Why does Social Security need 174,000 bullets?

The Internet is abuzz with theories about a government agency.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 4, 2012 12:19PM

By Stephen Ohlemacher


WASHINGTON (AP) - It didn't take long for the Internet to start buzzing with conspiracy theories after the Social Security Administration posted a notice that it was purchasing 174,000 hollow-point bullets.


Why is the agency that provides benefits to retirees, disabled workers, widows and children stockpiling ammunition? Whom are they going to use it on?


"It's not outlandish to suggest that the Social Security Administration is purchasing the bullets as part of preparations for civil unrest," the website Infowars.com said.


Another website, The Daily Caller, said the bullets must be for use against American citizens, "since the SSA has never been used overseas to help foreign countries maintain control of their citizens."


The clamor became such a distraction for the agency that it dedicated a website to explaining the purchase. The explanation, it turns out, isn't as tantalizing as an arms buildup to defend against unruly senior citizens.


The bullets are for Social Security's office of inspector general, which has about 295 agents who investigate Social Security fraud and other crimes, said Jonathan L. Lasher, the agency's assistant IG for external relations.


The agents carry guns and make arrests — 589 last year, Lasher said. They execute search warrants and respond to threats against Social Security offices, employees and customers.


Agents carry .357 caliber pistols, Lasher said. The bullets, which add up to about 590 per agent, are for the upcoming fiscal year. Most will be expended on the firing range.


Some bloggers have taken issue with the type of ammunition the agency is buying, questioning why agents need hollow-point bullets. Hollow-points are known for causing more tissue damage than other bullets when they hit a person because they expand when they enter the body.


The bullets, however, are standard issue for many law enforcement agencies, Lasher said, a fact confirmed by the directors of two law enforcement training centers.


"For practice ammunition, they do not have to be hollow-points, but hollow-points are the normal police round used for duty ammunition due to their ability to stop when they hit an object as opposed to going through it and striking more objects," said William J. Muldoon, president of the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training.


The episode illustrates what can happen when a seemingly salacious tidbit gets amplified and embellished on the Internet.


A few weeks ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had a similar dustup when it solicited bids for 46,000 rounds of ammunition and shooting targets, seemingly to arm workers at the National Weather Service. It turns out the notice had a clerical error and the bullets were for NOAA's Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement, the agency said.


Social Security's turn in the pillory hit a crescendo when Jay Leno joked about it in a recent monologue on "The Tonight Show." ''What senior citizens are they worried about?" Leno asked. "I mean, who's going to storm the building?"


Lasher said, "That's why we opened a blog post. We were getting a lot of inquiries and the blog gave us a vehicle to put all of the accurate information out there in one place, so that those who are interested or concerned can read what the real story is."


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Sep 4, 2012 3:45PM

Seems rather strange that they would use hollow points for target practice, unless the targets were human.


Sep 4, 2012 3:44PM

The use of hollow points on a practice range is a waste of OUR money. .....


Sep 4, 2012 3:44PM
174,000 bullets has no effect on harming anyone unless your drop quite a few of them on the individuals.  But, knowing how stupid the government is, they probably went out for bid for for X caliber bullets.

For you other idiots, a bullet is part of a cartridge.  It is discharged from the weapon when the firing pin comes in contact with the cartridge propelling the bullet out of the barrel at high velocity.

We all should feel extremely safe knowing the liberals are buying bullets and not ammunition.  But, buying bullets just adds to the great deficit the present administration has given us.

Why so many more rounds than previous orders. Where is the TRUTH
This story is bull. Why do they need a larger caliber than the police. Most police forces do not use hollow points and in fact the military can't even use hollow points so why not tell the truth. They do not use hollow points at a range, this is a waste of money. Maybe I need a bigger gun and some hollow points to protect myself. Print the real story
Sep 4, 2012 3:34PM
590 per officer isnt much  remember they have to go to the range every month
Sep 4, 2012 3:33PM
So now they are out to help..huh? I guess it is us vesus them..bring on Occupy Social Security....
Sep 4, 2012 3:33PM
This story appeared in the Washington Times 2 weeks ago. I'm surprised this "mainstream media" outlet reported it at all.
Sep 4, 2012 3:31PM
Sep 4, 2012 3:31PM
Sep 4, 2012 3:30PM
As a retired  Police officer I know hollow point ammo is banned by most civilian police departments.
Sep 4, 2012 3:29PM

News items such as this just demonstrate how nutty the right wing has become with all the absurd ideas they conjure as to why government agencies need firearms and bullets.


By the way one of the main reasons for using hollow-point bullets is because they are much safer to use than jacketed bullets. They usually do not travel beyond the intended target, are less likely to ricochet or pass through walls and are thus less likely to hit an innocent bystander or someone in the next room, office or apartment. 

Sep 4, 2012 3:26PM
Senior's should start getting their affairs in order, we are about to be put to sleep, one way of extending SS.  Soylent Green  come true.
Sep 4, 2012 3:20PM

At this point with Obama in control, I am hardly sure what we're being told is true. I think something smells in the state of Denmark if you catch my drift. I find that the SSA needing hollow point bullets totally unnecessary and suspicious.

Sep 4, 2012 3:15PM

this is the same government concerned about your safety i.e. gun control,seat belts, helmets,health insurance,etc. showing their true side... explosive shrapnel bullets to enforce their every whim.


That is Republican and conservative garbage.

They want 174,000 hollow point bullets with which to kill current Social Security recipients.

The Republicans and conservatives want to continue to live off the money paid in by the current recipients and that money will support them for a lifetime and longer, but they won't admit it.

They falsely claim that Social Security is socialism and that they oppose socialism.

That is a lie also.

They are the most socialism addicted people there could ever be.



Sep 4, 2012 3:05PM
To me, "standard"  police use of hollow point bullets is an "excessive force" issue. When a soldier is forbidden by international law to use them in combat, what is it about police use that justifies use as a "standard bullet"?  Perhaps the two AM break down the door warrant served by police wearing armor and uniforms similar to Orwell's 1984?
Sep 4, 2012 2:52PM
Also makes you wonder why Homeland Security has bought 1.5-2.0 billion bullets in the last few month.  Half of those were hollow point.
Sep 4, 2012 2:43PM

No goverment agency personnel are smart enough to carry arms, save it be military or police institutions, eliminate all guns for politicos of any kind, make them use the local, regional, or state police, they are mostly sitting around eating donuts any way. Besides, being judge, jury,  and executioner is not good for weak minded souls!!

We needed to cut severely the size of government there is way to do it, get rid of gun carrying SSA folks and bring the already hired police forces in to the fray, who are actually trained to a minor degree!! Maybe give them some more training and let there be a separation of enforcement and investigation!!

Our government is so weak right now!!

Sep 4, 2012 2:39PM
Still doesn't explain the quantity they're buying.  Making difficult for citizens to get ammo.
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