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Fairbanks sees ammunition shortage
Newsminer ^ | May 26, 2013 | Sam Friedman

Posted on 05/26/2013 10:13:06 PM PDT by Jet Jaguar

FAIRBANKS — It’s common knowledge among frequent customers that Tuesdays are ammo days at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Fairbanks.

Ammunition shipments usually arrive on Tuesdays at the Johansen Expressway store. Popular calibers, such as .22 and .308, generally sell out in minutes despite a store-imposed limit of three small boxes or one large box per customer, hunting department manager Jason Kohfeld said. What used to be a three-week supply of ammunition sells in less than a week.

The surge in demand has been seen across Fairbanks and across the country. It’s part of a nationwide trend that started in December after the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting and calls from President Barack Obama for new gun control laws, including restrictions on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Demand has continued even after a bill to require gun show and Internet gun customers to get background checks, one of the meekest of the president’s proposed gun control laws, failed to go anywhere in Congress last month.

In Fairbanks, the shortage has led to often-empty shelves at retail stores and an inflated secondary market for ammo at gun shows and online. It’s also affected law enforcement’s ability to buy new ammunition but hasn’t led to cutbacks in firearms training as it has in some Lower 48 jurisdictions.

The view from the gun counter

Kohfeld has worked through several demand booms at the Sportman’s Warehouse. There was a surge before the November 2012 elections, another surge after the election and the current run on ammunition that’s continued since December.

Supplies also ran short when Obama was first elected in 2008, but that year there were additional factors, including more demand from the military — then fighting two wars — and shortages in the world lead market, he said. This year, ammo manufacturers are producing ammo as fast as they ever have, and the shortages are caused by the insatiable demand, he said.

“We’re doing everything we can to try to get customers what they want,” he said. “All the warehousers, the distributors nationwide, they’re allocaters now, they’re not warehousers. They get a shipment and it gets split up and goes directly back out the door.”

Behind the demand

Debates in Washington might have contributed to the most recent ammunition-buying frenzy, but local sellers and customers say other factors are more influential.

Joe Nava, a longtime Fairbanks firearms instructor, has been talking about the ammunition shortage for months on his KFAR-660 AM radio show, “Shooter’s Corner.” Part of the shortage is caused by people buying more ammo when they see stores running low.

“What I’ve been doing on my radio show for more than two years now is telling people to buy ammunition and stock it up. It’s going to be scarce, and it’s going to be expensive. Those people who did that, like me, have not been affected by the shortage because I’ve got enough to ride through this shortage and teach all my students until ammunition becomes available again,” he said.

Nava cites news of large ammo purchase from government agencies as another part of the problem. The largest are a five-year Department of Homeland Security contract reached last year for 450 million rounds and reports this year that Homeland Security is pursuing as many as 1.6 billion additional rounds. These numbers have led some gun advocates to accuse the department of back-door gun control by taking ammunition off the market. The National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun-advocacy organization, has not taken an issue with the purchases. It issued a press release in August 2012 after discussions about the 450-million round contract took off on the Internet as well as in Congress.

“The mildest writers have questioned why seemingly mundane agencies would need ammunition at all; more incendiary authors suggest that these government agencies are preparing for a war with the American people,” the NRA stated in the press release.

The NRA concluded the scale of the ammo purchase wasn’t unusual for the number of law enforcement officers and urged members to focus on more direct threats to gun rights. “As most gun owners will agree, skepticism of government is healthy. But today, there are more than enough actual threats to the Second Amendment to keep gun owners busy.”

Nava said he doesn’t think there’s evidence the government is actively trying to manipulate the ammo market, but said the large purchases are taking ammunition away from private citizens. “When they put in large orders like that, it just adds to the problem,” he said “I don’t know why Homeland Security needs so much ammunition.” Gary Junk, a gunsmith and owner of Arctic Gun Works off Airport Way, does not sell much ammo. He occasionally buys it from customers moving out of state. Like any other small business, he finds it difficult to keep up with major retailers who have staff to order ammunition the moment manufacturers make it available.

In addition to gun control debates in Congress, he cites fears of another economic downturn as a reason people stock up on ammo — for survival and defense.

“Everybody that has paid any attention to our news recently has heard the fears of our economy collapsing or going into a depression-type state. And how many people can remember stories from their parents and their grandparents of ‘Back in the Depression, we fed ourselves with a .22 rifle?,’” he said. “They’re putting two and two together and saying not only can it help me feed myself, it’s not a half bad personal house protection gun, let’s go by some ammo. And when they walk in with that hoarding mentality, they’re not buying one or two packets, they’re buying as much as the store will allow.”

Setting the price

Junk also attributes part of the demand spike to scalpers, people who take advantage of the scarcity by purchasing ammo when it does become available and reselling it.

A quick look on the Fairbanks firearms section of popular Internet marketplace Alaska List last week returned mostly ads for firearms, although there were a handful of ads for .22, .223, 7-millimeter and 9-millimeter cartridges. Prices were higher than retail, but most posters did not match the profile of an obvious scalper. They advertised only a handful of boxes of leftover ammo.

