COLUMBIA — The debate over gun control sparked by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., has resulted in a shortage of ammunition in Columbia gun stores.
“Every place you go (in Columbia), you'll have a problem,” said Barry McKenzie, manager of Target Masters at 4101 Range Line St. “We can't really get it."
McKenzie said the shortage started about a month ago when people started “panic buying.”
Larry Wayland, manager at Black Rifle at 800 Vandiver Drive, said stores have been selling out of ammunition since November. He said customers are worried that the re-election of President Barack Obama might lead them to lose their rights to gun ownership.
“It’s an issue where people don’t want something taken from them, so they purchase on the front side of any legislative action,” Wayland said.
He said gun owners who are informed about the shortage tend to buy 10 or 15 boxes of ammunition — instead of the one or two they normally would — because of the scarcity.
Wayland said retailers have sold a six- to nine-month stock of ammunition in 30 days. He said one manufacturer he works with has an 18-month back order.
McKenzie and Wayland said ammunition for all types of guns have been selling out.
Josh Keller, an employee at Family Pawn, 915 Business Loop 70 E., said the store has been able to get ammunition, but manufacturer’s prices have skyrocketed. He said some calibers are five times as expensive as normal.
“The prices are outrageous, but we’ve stuck to our prices,” Keller said.
McKenzie said he is not expecting the shortage to be alleviated in the next month. Wayland agreed but said he sees an end in sight.
“We did it in '94, we did it in '08 – from the response to the election of Obama,” Wayland said. “It probably took four to eight months to get back in balance, and we’ll see the same thing this time.”
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