December 7, 2015
House Republicans are considering legislation intended to de-militarizing federal agency SWAT-like teams.
An unintended result of The Homeland Security Act of 2002 has led agencies such as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Food and Drug Administration and others to create teams to conduct raids and arrests.
According to Chris Stewart, Representative from Utah, and other Republicans say the federal government has gone too far.
“I understand that federal agents must be capable of protecting themselves, but what we have observed goes far beyond providing necessary protection,” he said. “When there are genuinely dangerous situations involving federal law, that’s the job of the Department of Justice, not regulatory agencies like the FDA or the Department of Education.”
He notes that in 2010, the FDA mounted an armed raid against a grocery store that was accused of selling raw milk. Agents from the Department of Education and the Bureau of Land Management have conducted similar armed raids.
“Not only is it overkill, but having these highly armed units within dozens of agencies is duplicative, costly, heavy handed, dangerous and destroys any sense of trust between citizens and the federal government,” he added.
His bill, the Regulatory Agency De-militarization Act, or the RAD Act, would repeal the arrest and firearm authority given to inspector general offices in 2002. It would prohibit agencies not traditionally involved in law enforcement from buying machine guns and other weapons.
It would also require a report to be written that details every agency that is getting tactical, military training.
His bill was introduced just before a shooting unfolded in San Bernardino, California, that resulted in the death of 14 victims, plus the two suspects. That event, like the many shootings over the last few years, has led to calls for tighter gun restrictions nationwide.
It is also again leading many Democrats to say Republicans are stubbornly resisting new, nationwide gun restrictions at a time when most people support some steps in that direction.
Stewart’s bill is co-sponsored by Republican Reps. Mark Amodei of Nevada, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, Sam Graves of Missouri, and Reid Ribble of Wisconsin.