The gun blogosphere and corresponding YouTube ecosystem erupted over the weekend with reports that Joe Biden had banned Russian ammunition and firearms. Headlines exclaimed that Russian gun products will “Go the Way of the Dodo,” and gun pundits (or “gundits”) worried that the banning of Russian ammunition would cause prices of all other ammunition to skyrocket.
Thanks to this coverage, gun owners have already descended on both physical and online gun stores in a rush to secure their cases of Russian ammo before it all runs out for good. Prices have, predictably, risen.
It’s true that Joe Biden’s State Department has levied sanctions against “firearms and ammunition manufactured or located in Russia.” These sanctions will apply for at least the next 12 months, and it’s unclear whether Russia will capitulate to get the sanctions removed.
But hyperbolic headlines lack context, and in many of the articles on this topic, authors explain only in later paragraphs that these sanctions only apply to “new and pending” import applications received after September 7, 2021.
In other words, import applications that are currently approved will be honored after the deadline and companies will have the opportunity to submit new applications until that point.
Mark Oliva of the National Shooting Sports Foundation told us that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives will continue accepting Form 6’s (what companies submit when they want to import firearms or ammunition) until September 7 and all those approved before then will remain in effect.
“That seems to indicate that those imports will continue for two years when those already approved will expire. Concerns about overnight shortages of imported ammunition on September 8 will be more attributable to a consumer rush on ammunition than turning off the spigot,” Oliva said.
It’s unclear when the big Russian importers’ Form 6’s will expire. It could be sooner than two years, or it may not be until 2023. Form 6 also asks applicants to list the number of cartridges they would like to import, and no one knows whether Russian ammo companies have already run through most of their approved ammunition or whether they still have millions of rounds left to import.
Of course, the longer these sanctions remain in place, the worse the situation becomes. If Russian importers sell through their supplies and aren’t approved to import any more, American gun owners will be SOL.
Importers are understandably worried. MKS Supply told Guns & Ammo that they’re “still trying to get a grasp” how these sanctions will affect them and that the “several million rounds” of ammunition they have the approval to import will “go very fast.”
This move by Biden’s State Department may well be an underhanded ploy to keep American gun owners from accessing cheap ammunition. If nothing changes in the next two years, that’s exactly what will happen.
But Russian ammunition will continue to be imported and sold for many months, possibly even years, to come. At least, it will be unless panic buyers run through the supplies between now and September 7.