The Justice Department is updating a report on how many guns the federal government has.
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It will be the first time Justice has addressed the topic in six years, and it comes as conservative and libertarian complaints about an excessively gun-happy government have intensified.
The issue was central to the recent controversy generated by a stand-off between right-wing rancher Cliven Bundy and agents from the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada.
Bundy and his supporters argued an armed federal government threatened too much force in a dispute over grazing and public lands. But critics of Bundy worry that the decision by federal and local officials to back off in response to armed resistance by Bundy and his supporters could embolden self-styled militia groups.
The Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) will undertake this year’s report. It will begin surveying federal agencies about how many of their agents carry guns and have the authority to make arrests in July, according to the author of the 2008 version Brian Reaves.
It is not clear when the data will be finalized, though the final release could take until early 2015.
Six years ago, the Justice Department found that 73 government agencies employed about 120,000 armed agents.