Brent Amundsen, a youth minister in Fairbanks, was about halfway through selling 500 rounds of .22 long rifle ammunition. He was asking twice the retail price, $16 for a box of 50 RWS-brand ammo and $20 for a box of Remington. Amundsen said he was having trouble finding .22 ammo, which he uses for plinking and ptarmigan hunting, so he asked his wife to buy some while she was on a trip to Green Bay, Wisc. Supplies were low there, as well, so she had to visit several stores, but she ended up bringing back more than he needed, he said.

The largest set of ammo on the Alaska List last week was a set of 6,000 rounds of CCI-brand .22 cartridges selling for $1,000. The man who posted the ad wrote in the listing he was selling the ammo because he had “too many rounds to count.”

An end in sight?

Is the ammunition shortage likely to continue? In the retail world, Kohfeld said, they’re hearing from manufacturers that it will take at least a year to catch up with current demand. At Arctic Gun Works, Junk also gives it a year, but predicted the ammo shortage is at its height.

“If everything goes the same as the last election, where after 10, 12 months everything kind of mellows out, which I expect to happen here, you will see cheap ammunition on the shelves for sale because the people who bought it who thought were going to quadruple their money selling it on Alaska List are going to be sitting there with a whole bunch of .22 ammo,” Junk said, “and they’re either going to have three-lifetime supplies to shoot up themselves or they’re going to have to sell it for at or less than price they bought it at.”

Nava also expects availability to improve. But he laughed out loud when asked if he thinks ammunition prices will ever drop in the Fairbanks area. “I don’t live in that kind of dream world,” he said.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Extended News; US: Alaska
KEYWORDS: banglist; guncontrol; secondamendment

1 posted on 05/26/2013 10:13:06 PM PDT by Jet Jaguar
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To: Jet Jaguar

with the run on ammo, will more ammo factories be popping up?

2 posted on 05/26/2013 10:21:10 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: HiTech RedNeck
Who isn't seeing an ammo shortage. Our wallmart sells out of 9mm and .223 in less the an hour. Everything else in less then a day.
3 posted on 05/26/2013 10:33:34 PM PDT by DYngbld (I have read the back of the Book and we WIN!!!!)
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To: Jet Jaguar

i really doubt anyone will be left with more than they need.

4 posted on 05/26/2013 10:43:15 PM PDT by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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To: Jet Jaguar

There is no such thing as having too much ammunition. At a minimum, I would like to have 10,000 rounds each of .22 and 5.56. And I’d like to have at least 5,000 rounds of .40 and .45 ACP. For my shotgun, I’d like to have 2,000 slugs and 3,000 double ought. This is just a bare minimum. Ten times that amount would be a good start.

5 posted on 05/27/2013 12:03:07 AM PDT by AlaskaErik (I served and protected my country for 31 years. Progressives spent that time trying to destroy it.)
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There is no such thing as having too much ammunition. At a minimum, I would like to have 10,000 rounds each of .22 and 5.56. And I’d like to have at least 5,000 rounds of .40 and .45 ACP. For my shotgun, I’d like to have 2,000 slugs and 3,000 double ought. This is just a bare minimum. Ten times that amount would be a good start.

Considering any doomsday scenario that could possibly directly require my armed response might at worst have me expend a few hundred rounds, my 4000 round stock is 10X. I'm not buying any ammo at these prices. This "shortage" is the same social disease as everyone cleaning off the shelves of bread and milk when 2" of snow is predicted.

6 posted on 05/27/2013 2:59:11 AM PDT by USCG SimTech (Honored to serve since '71)
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To: AlaskaErik

There is no such thing as having too much ammunition.

Except when you are on fire.

7 posted on 05/27/2013 3:07:25 AM PDT by rdcbn
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To: Jet Jaguar

Did the ice break at Tanana yet?

8 posted on 05/27/2013 3:09:27 AM PDT by Tainan (Cogito, ergo conservatus sum -- "The Taliban is inside the building")
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To: Jet Jaguar

The “new normal”? Tom Gresham, on “Gun Talk” thread last night, said he expects prices to drop slightly and availability to become somewhat better, but that this is “the new normal”, with ~1,000,000 new gun owners coming into the market each year, plus hoarding by current owners. Glad I stocked-up WELL over the past 10yrs, for my 7 calibers.

9 posted on 05/27/2013 5:50:57 AM PDT by carriage_hill (Guns kill people, pencils misspell words, cars drive drunk & spoons make you fat.)
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To: Tainan

It did about six days ago. Latest in history.

10 posted on 05/27/2013 6:05:07 AM PDT by Jet Jaguar
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To: Jet Jaguar
An end in sight?

Absolutely not. Any massacre from now on will result in libs once again pushing very hard for new gun and ammo control laws, and that, in turn, will result in another round of frenzied buying/hoarding by gun owners and higher prices. Which libs LOVE. They live for the next massacre.

11 posted on 05/27/2013 3:39:37 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: DYngbld
Outfitter outside Cleveland has ammunition, but purchases have a daily limit for some calibers. I bought .40 caliber on Friday. Could have gone back each day if I'd been in town.

From your account, it is apparent that the "ammo shortage" is driven by panic buying and hoarding more than by actual shortages in supply.

12 posted on 05/27/2013 6:45:37 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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