An agreement between the Army and one of the nation’s largest ammunition manufacturers is coming under new scrutiny because a little-known provision allows a government facility to produce hundreds of millions of rounds for the retail market.
For more than a decade, contracts between the Pentagon and a series of private companies allowed one Army site, the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, to become one of the world’s largest commercial suppliers of cartridges for AR-15-style guns. Is allowed.
Kansas City, Mo., during World War II. Built to supply the U.S. military, the plant has in recent years directed most of its production toward the commercial market, including sales to retailers, law enforcement agencies, and foreign governments.
A New York Times investigation published this month traced a dozen mass shootings in Lake City and numerous other crimes across the country since 2012.
Following the Times article, several members of Congress questioned the benefits of the Army’s arrangement with current contractor Olin Winchester and demanded more information from the Army.
In a letter to the Army secretary on Friday, Representative Robert Garcia, Democrat of California, said that “federal subsidies may artificially increase the availability of ammunition in the civilian market and contribute to serious violence by private citizens.”
The letter further stated, “This raises serious questions about the Department of the Army’s role in subsidizing the firearms industry and the level of oversight performed by the Department in support of plant operations.”
Mr. Garcia cited The Times’ reporting as well as Bloomberg’s later published Articles about Lake City,
Another Democratic member of the House, Betty McCollum of Minnesota, also expressed concern about the “troubling use” of Lake City ammunition in the mass shooting.
“More questions need to be asked and answered about how this ammunition is being marketed to the American public,” he said in a statement. “I would request the Army to provide information on how contracts are issued at this plant.”
While the Army has been public about commercial ammunition production in Lake City, it has obscured the scale, arguing that the information is confidential and can only be released by the contractor. That secrecy has prevented actual public monitoring of the contract.
The Army says the arrangement, which requires contractors to maintain the capacity to produce about 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition per year, is vital to national security and has saved taxpayers millions of dollars. The Pentagon has invested more than $860 million in improvements and maintenance at the plant over the past two decades, The Times previously reported.
The Times investigation found that Lake City rounds, which are typically stamped with the plant’s initials, “LC”, were used in massacres including at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.; a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas; a high school in Parkland, Florida; and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. He has also been involved in several other criminal investigations ranging from robberies to murders of police officers. Authorities have seized pills from drug dealers, biker gangs, violent criminals and rioters at the US Capitol.
Earlier this month, Mr. Garcia, along with Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, introduced a bill aimed at imposing greater controls on ammunition sales — which largely Till are unregulated – sellers are required to obtain one. Federal licensing and background checks on buyers. It would also limit the wholesale sale of ammunition and prevent so-called straw purchases, in which a buyer with a clean record sells to someone else.
In a statement, Ms. Warren criticized the Lake City contract and called for “meaningful oversight” by Congress.
He said, “It is inappropriate for the U.S. government to be in the business of making military-grade ammunition to sell to civilians.”
The revelations have also outraged gun control supporters and families of shooting victims.
Fred Guttenberg, the father of a high school student killed in Parkland, Florida, wrote on social media, “Lake City rounds like these were likely used to kill my daughter and the sale would have been subsidized by the US government, This is difficult.” for understanding.”