Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

February 21, 2013

Grassley: Homeland Security may be monopolizing ammo market

Steve Woodhouse

Knoxville — Following a meeting with a Knoxville High School government class Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Chuck Grassley was asked why the Department of Homeland Security has purchased a great deal of ammunition in recent weeks. Grassley admitted he didn't know why, but speculated that the department may be trying to monopolize the market. 

Fox News reported Feb. 14 that Homeland Security intends to buy 1.6 billion rounds over the next five years. Of that, 750 million rounds will be used over the next five years for training by Homeland Security. The remainder will be used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

Grassley speculated that the federal government's purchases may be intended to drive up the price of ammunition. USA Today reported four days ago that gun shops around the country have struggled to keep ammunition in stock. In some places, the price of bullets has surged. 

During Grassley's post-meeting interview, he also addressed the issue of unmanned drones and transparency. Grassley believes that the public's work should be public, though exceptions should be made in cases of national security. 

The discussion turned to President Obama's approval of using drones to kill American citizens, suspected to be terrorists. Grassley said he is trying to access to memos and other documentation regarding how the president feels he can justify this action. American citizens are innocent until proven guilty, have the right to face an accuser and to a trial by a jury of their peers. 

Continuing on national security, Grassley believes that Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense, former Sen. Chuck Hagel, will be confirmed. Grassley made this prediction, though Hagel will not get the Republican Senator from Iowa's support. 

Grassley's counterpart in the Senate, Democrat Tom Harkin, said last week that America is still the richest country in the world and that it does not have a spending problem. However, the nation's debt stands, as of this writing, at $16.5 trillion, and out of a population of over 315 million people, there are 113 million federal income tax payers. 

"We may be the richest nation, but it does not give us the right to be irresponsible," Grassley said. He said that there is a moral component when adding debt and passing these costs on to future generations. 

America has always borrowed money with the belief that it will always be able to borrow more. This is when the debt was only a percentage of the country's gross domestic product. Today's debt is at 100 percent of GDP, and our credit rating has been downgraded. Grassley believes continued spending and borrowing will cause the nation to lose even more leverage. 

The students who took part in Grassley's meeting discussed several topics, including the federal government's role in agriculture, health care, college tuition, the debt and more. Look for more on Grassley's meeting with the students in the Feb. 22 Journal-Express.