A spike in gun and ammunition sales has caused a nationwide shortage that has delayed police training exercises and is putting a substantial amount of weaponry in civilian hands.
Police in Atlanta, Georgia have been forced to delay training exercises due to a shortage of ammunition. The police department has put orders for more bullets on back-order, while officers are being deprived of the training that makes them capable of handling weapons.
“When you can’t get ammunition, it is very concerning,” Sandy Springs Police Chief Terry Sult tells WSBTV. “It affects our ability to be prepared. It affects the potential safety of the officers, because they’re not as proficient as they should be.”
The Sandy Springs Police Department is facing a shortage of tens of thousands of bullets and is scrambling to restock. The neighboring counties are facing an equally dire situation, with both practice ammunition and duty ammunition in short supply. Douglas County Chief Deputy Stan Copeland predicts it could be 6-8 months before the back-orders come in.
“We’re going to get very concerned at the six-month level if that’s all we have in stock, because then we have to start planning and rationing,” Sult says.
Local ammunition suppliers are attributing the shortage to the spike in gun and ammunition purchases by civilians after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting sparked debate on tighter gun control regulations.
FBI background checks for weapons hit a record 2.8 million in December, with most of those occurring after the Dec. 14 massacre. Last month also saw a drastic increase in gun sales, with every US state seeing a rise from the previous month. Ammunition sales were equally steep, with Brownells, the largest supplier of firearm accessories in the world, reporting that it has blown through several years’ worth of ammunition in just a matter of hours. The company apologized for its inability to meet consumer demands.
“There’s been a whole lot of hysteria raised by the [National Rifle Association] about the need to stockpile guns because Obama’s going to take your guns away,” Caroline Brewer, a spokeswoman for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, tells ABC News. “It may mean more gun owners are buying more guns.”
Factories are now struggling to produce enough ammunition to keep up with demand, prompting police departments to share with neighboring counties in order to keep running. The federal government may have experienced a similar shortage if it didn’t prepare ahead of time: the Department of Homeland Security recently ordered 200,000 rounds of bullets at the cost of $45,000 dollars. The ammo will be delivered to a training site in South California.
The agency said there was already a shortage of bullets back in August, which made the threat of “substantial safety issues for the government” a very real one, should law enforcement officials not be adequately armed. The spikes in gun control, which came in waves after Obama’s reelection and the Sandy Hook massacre, drastically worsened the shortage.
Rather than purchasing ammo from their usual factory suppliers, police are now being forced to search local shops for the supplies they so desperately need.
“We’re having law enforcement agencies that are coming in and buying ammunition off the shelf, because, you know, they need it,” says Jay Wallace, owner of the Georgia-based Smyrna Police Distributors.