Gun ranges are being forced to implement rationing policies in order to keep enough ammunition to meet some customer demand due to a prolonged ammunition shortage the likes of which many industry employees say they have never seen.
Blue Ridge Arsenal Inc. in Chantilly, Va. is one such range. For the last few months, they have limited customers to one ammunition box per shooting lane, no matter the number of people shooting on one lane. Up to four people are permitted to shoot per lane.
“I never thought I would see the day in America when stores could not keep .22 ammo on the shelves,” an employee of Blue Ridge Arsenal, who wished not to be named, told The Daily Caller. “I have never seen anything like this.”
Efforts to enact more restrictive gun-control legislation and reports of the government purchasing mass quantities of ammunition have compounded to spark a mass increase in demand for guns and ammunition.
The shortage and ensuing policy at Blue Ridge Arsenal has resulted in a decline in customers, particularly during the week.
“During the daytime Monday through Thursday, I’ll be lucky to see a handful of people shooting,” the employee detailed. “The weekends pick up significantly, but there are a lot of law enforcement officers shooting.”
When this reporter visited the range, there was only one other customer target shooting besides, and he was on his way out because he had reached his one ammunition box limit.
When asked if the range would allow customers to purchase additional shooting lanes as a possible method to circumvent the policy, the employee admitted it could be done, but doubling the cost of a targeting shooting is not an option people are opting for.
“That’s a tank of gas. That’s a father choosing to take his kids out to lunch on a Saturday afternoon.”
The employee specifically cited the Department of Homeland Security’s massive purchase of ammunition as a major contributing factor to the ammunition shortage. He believes it has increased “panic” and has spurred more and more to stockpile, particularly because DHS has not answered questions with regards to the purpose of the large orders. (RELATED: Ammo maker: Ammo shortage fueled by ‘rumors and conjecture’)
The Government Accountability Office is now investigating the large purchases made by the government. In effort to restrict government agencies purchasing power, Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe and Republican Rep. Frank Lucas have each introduced the Ammunition Management for More Obtainability (AMMO) Act of 2013. The bill would specifically limit “non-defense, armed federal agencies to pre-Obama levels of ammunition.”
Many other gun ranges across Virginia are implementing similar rationing policies, including Bob’s Indoor Range, Sharpshooters Small Arms Range and Superior Pawn & Gun. The Range, in Stafford, Va., warns directly on their homepage that they are “extremely low on ammo” and will “only sell one box of a caliber per lane.”
An employee with Clark’s Gun Shop, Inc. — where most ammunition is limited to one box per customer, depending on the caliber — is recommending customers arrive early in the day to purchase ammunition because it sells out that evening.
Sporting goods stores have also had to ration. Dick’s Sporting Goods and Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, have had to restrict customers to three boxes per day. Cabela’s imposes a ten box-restriction.
Handgun ammunition, such as 9mm, and rifles of particular calibers, such as .22-caliber, are the hardest to find.
The surge in gun and ammunition sales show no sign of loosening up. In testimony before a Senate appropriations subcommittee on Thursday, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III revealed that the first six full weeks of 2013 ranked among the top 10 busiest in National Instant Criminal Background Check System history. According to FBI data, there have been 72,005,482 background checks for gun purchases since President Barack Obama took office in 2008. And with more than 2 million background checks every month since January, the U.S. is on track to reach a record 28 million-plus by the end of the year.