On Monday afternoon, Fox News ran a segment suggesting that the Department of Homeland Security is buying up large quantities of ammunition to prevent law-abiding Americans from defending themselves. The story came two days after the DHS justified the purchases in a letter to lawmakers and Fox itself dismissed the theory as a conspiracy in its signature nightly news broadcast.
Conservative websites — including Alex Jones’ Info Wars — have been buzzing for months about DHS’ efforts to allegedly buy-up 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition to exacerbate shortages and disarm Americans in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting.
A number of Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Doug LaMalfa (CA), Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), have written letters to DHS asking “whether the purchases are part of a deliberate attempt to restrict supply to the American people” and on Monday Fox News’ America Live hosted LaMalfa to discuss his concerns:
MEGYN KELLY (HOST) Is the government buying up bullets to use against us? Are you one of those who believes that?
LAMALFA: Well, that might be reaching a little far at this point. We’ve asked the questions of DHS. What is the reasoning behind doing this? And when you talk to your constituents out there across my area and across the whole country there is an extreme shortage of ammunition as it is now. And when they hear a story like this, is this what’s contributing to us not being able to get ammunition for our sporting or protection or what have you. And we’ve asked questions of dhs what are your procurement standards here and why are you doing it this way and we’re hearing well, it’s over a five-year period and buying it in bulk, okay. We might be able to appreciate that, but it is a heck of a lot of rounds of ammunition and for some very dubious-sounding reasons.
The segment seems misplaced, however, since DHS responded to lawmakers’ questions about the purchase on Friday and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer dismissed the story as a conspiracy theory that night on Special Report. Watch the two side-by-side:
In its letter to lawmakers, the agency explained that it regularly purchases ammunition in bulk to save money and noted that “the 1.6 billion number was misleading because the language of DHS’s purchase said it would need ‘up to’ a certain amount.” That letter came a month after DHS offered a detailed justification of its purchase to Coburn in February, who later claimed that he was satisfied with the reply.
As Krauthammer explained to Fox News viewers on March 22, “Senator Coburn who isn’t exactly a liberal said number one the amount of ammunition is less than in previous years. Number two, it’s about a tenth of the ceiling that the DHS has allowed,” he said, adding, that the ammunition is “being used for the training of agents like the border security agents who have to go to the range a lot and stay sharp.”
“I hate to disappoint the conspiracy theorists, they’re gonna have to come up with something new and they will,” he concluded. Apparently, his fellow Fox News hosts and producers are still coming up short.