MATT DAYHOFF/JOURNAL STAR
Handgun ammunition such as these .45-caliber bullets has become increasingly scarce as gun owners have recently begun hording it.
Guns, ammunition flying off shelves
Peoria Journal Star
PEORIA — As the owner of Midwestern Firearms Company in East Peoria, John Meek aims each business day to sell as much ammunition as he can to responsible owners of handguns.
Lately there’s been one big hitch in his business model.
He has no ammunition to sell.
“I’ve been out for about two weeks,” Meek said. “I get spare cases in now and then, but people are keeping an eye on what’s coming in, and those don’t last long.”
Those familiar with the firearm industry say it is no coincidence that there has been a run on the nation’s gun stores since the election of Barack Obama last November.
People are buying guns and bullets at a breathless pace and the evidence is both anecdotal - gun stores are mobbed - and quantifiable.
The amount of taxes the federal government took in from the manufacturers of all firearms and ammunition in the fourth quarter of 2008, the period between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, increased 31 percent over the same time period reported in 2007. That’s from the most recent Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax Collection Report released earlier this month by the Department of the Treasury. The average increase from 2007 in the previous three quarters of 2008 was 9.7 percent.
Clearly, something is happening.
“Demand for ammunition, across caliber lines, is outpacing supply. In order to keep up with demand, manufacturers are working at full capacity, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Ted Novin, the director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
“The increase in demand for ammunition is largely attributable to gun owner concerns regarding the current political climate, both on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures throughout the United States. Many of the lawmakers in power have a long history of supporting legislation that violates the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. Gun owners recognize this and are reacting accordingly.”
The shortage does not seem to be affecting area law enforcement agencies. Several departments were contacted - including Peoria police and the Peoria County Sheriff’s Department, and all said ammo supplies were just fine.
“We have no trouble getting our supply of ammunition,” Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy said. “We’re a long-term customer and we’ve never had a problem.”
Meek said he is seeing large numbers of first-time gun owners in his store. Many longtime gun owners, too, have changed their ammunition-buying habits.
“Instead of buying two or three boxes (with 50 rounds in each) they’re buying two, three, four, five times that amount,” Meek said. “It’s the reason for the shortage.”
All of the pessimism from gun owners about President Obama’s agenda on gun control comes less than a year after the biggest legislative victory against gun control laws. In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., ruling that an individual’s right to own and use a firearm for lawful purposes was protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
That’s not good enough to ease the fear of gun owners.
“People are worried about Mr. Obama, plain and simple,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. “He’s a very liberal person whose frame of reference with gun control laws is the city of Chicago that has some of the most restrictive laws on the books. He just makes gun owners nervous.”
Meek said he believes the ammo shortage is temporary and about to be solved.
“I’m hearing that the manufacturers are beginning to catch up and will be able re-supply by June,” Meek said.