By Mike Keleher
Well here we are again. “Suddenly” ammunition has disappeared off the shelf, and we are all wondering just how long this shortage will last. Jumping ahead, my best guess, is to factor in the election plus six months…maybe longer before pre-Covid on the shelf availability and pre-Covid prices return and probably even longer if Biden gets elected. His election alone would be enough to trigger a panic buy of guns and ammo between November and January.
Major gun manufacturers currently can’t fill orders fast enough and many self-defense-oriented pistol makers are looking at 2021 delivery dates.
As it turns out, the Covid virus has been the best motive for selling firearms and ammunition since Obama was president and when Hillary was running for president. Obama was seen as the best firearms salesman in American history. Following President Trump’s election in 2016, demand for sporting and self defense arms and ammunition flattened out and ammunition was plentiful and reasonably priced.
Then the Panic-demic of all Pandemics hit in March of 2020 direct from “Chy-na.” In 2020 Covid said “Gun sales? Hold my beer Obama.”
Ordinary people cast their monetary votes on what they deemed essential to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness-toilet paper, guns and ammunition. Politicians did not make the list. People were inundated with scary and contradictory information and believed they needed to take care of #1…or in the case of toilet paper taking care of #2! Seriously was it really scaring the feces out of people?
Bundle this with the Democratic presidential hopeful’s late winter taking very liberal stances to include Beto O’Rourke’s announcement in 2019 that yes, we are in fact coming for your guns-as most of us long suspected-and guns and ammo started flying off the shelf. Joe Biden’s recent ramblings included pretty blatant gun confiscation and prohibition quotes like “you should not be able to purchase certain firearms” and “banning guns is an idea whose time has come”- has not helped matters.
Riots and looting during the summer of 2020 have fueled the flames. Ordinary people believe like never before, we need to be able to protect ourselves-obviously elected officials are allowing criminals to run rampant in the street, and even if arrested they won’t be prosecuted. You may have seen something of it mentioned on television or in the news….
Photo credit: tagotee.com
With gun sales rocketing this summer, another critical statistic emerged- the NSSF said 40% of these guns being sold were being purchased by first time buyers. This has been quite a shot in the arm to firearms industry in addition to all the traditional purchasers.
Some other contributing factors to the current shortage, can be traced way back to 2013. The last lead smelting plant in America closed down under the Obama administration in an agreement with EPA for failure to meet air quality standards. China has then become the world’s largest producer of lead. Now this is not to say there is no more American lead, secondary producers in the U.S. recycle lead-mostly from car batteries, but it is a bottle neck in the process and the cost of lead bullets went up accordingly. Copper and brass are also not as widely available. Manufacturers formerly could get materials globally, but tariffs have raised the prices of importing those materials.
The biggest factor by far in this shortage, is entirely consumer made through panic and bulk buying. People who would have ordinarily purchased one or two boxes at a time have grabbed up several hundred at a time.
A box of 100 primers turned into 1,000 and 2,000 purchases. Ammo makers are running at maximum capacity, but Covid (Remember Covid? It will probably be gone the day after election day in November) the virus and associated health financial problems are felt in the plants too and even the trucking industry who deliver the product to stores. Prices are rising from all of these of factors-not just from greedy profiteers raising the cost to what the market will bear. Hard to find ammo like 9mm and 5.56 mm are seeing huge price increases.
Have we seen it all before? Well sure we have. The election of Barak Obama in 2008 kicked off a two-year panic with people grabbing up all the ammo they could carry or store. Remember when you couldn’t find a box of .22 LR in three states? Demand remains very high even into 2020. It was the go-to round for those who were bulk buying. Not a great round for self defense or zombie shooting, but it was cheap and easy to buy in large quantities. Loaded ammunition was scooped up in 2008, followed by reloading components like primers and bullets. It took a couple of years to get back to traditional stock on the shelf.
Late in 2012, another panic buying phase kicked in following the aftermath of the Sandy Hook spree shootings and the subsequent political calls for gun control and bans on high capacity firearms. This phase lasted about a year and then tapered off after none of the proposed federal bans were enacted.
The potential to see Hillary Clinton elected to the White House in 2016 set off another big buying year for guns and ammo. It should not have come as a surprise then people were worried a new president would enact bans, confiscations etc- the same fear a potential Joe Biden election in 2020 offers, with Biden stuck being more openly anti-gun because of the current ultra-liberal agendas and he can’t be seen doing anything but endorsing the party, even if it has run away from him. The Democrats in D.C. won’t even make negative remarks about riots, looting and attacks on police and civilians for fear of losing their voting bloc.
Should we have seen this panic and ammo shortage coming? Well, no one else saw the Covid coming (except the Chinese apparently) and then no one else saw the Antifa/BLM rioters and looters coming either. We should have been prepared however after living through three other panic driven shortages in the last 12 years-which strangely coincided with election years… hmmm. I guess we could have seen that coming, and we had plenty of time to lay in a stock pile of handy ammunition during the slack years. We will get back to that point in 2021 or even 2022, but don’t look for it to be real easy during the rest of 2020.
What else should we be anticipating facing scary state and federal elections this year and possibly even more looting and assaults by an out of control and entitled criminal population? High capacity magazines will be in the political bullseye and an easier political sell perhaps than outright bans on particular firearms. You might start picking up an extra 30 Rd PMAG on every trip to the gun store, or throwing an extra in your online shopping cart with every order-they are only $12-$15 now, and you may be glad later to be sitting on a few good mags-we have lived through it before too.
Photo credit: psa.com