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Local gun dealers see shortage of ammunition
The U.S. Congress this week will be taking up proposed gun-control measures that include expanded background checks and harsher penalties for gun trafficking.
The proposals come in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and President Barack Obama has indicated he will sign new gun-control legislation. On the state level, Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut signed legislation Thursday that prohibits the sale of magazines that hold more than 15 bullets and requires background checks for all private gun sales in his state.
The pending legislation in Congress and the action taken in Connecticut could result in local gun sellers experiencing a high demand for ammunition.
"The ammo shortage is real," said Lanell Lang, owner of Shooters Gun Shop Inc., 335 Christine St. in Cape Girardeau. "It's not just here, but nationwide. What little ammo we get in, it's gone pretty quick."
Lang said she has had no choice but to put customer requests for ammunition on back-order.
"There's no time frame for when a distributor can get an ammo order to us," she said. "Before Sandy Hook, an order would take a couple of weeks, if not sooner. Now we don't know when things will arrive."
Lang said demand for ammunition could be stemming from gun-control legislation.
"We don't know for sure," she said, "but a lot of gun owners are scared."
Jeff Poole, owner of Absolute Arms and Ammo, 2000 William St. in Cape Girardeau, said that whenever there is a shooting tragedy and subsequent proposed gun-control legislation, there is a run on guns and ammunition.
"Legislation that comes after a tragedy adds fuel to the fire," Poole said. "Business was up about 50 percent for guns and ammo after the gun-control talk started. But since my inventory is low due to high demand, business has finally slowed."
Another consequence of the demand for ammunition is that local law-enforcement agencies are experiencing longer waits for orders from distributors, something Cape Girardeau County Sheriff John Jordan confirmed.
"We have plenty of ammo," Jordan said. "But it's harder to get. Where we used to wait a couple of weeks for an order now takes about a month. But we've stayed pretty far ahead on orders."
Lt. Barry Hovis of the Cape Girardeau Police Department said he's been waiting longer than a month for certain ammunition.
"We're needing more .40-caliber hollow points and .233-caliber bullets for rifles," Hovis said.
Hovis added he usually reissues ammunition for duty weapons every fall.
"I didn't replace any last fall because I'm still waiting for the order we made in August to come in," he said.
Hovis attributes the department's wait for ammunition to panicked gun owners, the country being at war against terrorism and possibly the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C.
"You've got a high demand because people are concerned about weapons and ammo restrictions," he said. "Our country is also at war and the military obviously needs their share. But I've also heard that Homeland Security has purchased over a billion rounds of ammunition that's further decreasing supply."
The Department of Homeland Security was established in 2002, and given the primary responsibilities of protecting the U.S. and its territories from and responding to terrorist attacks, man-made accidents and natural disasters. Under its umbrella are several government agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and the U.S. Secret Service.
Peter Boogaard, a Homeland Security spokesman, said in an email to the Southeast Missourian that the agency was not stockpiling ammunition.
"Although a small reserve in terms of the overall ammunition is usually kept by the department's law-enforcement agencies, most do not have the capability to store large amounts of ammunition," Boogaard said.
A departmentwide contract allows the purchase of up to 450 million rounds of duty ammunition for the agency's law-enforcement officers and agents, according to Boogaard.
"The contract is intended to be used by all DHS agencies, except the U.S. Coast Guard, which uses U.S. Department of Defense ammunition contracts," he said.
Ammunition manufacturers are working round-the-clock to keep up with the current demand.
According to J.J. Reich, spokesman for Federal Premium Ammunition in Anoka, Minn., the current market and environment is causing stronger than usual demand for his company's products.
"Our facilities operate 24 hours a day," Reich said. "We are continually making process improvements to increase our efficiency where we have sustained demand."
335 Christine St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.
2000 William St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.
40 S. Sprigg St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.
216 N. Missouri St., Jackson, Mo.