Amid the nearly two-year-long coronavirus pandemic, the ongoing inflationary pressures and a shortage of certain goods due to supply chain issues undoubtedly have wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy.
And as more people are deciding to buy guns, it seems that there aren’t enough bullets to meet the fast-rising demand. The National Shooting Sports Foundation has estimated that about 8.4 million people purchased a gun for the first time last year. In addition, federal background checks for firearm purchases surged 40 percent last year to a record of nearly forty million, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Dan Marcon, the owner of Marc-On Shooting in the village of Lake Hallie, Wisconsin, recently told Wisconsin Public Radio that he generally sells an average of around six handguns per day. In contrast, before the pandemic, he would sell anywhere from five guns a week to several each day. He now claims that some people are purchasing new guns just because there’s ammunition available for them.
“We have .308 ammo, and we have twelve gauge. So, guys will come in and buy a $300 to $400 shotgun because they can buy slugs,” he said.
Marcon has also seen a surge in interest for his training courses for new gun owners. “There’s a ton of people that we teach to shoot that are people (you) would not think carry guns, whether they’re soccer moms, stay-at-home dads—they’re people that never touched a gun before,” he added.
Ammo Shortage Caused from a Material Shortage?
At least part of the ongoing ammo shortage can be blamed “on the production of electric cars and the U.S. Mint making more coins,” according to Axios. Chris Metz, the CEO of Vista Outdoor Inc., which operates four U.S. ammunition plants, recently told the news site that the company is in direct competition with those specific industries for copper and other materials.
“Raw material costs aside, Metz said ammunition availability should be better in the not-too-distant future because a plant in Lonoke (in Arkansas) that makes Remington ammunition is back in high production mode,” the site writes. “Last year, about four hundred fifty people worked there. Now it employs one thousand fifty. It’s running two and sometimes three shifts a day, six days a week and management is looking to fill another one hundred positions.”
Ammo Shortage: Conspiracy Theories
Moreover, the ammo shortage has prompted rumors and conspiracy theories of gun dealers or manufacturers hoarding ammunition.
“It’s no big conspiracy at all. It’s simply there was eight million new shooters, and the new shooters want guns and ammo,” Pat Kukull, owner of Superior Shooters Supply, told Wisconsin Public Radio.
“That started it. And, then with the riots that went on in the (Twin Cities) area, that self-defense (gun purchases) went way up. It’s just a perfect storm,” she added.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.