Michael Pearce

Michael Pearce: Ammo hoarding becomes a problem

Most things look good for a 9-year-old girl’s first deer hunt in September.

Her father will take her to our farm. They’ll find nice food plots, blinds and a pretty good chance for the girl who loves all things outdoors to shoot a doe.

They’re just missing one major thing — ammunition.

Her dad has gone weeks without finding cartridges for the .22 the girl will use to hone her rifle skills. Boxes of ammo for the .223 she’ll use for the hunt seem non-existent. It’s a familiar frustration for thousands of us shooters looking for those and several other popular cartridges.

So it’s been since the tragic December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Within hours of the killing spree, some people began calling for more government control on ammo and firearms. At the same time, shooters fearing pending limitations on guns and ammo began hoarding both. About seven months later, shelves at many firearms departments are usually as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard for most popular cartridges.

Store and department managers I’ve talked with say weekly shipments usually get bought up within a few hours of hitting the shelves. Lines of buyers are often waiting when the doors are opened. Even with store-imposed limits, some hoarders, often taking along family members and friends so they can buy more, are hitting enough stores to amass thousands of rounds.

Come on folks, it’s time to share with those who can’t be there when the shelves are stocked.

Look in our gun safe and it’s obvious we support the Second Amendment. Though I have absolutely no need for a semi-automatic rifle with a 30-round magazine, I’m sure they’re fun to shoot.

And I can’t cast any stones about buying lots of ammo. I sometimes purchase waterfowl ammo by 250-round cases for better prices.

I’m not surprised by current gun-control fears. Back in 1968, our small town’s Western Auto sold out of about all kinds of ammo when Robert Kennedy was assassinated. Runs on guns and ammo happened when President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama won a combined four elections, too, because of their past support of gun control.

Though it’s gradually easing a little, this ammo rush seems to be lasting longer than others. The leanings of current political leadership are probably adding to the craze. So are a wide variety of conspiracy rumors, including that the government’s trying to buy all the ammo until tighter regulations can be passed or the U.S. military has placed monstrous ammo orders that must be filled before consumer’s needs.

Such rumors are all false, according to Mike Bazinet of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. He says most manufacturers are cranking out ammo 24/7. Adding to the demand, Bazinet said, are the millions who rushed to buy new firearms after Sandy Hook, fearing new regulations. A lot of those sales were new calibers to the buyers, which has led to even more of a rush.

I guess it’s no business of mine how many boxes of ammo or firearms somebody buys as long as they meet all laws. But I do wonder if the hoarders realize exactly what they’re doing.

One store manager said inability to get ammo has impacted gun sales, as people don’t want make a major purchase if they can’t get boxes of shells for their new handgun or rifle.

Anybody else see the irony in that the hoarders who are so afraid of the government denying the public a chance to purchase ammo and firearms are actually doing it themselves?

I know at least one girl who’s hoping the hoarding eases so she can start going to the shooting range with her dad.