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IRS Agent Killed in Shooting Range Accident

Twitter/@RepThomasMassie

On Thursday, August 17th, an Internal Revenue Service Agent was shot and killed by another agent during a training exercise at a Federal Correctional Institution firing range.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) said they’re actively looking into a “shooting incident” that occurred at the Federal Correctional Institutional (FCI) Phoenix firing range on Thursday afternoon. However, the FBOP hasn’t been able to provide additional specifics at this time.

The FBOP said that the gun range was in use by multiple federal agencies during the occurrence.

The IRS confirmed that an agent had been transported to the hospital following the occurrence, but regrettably did not survive.

In case anyone was still wondering why some of us are concerned about armed agents of government having the run of our communities, here's another reason.

Some years back - okay, many years back, in the early Eighties - I was training up a young gun dog in the various things she needed to know for her work in pursuit of pheasants, grouse, and partridge. To that end, I signed up for a class in basic gun dog training, which we attended with our dogs, and which was held in an indoor facility that the local cops, county Sheriff's officers, and state police used as an indoor firing range. An examination of the plywood shooting stations was illustrative. There were bullet holes in the ceiling above the firing points, in the plywood dividers between firing points, and chips in the cement floor under the firing points. I never had occasion to see the local cops on the range, although even in those younger years of my early twenties, I became pretty convinced that I was a much more accomplished pistolero than our local lawmen. In those days, I could draw and reflex-fire (that is, firing without using the sights - "from the hip," as the saying goes) and could dump five rounds from an old '51 Colt Navy six-gun into a paper plate at 10 yards as fast as I could thumb the hammer and fire. I shot a lot; from the time I was about twelve, a lot of whatever money I earned went into ammo.

Coming in with that experience, I quickly became convinced that if one of our local cops shot at a shadow, the safest place to be was probably in the shadow.

There's an important distinction to be made here; these, both the Phoenix accident and my observations of the local cops' range, are training incidents. It's common to criticize law enforcement when they dump what seems like an excessive number of rounds into an armed suspect; I'm willing to cut the cops a little slack when they are, effectively, in combat, possibly receiving return fire, quite often in the dark, when they are super-charged on adrenaline and shooting from cover behind a vehicle or other obstacle.

But local cops are one thing. The real question here is, what is the IRS doing running agents through what appears to have been (there are still no details on precisely what kind of training was being conducted) some kind of tactical live-fire exercise? What, precisely, are these agents being trained to do?

This is especially concerning since, only last spring, we learned that the IRS was looking to hire agents willing to use force.

All successful applicants will be required to carry a firearm and “must be prepared to protect him/herself or others from physical attacks at any time and without warning and use firearms in life-threatening situations; must be willing to use force up to and including the use of deadly force,” according to the website listing.

Agents must also be “willing and able to participate in arrests, execution of search warrants, and other dangerous assignments.” while maintaining “a level of fitness necessary to effectively respond to life-threatening situations on the job.”

The IRS excuses this by noting that their agents, in addition to conducting tax return audits, also investigate money-laundering operations (for any suspect whose last name is not Biden) and even investigate terrorist financing schemes. 

But aren't those kinds of possibly dangerous situations why we have the U.S. Marshal's service?

The U.S. government has a troubling history with the use of armed force. This incident, while sad and regrettable, has all the hallmarks of a training program being rushed into use, to prepare people with tactical skills to do... what? The possibilities can only be of grave concern to anyone who values individual liberty. The IRS already has dismal approval ratings with the American public, and while the use of force guidelines have long been part of the IRS's operating procedures, the sudden and dramatic expansion of armed IRS agents - and the apparent haste with which their training is being conducted - is troubling.

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