John Walker at Fourmilog has apparently been considering the subject of governments and the coercive powers thereof. (If I were governments, I’d be worried. The man is a formidable thinker. He may just come up with a workable replacement if he decides it’s worth his time.)
His research led him to a fact that is both astounding and frightening–in 2004, there were 104,883 Federal government employees who carried firearms in the course of their work. As he points out (with some hyperbole):
What is stunning are not the items at the top of the table: it makes sense that customs agents, border and federal prison guards, FBI agents, and the like carry guns, but rather those you find as you go down the list. [The “(IG)” annotation indicates that these people work for the Inspector General office of the respective agency, which is kind of its internal security branch.] First of all, look at what ultimately happens if you don’t pay your taxes: there are 2,777 employees of the Internal Revenue Service authorised to carry weapons to shoot you down. Further down the list, we find that the Department of Health and Human Services has need of 374 pistol-packing Inspectors General to maintain its own departmental health by threatening human life. The Department of Housing and Urban Development manages to get along with a mere 213, while the Environmental Protection Agency issues 209 licenses to kill to keep the air and water pristine.
If these numbers don’t worry you, then you need to start paying closer attention.