I took my trusty old M1911 to the shooting range a few times this month in preparation for my concealed carry class at the end of the month. I was advised to bring 50 rounds of ammunition to the class. I hadn’t bought handgun ammo in over a year. As I burnt up my ammo supply in practice, I figured it would be no problem to stop by the local Thiesen’s or Wal-Mart and pick up another box. Boy, was I wrong! A nation-wide shortage of all types of ammunition, handgun ammunition in particular, has emptied store shelves.
My friend (a first-time gun owner) spent the other day driving around Cedar Rapids (Iowa’s second largest city) looking for his particular caliber and type. He went from store to store only to find the ammo shelves bare. At one store they said that the delivery truck arrived at 11:00 am on Thursdays and that the handgun ammo was usually gone by noon. Apparently you practically have to help unload the truck yourself if you want some ammo. My friend ended up at hardware store in a small town outside C.R. paying 50 bucks for 50 rounds.
There are several causes to the shortage. The long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have helped to dwindle ammunition supplies, as suppliers give priority to military orders over civilian sales. The largest cause of the shortage, however, is fear. Buyers are snapping up ammunition and hoarding it while they still can.
Many gun owners, including an increasing number of first-time gun buyers, are afraid that President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress will move to outlaw or excessively regulate guns and ammo. Some previously proposed legislation dealing with ammo has included placing a 1000% tax on handgun ammo, bans on lead (i.e. most) bullets, and “encoding” each bullet with a unique serial number (making it vastly more expensive).
If the specter of all of the Democrats previous gun control schemes weren’t enough to drive ammo prices through the roof, recently President Obama announced his support for CIFTA, an international gun control treaty. Among other infringements upon the Second Amendment, the treaty could require people who reload ammo at home to get a federal license. (No one knows how much such a license would cost, or even if they would be issued.) The treaty should drive ammo prices up further and keep them there.
So in a time of ammunition scarcity, what can shooters do?
If you can’t find the ammunition you need at your local merchant, you can try ordering ammunition online at Cheaper Than Dirt, The Sportsman’s Guide, or Ammoman.com. They may be sold out of what you need, but keep checking.
If you can wait, try attending the next gun show near you. There are usually ammunition vendors at gun shows, giving you at least a chance to find what you need. Unlike what you’ve probably seen on the network news, gun shows are not lawless orgies of illegal gun sales with Satan himself laughing in the background, but you can pick up some good deals at one. IowaCarry.org maintains a list of Iowa gun shows here.
Good luck and good shooting!