Mark Keefe at the NRA has penned an article for the American Rifleman in which he attempts to explain the very real shortage of ammunition and re-loading supplies like powder and primers currently of great concern to shooters, hunters and gun owners across America.
In case you hadn’t noticed, we are in the midst of an ammunition, primer and propellant shortage. Stories are making both local and national news, and rumors abound on the Internet. I understand there have been large Federal contracts, but those cannot come close to explaining the increased demand for ammunition and components. There is more than a billion—that’s billion with a “B”—rounds of .22 Long Rifle produced in this country every year. One estimate puts it at closer to a billion and a half. The DHS has not bought a billion and a half rounds of .22 LR, so it cannot be pinned on them. Also, it is unlikely to me that Janet Napolitano is trying to corner the world market on Hodgdon Varget, even though it is one of my favorite go-to powders.
I have some anecdotal evidence of what is going on here. A friend called me from the parking lot of a gun store in Southwest Virginia, “Mark, I just scored 5,000 rounds of Federal .22 Long Rifle!” I cut his euphoria short by saying, “Tim, you have never bought more than 500 rounds of anything before.” To which he replied, “Yeah, but I bought all they had.” I believe Tim’s “score” is being replicated all across the country every time the UPS truck arrives.
There is a downstream effect of such purchasing behavior. When people are motivated by external political exigencies to purchase more ammunition than they customarily purchase, there is less ammunition for others. Friends of mine are hesitant to go to the range and shoot as they don’t know when they can replenish their ammunition supply. That goes for matches, too.
Speculation has also played a role....Ammunition purchased opportunistically at larger retail outlets—which have not raised their prices to the gouge level—is going for three to five times the retail price. Again, supply, demand and scarcity. When a product is scarce, you can charge more for it. And those that have the product, often do so. Whether it results in an ammunition equivalent of the South Sea Company Bubble of 1720, remains to be seen. It is my belief as the political agitation slows, shelves will slowly start filling again.
This is good to know, and hopefully a reasoned approach to the problem being faced by many gun owners might help to slow the wild buying spree caused by that political agitation.
And this might help too. It appears that the assault weapon bill will not likely win in the Senate, even though it did make it out of committee on a strictly party line vote. Soon, hopefully, it will be "shoot em if you got em" again.