It used to be that if you were a regular target shooter, you could walk into any gun store and simply buy a brick of ammo then leave. Now, because sales have been so popular, especially over the last few months, buyers can only get little boxes.
Business at Imbert and Smithers has been brisk over the last few months. Since December, they've been seeing a surge in purchases that they simply can't keep up with. "The ARs flew off the shelf and then the handguns started flying off the shelf, then all the tactical defensive-type shot guns started flying off the shelf, and then the ammo started," Jeanna Rolsky-Feige told ABC7 News.
If you glance through their shelves of ammunition, you'll see plenty of empty spaces. That's because bullets for several types of guns are in short supply both in the Bay Area and across the country. And, they have been for a few months now. "I've seen the Y2K rush. I've seen the political messes. I've never been out of .22, ever," Rolsky-Feige said.
.22 caliber is the ammunition of choice for target practice because it used to be cheap and plentiful but these days, most stores will only sell two small boxes at a time and at double the normal price. Even online, 22 caliber rounds are often sold out. "Because lot of people are convinced that President Obama is going to unleash a tax or is going to try and take guns away, the demand for guns and ammo has gone way up," said Alex Tabarrok, an economist with the Independent Institute in Oakland.
He says this is only temporary, but he points out an irony about gun control laws and their effects on the market. "If it were the case that these increases in prices would last, then I think that would be much more effective than any gun control program which is currently being considered. After all, when the price of guns goes up, fewer people will buy guns," he said.
It's all about supply and demand. The extra high demand is expected to alleviate itself once ammunition and gun manufacturers can catch up with it. It's just unclear exactly when that will happen.