Ammo shortage easing

FORT WORTH, Texas — A nearly yearlong nationwide ammunition shortage may be winding down, weapons industry workers say. More ammo is making it to store shelves now, and the price is slowly coming down.

"We're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," said DeWayne Irwin, owner of a Fort Worth store and online retailer. "I've been doing this business since 1988, and I've never seen something like this happen with ammunition. But it's not going to be like this forever."

Demand for guns and ammo began growing last year before the November presidential election. It continued partly because many gun owners were concerned that President Obama and Democrats in Congress would reinstate an assault weapons ban or drastically raise taxes on ammunition, guns and firearms materials, analysts have said.

While there hasn't been such action in Washington, apprehension remains and is likely playing a role in prompting people nationwide to not just buy guns and ammunition, but also to stock up on them as well, some gun enthusiasts say.

"It was the new politics and the fear of the unknown," said Robert Parks, store manager at the Alpine Shooting Range in Fort Worth. "That's what triggered this. It was the not knowing if they were going to be able to purchase handguns or be taxed more."

David Acker noticed months ago that some types of ammunition were increasingly hard to find.

"I couldn't get it when I needed it," he said recently while shopping for ammo. "So I stocked up when I found it."

But while many say ammunition is becoming more available in some places, that's not the case everywhere, said Alan Korwin, author of "Gun Laws of America."

"In places such as New Hampshire, I'm still getting calls about their having shelves still bare there," he said. "Distribution around the country is spotty: In some places it's better; in some it's worse."

Gun enthusiasts turned out in such great numbers — both new gun owners and those who wanted to shore up their personal supplies of ammunition — that 9 billion rounds have been sold this year, up from the typical 7 billion, National Rifle Association statistics show.

PHOTO (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): AMMUNITION