Unless you have been sleeping under a rock in the forest, you have probably heard something in the news about booming gun and ammunition sales and the resulting shortages. And if you are a gun owner who wants to just go out and shoot you have experienced it. Here are my reflections of what is happening as an independent firearms retailer.
Everything you are hearing in the news is true. We normally have 30 – 40 handguns in our cabinet. We are down to about ten and only some temporary relief in sight. Every January we renew what is referred to as Stocking Dealer Programs with the major handgun manufacturers (Glock, Springfield, Ruger, etc.). That was nearly three months ago just as all this craziness hit its peak. To date we have received about one-third of our Glocks, only one of 15 Springfields, and none of our Rugers. We also have not received any of the increasingly popular CZ pistols from that same order. We do occasionally get in some Beretta handguns but only because we are a direct dealer for them. I still have about 20 handguns backordered with Beretta. We have no idea when any of these guns will arrive.
As distressing as that is for the person looking for a new gun, the thing that is most disconcerting to me is the shortage of ammunition. I’ve spoken to several people who have been in the business longer that us, both from the retail and wholesale arenas, and they say it has never been this bad. We get calls daily from people looking for .22 LR and 9mm target ammo. We are out and have been for two weeks as of this writing. You looking for 5.56/.223 ammo? We might get a case of 20 boxes in every two weeks but it is gone in one day. During the shortage back in 2009 we never had problems getting shotgun target ammunition. Now we have to search to find it.
The reason the ammo shortage disturbs me so much is because the person who already has a gun can’t even go out and shoot or is shooting less because of it. We sponsor a Spring/Summer sporting clays at the store and we are going to be hard pressed to make sure we have enough shotgun shells for people to purchase. It is truly disheartening to see a father come in with his young son or daughter looking for .22 LR to go out for a little shooting fun just to be told we are out and don’t know when any will come in.
So what’s causing this ammo shortage? There are a lot of rumors floating around, the primary being the government is buying it all to keep it out of our hands. Not true. The government did put out a contract proposal for a lot of ammo recently but it was not a purchase, just a call for bids. Anyway, why would the government need a whole bunch of .22 LR and shotgun ammo? No, the answer is the old Pogo comic strip quote, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
There are two sides to this. First, people are panic buying and hoarding ammunition, stockpiling way more ammunition than they will shoot or ever need. I tell folks ammunition is comfort food for gun owners. It’s like mac-n-cheese or chocolate ice cream to other folks. Gunners buy it up under times of stress and all the gun control rhetoric is causing that stress.
The second part is the worst. I know this for a fact from reliable sources. There are organized groups that go to the large retailers on the days they receive ammunition and buy it all up. Because these retailers sell at or below retail price these folks are then able to take that ammunition and sell it at flea markets, gun shows, or on the internet for ridiculous prices. Don’t believe me? Go to gunbroker.com and see what a carton of 500 rounds of .22 LR is selling for. The last I heard that $40- 50 carton of ammo was selling for $80 – 100. One customer told me he saw a $250 case of .22 LR target ammo sell for over $600 on the internet.
Folks, the consumer can stop this craziness. First, we only buy the ammo we need for right now. And second stop paying these insane prices for ammo. Let’s take a breath and remain calm. Let the industry catch up and we will all be able to enjoy our shooting sports.