Are we about to see another ammo shortage?
The shortages between 2008 and 2013 left many gun owners struggling to find the most popular calibers, and some are worried the coronavirus outbreak will spur a return to scarcity.
Social media is full of reports of empty shelves, and some local reporting in Waco, Texas, confirms these accounts. The Academy and Cabela’s sporting goods stores have been more-or-less cleaned out of handgun ammunition and most 5.56/.223. Academy has already limited customers to three ammunition items per store visit.
The problem appears to be even worse in states heavily affected by the virus, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. Reporters spoke with gun shop owners and customers in the greater-LA area, who all noted the uptick in gun and ammo sales.
“Politicians and anti-gun people have been telling us for the longest time that we don’t need guns,” a customer named John Gore told the LA Times. “But right now, a lot of people are truly scared, and they can make that decision themselves.”
Many customers expressed versions of the adage, “it’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”
“It’s not like an active panic, more a preoccupation with making sure everyone is adequately prepared, myself and family and friends,” first-time gun purchaser Anna Carreras told the LA Times. “Better to be prepared and not need it than need it and not have it.”
“You got to be protected for all sorts of stuff,” gun shop employee David Stone reiterated. “Seems like the world has gone mad.”
Their fear isn’t unwarranted. The city of Champaign, Illinois, passed a resolution that allows city officials to ban firearms if it deems the action necessary. Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen has said she has no plans to use her newfound power, but mayors of major U.S. cities have tried in the past to ban guns in the wake of disasters.
There’s also evidence to suggest that the run on ammo has been percolating for longer than the last few days. Ammo.com reported in a press release on March 17 that it’s seen a dramatic rise in sales since the pandemic hit American shores.
When compared to the 11 days before February 23 (February 12 to 22), in the 11 days after (February 23 to March 4), Ammo.com’s number of transactions increased 68% overall. Since March 4, the company has seen a 276% increase in sales.
When comparing 22 days worth of sales from February 23, 2020, through March 15, with sales from February 1, 2020, through February 22, their analysis found:
- 309% increase in revenue
- 78% increase in conversion rate
- 222% increase in transactions
- 77% increase in site traffic
- 27% increase in average order
“We know certain things impact ammo sales, mostly political events or economic instability when people feel their rights may end up infringed, but this is our first experience with a virus leading to such a boost in sales,” Alex Horsman, the marketing manager at Ammo.com, said of the surge. “A lot of our customers like to be prepared. And for many of them, it’s not just facemasks and TheraFlu. It’s knowing that no matter what happens, they can keep themselves and their families safe.”
The largest sales volume has come from Texas, Florida, and Georgia, but Vermont, Delaware, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Louisiana have seen the highest uptick in sales.
Ammo.com provided a list of calibers that have been especially popular:
- 40 Cal (S&W) ammo: 645%
- 223 ammo: 563%
- 7.62×39 ammo: 386%
- 12 gauge shotgun shells: 368%
- 9mm ammo: 308%
- 5.56×45 ammo: 296%
- 45 Auto (ACP) ammo: 272%
- 22 Long Rifle (LR) ammo: 263%
- 380 ACP (Auto) ammo: 212%
- 308 Winchester ammo: 106%
The anti-gun lobby also chimed in with their take on the shortage. They worry that the increased gun and ammo sales will result in more accidental deaths of children.
The COVID-19 #NationalEmergency means millions of children and teens will be home over the next several weeks, some in homes with loaded, unsecured guns.— Everytown (@Everytown) March 16, 2020
Parents: #BeSMART for Kids: Store guns locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition. #DemDebate
“The unintended consequence of these panic-induced purchases in response to the Covid-19 pandemic could be a tragic increase of preventable gun deaths for the loved ones these individuals are trying to protect,” said Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, in a statement Monday.
Only time will tell whether gun manufacturers are capable of staying on top of this most recent run on ammo, but for now gun owners not already stocked up might consider purchasing a few boxes from their local GunsAmerica dealer. Click HERE to buy ammo on GunsAmerica.
Note: This post has been updated with the most recent data from Ammo.com.