It’s been known for a while that the United States has been suffering an ammunition shortage and insane ammo prices if you can find any. This isn’t something that’s gotten a lot of play in the national media, but has frequently been covered by local newspapers and TV stations, often interviewing police departments and the operators of gun stores and shooting ranges.
One such story appeared this week in the Gazette newspaper in Iowa, which reported that, ahead of the start of fall hunting seasons, “supplies are so tight that some retailers are rationing how much customers can buy and the state is warning hunters to plan ahead now or risk being surprised later.”
The story, like most others of its kind, found that the shortage has been the result of pandemic-era supply chain constraints, and skyrocketing demand for guns. The newspaper cited FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, showing a 40 percent increase in background checks between 2019 and 2020. In addition, more people than usual hunted in 2020, since so many others activities were not allowed last year.
“I can’t buy a tenth — or even less than that in some cases — of what I actually want,” said Ernie Traugh, owner of Cedar Valley Outfitters in Marion, told the newspaper, in what the Gazette described as representative of what other similar owners have been saying. “And that’s not even the slightest exaggeration. There are items that I literally would buy 1,000 times more than what I’m able to get my hands on right now.”
“There’s an ammunition shortage — there was one last year, there’s one now, and it’ll likely keep going on for a while. And it’s not just ammunition — it’s every industry,” Traugh added, in the article. “There’s nothing made out of metal that doesn’t cost more and isn’t in a shortage right now. Ours was just one of the first industries affected.”
He added that he has had to limit how much ammunition customers are allowed to purchase- a first in the 20 years he has been in business.
Others in that business agreed.
“Really, every bit of ammunition is hard to get ahold of,” Bob DuCharme, owner of Tactical Creations in Vinton, told the Gazette. “The shotgun ammo is especially hard to get ahold of right now, and hunting ammunition is hard to get ahold of.”
Meanwhile, it’s been alleged that the ammo shortage will be made worse by the recent move by the State Department to place sanctions on Russian-made ammunition. Russia was the leading exporter of foreign-made ammo to the U.S. last year, and it’s possible that the sanctions, which are in place for at least one year, will make ammo in the U.S. more difficult to find.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.