Lately, Ronald Fuller has had a tough time meeting some of his customers’ needs.
The manager of Southern Outdoor Sports can’t keep his shelves stocked with ammunition, guns or accessories.
“I’ve been selling firearms since 1977 and we’ve never seen anything like this,” Fuller said. “I went to our buying group show in Fort Worth (Texas) three weeks ago, and the dealers are from all 50 states, and it was the same story with all firearms and ammunition dealers. There is a shortage.”
The situation is the same at West Main Guns.
“Went from having a couple hundred boxes to maybe four boxes of ammunition,” said Carla Floyd, the store’s bookkeeper. “Our normal stuff is completely sold out. It seems to be every customer that comes in the store says they’re having trouble finding ammo. It’s definitely a concern.”
Fuller said the demand is overwhelming the supply right now, which he attributes to “frenzy buying” in the face of potential legislation affecting gun rights.
“It’s the fear of what the executive branch of government will do regulating firearms and ammunition,” Fuller said. “It started in October and November, and it’s caught up to the level of the manufacturer. The manufacturer is depleted, the wholesaler is depleted and the dealer is depleted.”
As public attention focuses on gun control as a hot-button issue, the demand only increases.
“It started with the reelection, and then the school shooting at Sandy Brook secondly, and then of course the talk in the media about the AR-15s and the higher capacity magazines on your handguns,” Floyd said. “I believe anytime you have something going on constantly in the news media, people panic a little bit. I think it will die down hopefully. I do believe there will be some gun law changes. It’s definitely put a scare into people.”
Fuller said the primary ammunition he’s been selling is for the .22 long rifle and the .223 Remington.
Now, he can’t keep supplies stocked and has to keep a waiting list with customers’ phone numbers.
As supplies come into the store, he contacts each customer with what he or she has requested.
“Very little of our product right now is actually getting to the shelf in guns and ammunition because we call from this list in the order somebody’s asked for it,” Fuller said.
While it would seem such a high demand would be good for gun store owners, Floyd said that hasn’t proven to be the case for all.
“We’ve lost a lot of sales to the frenzy,” Floyd said. “We’re losing two to five sales per day in the last month. People are coming in wanting certain types, especially pocket guns, what I call personal carry weapons. We’re even low on our long guns. We might have seven or eight long guns. This a record (low) in the long guns as well.”
As for when the panic will die down, nobody’s sure.
“It’s anticipated it may take six to nine months to get the distribution levels back to what they were in October,” Fuller said. “This is expected to go on probably all year, this shortage of firearms and ammunition.”
Floyd is a bit more optimistic.
“It probably will take it a few more months, but I do feel it will calm down and people will get out of the panic mode,” she said. “Any time you start talking gun control, people will panic.”