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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ammo shortage encorages hoarding, scalping; affects law enforcement

East Texas stores ration ammo as shortage affects law enforcement
By Sarah Thomas sthomas@news-journal.com

A nationwide ammunition shortage prompted Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano to notify deputies in March that they would have to supply their own ammunition for this year’s firearm qualifications — something Cerliano had never done in 13 years in office.

The sheriff was able to pull the plug on that plan this past week, when the department’s bullet order, placed more than 60 days ago, finally came in.

The shipment arrived just in time, since Gregg County deputies must renew their firearm qualifications this month, Cerliano said.

“I have instructed my firearms instructor to place another order so we don’t end up in this jam again,” Cerliano said, adding that, normally, such an order would not be placed for several more months.
“It’s still hard to come by in bulk,” the sheriff said.

Like Gregg County, law enforcement agencies nationwide are feeling the squeeze as ammunition flies off the shelves across the country.

A spokeswoman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol said the agency was waiting on rifle and shotgun ammunition ordered in November.

The national and statewide ammunition shortage continues to push up demand and prices while stripping some store shelves bare as gun owners rush to stockpile ammunition in anticipation of new gun laws.

The fear of new gun legislation stems from a string of mass shootings — Oak Creek, Wis., Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., — that many believe could lead to passage of new, stricter state and federal gun control statutes.

The shortage has pushed prices up from $3 to $11 per box in the past 30 days, said Jack of Pawns owner Kay Martin.

Martin said the price of a 50-round box of 9 mm hollow point bullets went from $24.95 to $34.99.
A 25-round box of .40 caliber bullets increased from $24.95 to $32.95, she said.

“We’re doing everything we can not to pass the increased prices onto our customers, but if it’s going up $10 a box on us, we have to go up $10 a box on the customer,” Bowling said.

She added that ammunition for many caliber handguns is difficult to find.

She said long-gun calibers such as .223, .308 and .3030 are also difficult to find.

“Ammo for the .22 long rifle is impossible to get right now,” she said.

Bowling believes the military and government requests for ammunition also is adding to the shortage.

Scalpers also are buying any and every kind of bullet they can find.

“These people are buying it and then selling it on eBay or right out of their trucks, and they are charging more than double for it,” Martin said. “They’re no better than scalpers.”

Godell said he has a wide range of items on back order, including handguns, semi-automatic rifles, primers and gun powder.

“We have seen shortages, but this is a new animal altogether,” he said.


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