A Quick Answer To Why The USDA Might Want SMGs: The Forest Service

Posted: May 18, 2014 by ShortTimer in FedGov, Government, Guns

Update 2: Looks like USDA this time is using them more exclusively for their OIG, which means they probably sit in a locker somewhere until those guys need to serve a warrant.  Either way, the rest of the post stands.

A Breitbart story via HotAir, but it’s also around the internet:

A May 7th solicitation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeks “the commercial acquisition of submachine guns [in] .40 Cal. S&W.”

According to the solicitation, the Dept. of Agriculture wants the guns to have an “ambidextrous safety, semiautomatic or 2 round [bursts] trigger group, Tritium night sights front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore group) and scope (top rear), stock collapsible or folding,” and a “30 rd. capacity” magazine.

They also want the submachine guns to have a “sling,” be “lightweight,” and have an “oversized trigger guard for gloved operation.”

The solicitation is from the USDA’s Office of Inspector General, and another of their solicitations submitted on the same day (May 7th) is looking for the “commerical acquisition of ballist vests, compliant with NIJ 0101.06 for Level IIIA Ballistic Resistance of body armor… Body armor is gender specific, lightweight, trauma plate/pad (hard or soft), concealable carrier, tactical vest, undergarment (white), identification patches, accessories (6 pouches), body armor carry bag, and professional measurements.”

The SMGs they’re basically asking for are things like the HK UMP 40 that several DHS components carry (USBP, for example).

oleg volk UMP40

Photo by Oleg Volk.

The Forest Service falls under USDA, and the Forest Service has to deal with things like this:

A marijuana farm with more than 3,000 plants — valued at about $9 million — was found in the Pike National Forest in Douglas County.

“These grow operations are believed to be connected to the Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) that have proliferated on public lands throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Utah, and are now being found in the northeastern, southeastern and southwestern states,” said U.S. Forest Service Special Agent in Charge Laura Mark.

usfs grow op raid 1

The criminals with grow operations tend to guard their crops:

One of the wardens who went to the site found makeshift huts and crude rooms hidden under tarps and disguised in trees. There were rifles and pistols. In other similar illegal drug grow operations, the warden said booby traps and other devices have been used.

This tends to fly under the radar, since it’s out where no one sees it.  While DEA or FBI or some other agency could make a special “arboreal operations unit”, the Forest Service already works those areas, knows the areas, and will be the first to respond, and has the jurisdiction and specific enforcement authority protection of national forests.

Again:

Marcos Solano Farias, 32, and Joe Miseal Avaia Talavera, 20, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to charges of unlawful manufacture with intent to distribute more than 1,000 marijuana plants. They also pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a firearm and damage to government property.

Police raided two outdoor marijuana growing operations in the forest a few miles from Highway 21 in Boise County on Sept. 11. The two men, Mexico nationals, were taken into custody at a camp located next to the grow site on Rabbit Creek.

A total of 1,411 live plants, along with several hundred plants that had been harvested, were confiscated. Officers also seized two semi-automatic handguns and a rifle.

And an official “awareness” warning from the USFS:

Illegal drug operations, such as marijuana gardens and methamphetamine production sites, threaten public safety and also damage the environment.

For many years, the Forest Service and other law enforcement agencies have worked together to identify and clean-up illegal drug operations on National Forest lands in Michigan. In recent years, these illegal activities have increased.  For example, 2010 marked the first time that authorities found marijuana grow sites on Michigan’s National Forest lands operated by large drug trafficking organizations.

Thing is, it’s their beat, and USFS law enforcement is who works those areas and who has to be the first one on the scene.  If they get a call that a hiker stumbled over a meth lab on an old logging road and got shot at by the meth cook, they’re the ones who have to go deal with it and have to act because they’re the ones on-scene, and the ones with the knowledge of the area.  If they personally stumble over it, they’re the ones who may have to deal with it immediately.

So there’s little reason they shouldn’t have the option to carry an SMG that’s lighter weight than a rifle, more handy, and convenient.  It’s not as if submachineguns are a new thing for law enforcement.

them trooper with smg

While a fictional example there, no one batted an eye decades ago to the idea that law enforcement working in remote locations with no backup (like, say, rural highways, remote borders, and national forests) should have the option to carry something to at least get themselves out of a bad situation.

Or maybe I’m just the only person who’s seen Without A Paddle and remembers anything from it?

without a paddle 1

While it’s pretty much always good to be skeptical and critical of government, this one, much like DHS’s ammo purchases, may not be so crazy if you assess it a bit more and if it’s USDA procuring weapons for a specific group of law enforcement with a dangerous task.

Unless this is for the anti-raw milk task force.  Then all bets are off.

Update: Minor point that I’ve seen some folks asking is why SMGs in particular, why not rifles (or shotguns)?

Because SMGs are lightweight, they have ease of use, share ammunition with pistols which makes for ease of logistical use, and are compact.  There are all kinds of organizational advantages to have just from those positives alone.  Plus the agencies may already have rifles, and just want to add one more option for their personnel to carry.  Anyone who’s carried a rifle all day can tell you they get heavy.  Anyone who’s not used to carrying a rifle all day is going to really appreciate the saved weight by going from a rifle or carbine to an SMG.  Same goes for shotguns, but they have more limited ammunition capacity, slower reloads, recoil, and other negatives.  So why not have the option to use any of the three?

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