service is a highly specialized, professional organization, which performs investigative and security functions essential to a stable and sound postal system and the security of the U.S. Mail. The Postal Inspection Service has a proud and successful record of fighting criminals who misuse postal services and products to defraud, endanger or otherwise threaten the American public.
Manager, Media Relations
U.S. Postal Service
The USPS statement probably won’t carry much weight with the committed gun nuts out there, but on the bright side, the conspiracy theory seems to be confined to the usual lunatic fringe outlets like Newsmax and Fox News.
If there is a conspiracy behind all the hysteria, the real culprit is probably the gun lobby itself. The big gun companies that underwrite the NRA and the rest of the so-called “second amendment advocate” groups are the only ones who would profit from all this. Like the fella said, “follow the money”! Smith and Wesson are no doubt laughing all the way to the bank!