Social Security Bullets Prompt Web Scrutiny, Large Purchase Raises Eyebrows

The Social Security Administration’s large purchase of bullets has puzzled and intrigued the internet, as many web conspiracy buffs have interpreted the unusual tidbit of information as a harbinger of something sinister.

The Social Security bullets story does indeed pan out to a degree; the agency purchased more that 170,000 rounds of ammunition, and, in addition, the purchase was of hollow point bullets, known to cause a lot more damage to tissue when a person is struck.

The Social Security bullets tale has grown legs on the web where many far-right leaning blogs and sites have interpreted the news as confirmation that some sort of marshal law or forced redistribution is brewing given the fact that the Social Security Administration has not, historically, been an agency known to require much in the way of firearms and ammunition.

Back in August, the folks over at Snopes were able to trace the rumor to its origins and sort the truth from the exaggerations in the Social Security bullets challenge. And as it turns out, the Social Security Administration did put out a quote to purchase the bullets — but not in order to quell potential civil unrest.

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The SSA itself also addressed the bullets rumor on its blog, and it seems that, like with much of the truth, the actuality behind the tale is far more mundane than one might expect. Per the SSA, the agency has armed agents, like cops, to investigate fraud and suchlike. The SSA explains:

“As we said in a recent post, our office has criminal investigators, or special agents, who are responsible for investigating violations of the laws that govern SSA’s programs. Currently, about 295 special agents and supervisory special agents work in 66 offices across the United States. These investigators have full law enforcement authority, including executing search warrants and making arrests … Our investigators are similar to your State or local police officers. They use traditional investigative techniques, and they are armed when on official duty.”

The blog post on Social Security bullets continues:

“Media reports expressed concerns over the type of ammunition ordered. In fact, this type of ammunition is standard issue for many law enforcement agencies. OIG’s special agents use this ammunition during their mandatory quarterly firearms qualifications and other training sessions, to ensure agent and public safety. Additionally, the ammunition our agents use is the same type used at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.”

You can read the Social Security bullets explanation in full over on the Office of the Inspector General of Social Security’s “Beyond the Numbers” blog.