PRYOR, OK —
Gun dealers fear there is no end in sight for the ammunition shortage.
“The ammo is just not out there, it's not there to be ordered,” said Gid Graham, owner of Green Country Pawn in Pryor.
Stores nationwide have found ammunition to be in short supply for over a year, some have started limiting purchase quantities per customer and nearly all stores have seen an increase in price.
“Sometimes I can luck into some at a gun show but at three times what I would have paid for it a year ago,” said Graham.
Graham said he hears a number of theories on what caused the shortage from the customers coming in and out of his store.
“I've heard them blame Obama, a government shutdown of a U.S. lead-producing plant and even talk of one extremely wealthy individual buying up all the manufacturing companies,” said Graham. “But I hear the same amount of ammo was produced this year as the year before, and two years ago. It's just not circulating.”
The store owner travels to area gun shows and said the shortage was apparent at the last major show.
“The Wanenmacher Gun Show (in Tulsa) last November, I really felt the shortage. I sent my wife around with about $900 and told her to buy all the .22 and .22 mag ammo she could find. She came back with nearly all her money,” said Graham, adding that just a couple of boxes of bullets were available among the 4,500 vendors.
When asked if he sees an end to the shortage, Graham said, “none of it seems to be loosening up any.”
He said many people are hoarding ammunition.
“There are a lot of people that have made it their mission to buy and hoard every box of ammo they can find,” said Graham.
“It's not just ammo though. The components, brass, powder, etc., are in short supply as well. Rifles, shotguns and pistols just aren't there like they used to be either,” said Graham.
He said customers read about new guns in magazines and come to him wanting to buy and he can't get the guns.
“We're losing our sportsmen because there's just nothing to hunt with,” said Graham, adding that for a lot of local families hunting is a way of putting food on the table.
Across town, Dr. Jason Joice, owner of Doc's Guns, is having the same problems.
“There is no end in sight,” Joice said. “In fact, I think it's getting worse.”
While Joice didn't venture a guess as to the cause of the shortage, he did say if shoppers continue on their current behaviors, the shortage might be here to stay.
“As long as people keep buying it at the rate they presently are, it will remain in short supply. Shortages happen when demand is greater than the supply,” said Joice, who said he goes to great lengths to try and get the ammunition his customers’ request.
Pryor Police Department is feeling the crunch, too.
“We can still get it alright, we just have to order it a different way and it takes quite a bit longer to get here,” said Pryor Police Chief Dennis Nichols. “We've had to alter our schedule a little as far as training at the range goes.”
Nichols said the department gives officers a monthly allotment of ammunition. If quantities get too low, range time is suspended.
Checking his records, Nichols added that rifle bullets have been even harder to get than pistol bullets.
“They told me once it could be six months after I order before I receive the ammo,” he said.
Nichols said ordering for the department has no limitations on the quantity he is allowed to order at one time.
“I've seen consumer prices jump way up. We haven't seen quite that increase in price, though our price has gone up gradually,”said Nichols. “December 2012 is when it started really getting hard to get. But no, I don't really see it getting a lot better any time soon.”