The Defense Production Act

FBI Seizing Masks in New Jersey

The Defense Production Act is something that the preparedness community overlooks, and it can come back to bite us in this age of social media surveillance and Big Brother.

Passed in 1950, the original intent of the Defense Production Act was to ensure that in the event of another all-out war (most likely at that time with the USSR), the US Defense Department would be able to function, and get the supplies it needed. Seem innocuous and benevolent enough, right?

Well, fast forward to 2020, when people were panicking in regards to the new Coronovirus Pandemic. Masks and gloves were in short supply and President Donald Trump invoked the DPA.

Now, when the President issues a declaration that they are invoking the DPA, a few things happen that can DIRECTLY impact us, as people into preparedness. The President can declare certain items as “critical to national defense”. In this case it was masks, ventilators, and gloves.

The first thing done under the DPA this time around was the immediate forcing of General Motors to switch their production on a few lines from cars to ventilators. I know, the media said that GM decided to “assist”. They made that decision when the government ORDERED THEM TO. Remember that.

Next, it told 3M that they had to issue a Force Majeure notice to cancel all mask sales that were not to the United States. 3M resisted, maintaining that they had plenty of production to meet all orders. Within 24 hours, on April 3, a ship bound for Germany was boarded and 200,000 masks from 3M were seized and re-directed to the US. 3M immediately denied that the masks were 3M masks, but Attorney General Barr said that they were.

But, what does any of this have to do with preparedness? Well, let’s continue…

The next thing done was that the Attorney General established a “Hoarding Task Force”. Under 50 USC 4512, “Hoarding of Designated Scarce Materials”, you can be arrested and imprisoned for 1 year or fined $10,000 for having any quantity “in excess of reasonable person or home consumption” OR “for sale in excess of market value”. It’s important to note the word “OR”.

While the AG announced “dozens” of hoarding investigations, only one arrest was made public. A man had lawfully purchased 192,00 N95 masks, 130,000 surgical masks, and 598,000 pairs of gloves. The FBI declared him a “hoarder” and arrested him on April 2, seizing the masks. They issued a statement that he was going to sell them “above market value” as a price gouger, but it’s important to note that market value was skyrocketing anyway, because of the market. They never produced any proof of their claim.

This important to us because the President can declare any “commodity” scarce and critical. Food is a commodity. This means that they can seize your food preps if the local FEMA manager decides that you have an amount in excess of reasonable personal or home use.

Imagine, in an emergency, you’ve loaded up your car with a few months of food, and several extra cans of gas. As you are leaving the city with riots behind you, you pull up to a joint State Police/Homeland Security checkpoint (yes, that’s a real thing). The Troopers call over the DHS guys, and they decide that your food and gas stocks are “in excess of personal or home use”. How’s that going to work out?

We have seen over the last few weeks a drama play out about the federal government scouring social media for “vaccine mis-information”. How hard would it be to look for photos or discussions about food storage, food supplies, or food preparation? If you’ve talked about these things, you may have put your supplies at risk. I highly recommend using OPSEC here.

Here’s a piece of Tactical Wisdom that applies:

Divide your portions to seven, or even to eight,

For you do not know what disaster may come upon the Land.

Ecclesiates 11:2

Spread your supplies out among several locations, so that if one is seized or revealed, you aren’t giving up everything. This is reinforced also in 1 Kings 18:4, when Obediah hid 100 priests with food & water, split between 2 caves. While he was forced to reveal one group, the other half survived.

The most important thing is that for them to determine how much you have stored up, they have to either execute a search or ask you. If only 1/8th of your supplies are found on a search, they can’t declare you a hoarder. They would need to get you to incriminate yourself. Refuse to answer their questions, as is your right under the 5th Amendment, even in an emergency. Refuse to cooperate with a search as well, your actions in showing them the “hidden wall of cans” is admissible and you can’t be compelled to do it. No, Feds, I’m not saying I have a wall of cans.

Another important distinction is that they can also declare items listed on the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR) as critical, and also subject to seizure. Those include things like handheld GPS units and radios. How many radios are needed for personal/home use? That’s a very subjective question and the FEMA manager gets to decide. I can tell you that they will say that you need ZERO GPS units for home use, since your house hasn’t moved.

Gas Station Lines

While the DPA specifically prohibits the President from rationing gasoline (widely unpopular during WW2), it does specifically allow the President to “allocate energy use”. In other words, the President can decide that residential areas don’t get electricity or gasoline at all. It’s not rationing if you can’t get it at all.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “This is all far-fetched, no President would order the limiting of gasoline to civilians”. Sure, and the government would never order you to remain in your homes unless you had a specific, approved reason to go out either. There is literally no basis for governments at any level to order businesses to just close, yet they did. These items at least have a solid basis in law.

The important side note is that effective January 3, 2016, and re-authorized on Jan 3, 2017, the President (Obama at the time) delegated the authority to make all decisions after an initial declaration, to FEMA. FEMA once ordered the confiscation of guns door to door, so they would certainly order the restriction of gasoline sales. Get a siphon pump.

I certainly don’t mean this to be alarmist, but it’s an issue that anyone involved in preparedness needs to consider and plan for to reduce their risk. After all, preparedness is nothing more than managing our risk.

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Published by JD

I am the author of the Tactical Wisdom Series. I am a personal protection specialist and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. I conduct preparedness and self-defense training.

2 thoughts on “The Defense Production Act

  1. Yo feds, I’ve got 8 walls of cans! Siphon pump? When I was 19 the cop pulled my length of fuel line out of the back of my truck and called it a Colorado credit card!..


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