Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Reports from across the country confirm that gun owners seeking to stock up on ammunition are facing the same list of problems: shortages, back orders, elevated prices and a long line of people staring at empty shelves where boxes of bullets used to be.
“Just about everywhere I’ve been, it’s sold out,” Darren Lauzon told KMGH-TV in Denver after he failed to find ammunition for his new .45 pistol. “Wal-Mart, Sportsman’s, wherever.”
“Folks have been experiencing shortages all over the country,” a spokesman for the National Rifle Association told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat in California. “Since the election there has been a great increase in firearms sales as well. Background checks are up, enrollment in training and safety classes is up, concealed weapons permits are up, gun sales are up – and ammo manufacturers can’t keep up with demand.”
Gun shops and retailers agree: the press for ammunition is emptying their shelves quicker than the manufacturers can restock them.
“We’re probably selling ammunition right now at a 200 percent increase over normal sales,” said Richard Taylor, manager at the Firing Line in Aurora, Colo.
“We’ve probably got over 4,000 cases of ammunition on back order currently. But we just don’t know when we’re going to receive that,” Taylor told KMGH. “Y2K was just like a little blip on the radar screen compared to this. I mean, it’s just phenomenal.”
A Wal-Mart salesman told Ross Kaminsky of Human Events, “We used to get shipments almost every day. Now we only know we’ll have it when we see it. I get at least a half-dozen calls a day asking for ammunition, especially for handguns, and when it arrives, the customers buy everything.”
The shortages are creating multiple complications for both gun owners and sellers.
KSNW-TV in Wichita reports the cost of ammunition in many Kansas stores has risen between $5 to $15 more per box over the last six months, and even still, many retailers are limiting the amount of ammunition customers can buy.
“It is a bad problem,” Bill Vinduska with Bullseye Firearms told the station, “because we really would rather be able to supply our customers their needs; and not being able to do that is really a problem.”
“When you’re turning down two or three thousand, four thousand dollars a day in sales because you just can’t get the product, that’s significant,” said Burnie Stokes from Panhandle Gunslingers to KFDA-TV in Amarillo, Texas.
Jere Jordan, general manager Midsouth Shooters Supply in Clarksville, Tenn., a company that specializes in mail-order sales of ammunition and reloading supplies, told the Associated Press that his company has sold out of ammunition commonly used in semiautomatic pistols and popular military rifles.
And even though Midsouth is taking orders for supplies used by hobbyists to handload cartridges, Jordan has no idea when they’ll be filled.
“The wait? We’re not even guessing on the wait anymore,” Jordan said. “It’s exceeding 60 days.”
Who’s to blame for shortages?
According to Lawrence Keane, senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade organization representing both manufacturers and retailers, the shortages pinching store owners aren’t the fault of their suppliers.
“We have heard from all across the country that there is a tremendous shortage of ammunition,” Keane told the AP. “We’ve heard this from the manufacturers, that their customers are calling them trying to get supplies for inventory, and that the manufacturers are going full-bore, pardon the pun.”
The shortages, for the most part, stem from a widespread surge in customer demand for ammunition, a surge many link to the election of Barack Obama and the belief, perpetuated in part by the National Rifle Association, that the new president favors limiting the right to bear arms codified in the Second Amendment.
“Sen. Obama’s statements and support for restricting access to firearms, raising taxes on guns and ammunition and voting against the use of firearms for self-defense in the home are a matter of public record,” declares Chris W. Cox, chairman of the NRA’s Political Victory Fund. “Barack Obama would be the most anti-gun president in our nation’s history.”
“After the election,” Midsouth’s Jordan told the AP, “where you have a change of parties to a more liberal side, I would say I guess the conservatives want to protect what they feel might be taken away from them, either through a tax, or an all-out ban.”
“Everybody’s just worried about the new government coming in and trying to ban guns and make everything more difficult to obtain,” NRA member Kevin Bishop told KMGH. “Well, the way [Obama] has been acting, there may be a little truth to the rumor.”
Rich Wyatt, owner of a firearms shop and training facility outside of Denver, told Human Events’ Kaminsky that even “old ladies and young people and liberals” have been buying ammunition from him.
Wyatt’s position seems to be that the new president sparked the ammunition buying frenzy with careless words from the campaign trail, such as when he said small town folks in Pennsylvania “cling to guns or religion” during hard economic times.
“Barack Obama is right about one thing,” Wyatt said. “We are clinging to God and our guns, and I defy him to try to take either one from us.”