With Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) retiring at the end of this Congress, I don't think there's any doubt who'll replace her as Congress' silliest conspiracy theorist.
Rep. Jeff Duncan wants to know why IRS law enforcement agents are training with AR-15 rifles.As chairman of the House Homeland Security oversight subcommittee, Duncan (R-S.C.) toured a federal law enforcement facility in late May and noticed agents training with the semi-automatic weapons at a firing range. They identified themselves as IRS, he said."When I left there, it's been bugging me for weeks now, why IRS agents are training with a semi-automatic rifle AR-15, which has stand-off capability," Duncan told POLITICO. "Are Americans that much of a target that you need that kind of capability?"
If Duncan's name sounds familiar, it's because he's developed quite a reputation lately. The South Carolina Republican, for example, is afraid of the Census Bureau. He's also the same congressman who spewed bizarre conspiracy theories -- which he apparently learned from Glenn Beck -- about the Boston Marathon bombing, going so far that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano felt the need to say Duncan's ignorant inquiries were "full of misstatements and misapprehensions," and "not worthy of an answer."
But what the rifle training for IRS officials? Maybe Duncan has a legitimate concern? Actually, no.
In a statement, the tax agency explained, "As law enforcement officials, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agents are equipped similarly to other federal, state and local law enforcement organizations. Special Agents receive training on the appropriate and safe use of assigned weapons. IRS Criminal Investigation has internal controls and oversight in place to ensure all law enforcement tools, including weapons are used appropriately."
All of this has the benefit of being true. Indeed, the IRS often investigates drug-trafficking operations, so it stands to reason officials would be well armed.
What's more, as Steve M. noted, IRS guidelines were revised in this area in 2003. Note to Duncan: that was before President Obama took office.
I'll just throw one more thought out there, in the hopes that the House GOP leadership will think it over: maybe this guy shouldn't be the chairman of the House Homeland Security oversight subcommittee?