Congressman Chris Stewart (R., Utah) is pushing legislation to lessen the number of federal agencies who have or are developing SWAT-like teams. The Regulatory Agency De-militarization Act prevents federal agencies that have not traditionally been tasked with enforcing federal law from purchasing machine guns, grenades, and other weaponry, according to a statement from Stewart’s office.
“When there are genuinely dangerous situations involving federal law, that’s the job of the Department of Justice, not regulatory agencies like the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) or the Department of Education,” Stewart said in a statement when he introduced the legislation earlier this summer. “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.”
The statement points to a Department of Agriculture solicitation for submachine guns in May 2014 and recently created special law-enforcement teams at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Department of Education as examples of the problem the legislation would address. According to a 2011 Wall Street Journal report, hundreds of criminal investigators also work directly at agencies such as the Social Security Administration and Environmental Protection Agency. Since he first proposed the bill in June, Stewart has increased the number of co-sponsors of his bill to include 28 fellow House Republicans.