The United States Postal Service recently posted a pre-solicitation for “Assorted Small Arms Ammunition” and joins a long line of federal agencies buying up large quantities of ammunition. The USPS is looking for interested suppliers to register in order to be considered once the agency submits its actual solicitation and accepts bids. The USPS later noted that the buy is a “standard purchase” for the Postal Inspection Service, the little-known “Postal Police who investigate postal crime and protect USPS personnel and facilities.

While no one begrudges the USPS for needing to equip its internal law enforcement arm, this planned purchase at a time when commercial ammo supplies continue to be low and prices remain high is sure to cause some grumbling.

Add to this the fact that a number of other purchases by the federal government, some of them quite large, have already made the topic a controversial one. The Department of Homeland Security reportedly has amassed a 1.6 billion round stockpile of ammunition and is continuing to expand it, while purchases by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Agriculture have done little to take the pressure of ammo producers who are frequently working around the clock to keep up with demand as it is. Citizens who are concerned with what is often called the “militarization of the police” will no doubt wonder what the NOAA and the Department of Agriculture, let alone the Postal Service, need with so much ammunition.

A year ago, Breitbart news reported that despite expansion and extra shifts, ammo producers such as Hornady and Black Hills Ammunition were struggling to keep up not because of the government contracts, but because of “politically-induced buying panics” that the large government orders were creating.

Will the Postal Service’s plans add to the panic?