Worried gun owners have generated a nationwide shortage of ammunition.
“We’ve been running lower and lower and lower on handgun ammo,” said John Geery, manager of Jayhawk Pawn & Jewelry, 1804 W. Sixth St. “The availability from these wholesalers is just drying up. Many of them you call up and they don’t have anything to sell.”
Retailers in Kansas and surrounding states are seeing shortages on bullets for 9 mm handguns, .223-caliber assault weapons and AK-47 rifles, Geery said. Rounds that once sold for 15 cents a bullet, now sell for 50 cents — that is, if you can find them at all.
“We see more people coming in here asking us for the same stuff, looking for the same thing,” Geery said. “They’re all in the same Easter egg hunt.”
The shortage includes rounds for popular semiautomatic rifles and pistols that were covered by an assault weapons ban, signed in 1994 by President Bill Clinton, which generally blocked some military-style guns with magazines that hold multiple cartridges.
In February, Attorney General Eric Holder suggested that the Obama administration favors reinstituting the Clinton-era gun ban, which President George W. Bush had allowed to expire.
The potential of a new ban is driving worried gun owners to stockpile bullets at such a rate that manufacturers can’t meet demand, and Geery said the frenzy surrounding the shortage makes people want to buy more and at any price.
“A lot of prelude to that, a lot of hysteria when these kinds of things happen,” Geery said.
Geery said a few other reasons are likely behind the ammo shortage.
He said metal, powder and other manufacturing costs are making it difficult for manufacturers to produce ammunition. Plus, he said, some of the shortage may be due to the amount of bullets being used in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Other ammunition retailers in the Lawrence area had no comment or were unavailable Tuesday.
As for Jayhawk Pawn, Geery said the shortage is bad for customers but good for business. He said the shortage is bringing more people into the store as they scour retailers for ammo.
While the shortage has been growing since October 2008, Geery expects the availability of ammunition to eventually turn around.
“Just like everything else … it’ll boomerang,” he said.