Police departments are encountering a nagging side effect from the U.S. military’s long overseas missions: It’s getting more difficult to obtain bullets, reports the San Jose Mercury News. The shortage, also being fueled by an unprecedented rise in the price of raw materials, is not so severe that local law enforcement agencies risk running out of bullets. Departments in Santa Clara County have agreed to share ammo if any of them runs low. From California to Florida, police range masters say they are seeing ammunition shipments that once took 45 days to arrive now take four to six months. “It has become a nightmare,” said Sgt. Don Moore, San Jose police range master.
Police have been increasing their ammunition orders, replenishing storerooms to the limit. In January, the San Jose budget office told city council members police were seeking an extra $44,000 to buy ammunition. In the fiscal year 2005-06, police spent $199,000 for bullets. The ammunition shortages stem from a new reality in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, era: The U.S. military is firing its weapons at a breakneck pace. When Alliant Techsystems was contracted to operate the Department of Defense’s Lake City, Mo., Army ammunition plant more than five years ago, it was churning out 350 million rounds annually. From March 2005 to March 2006, about 1.3 billion rounds were made at the plant. “If something comes down, the military ammunition is always going to get first call,” said Eddie Stevenson of Remington, the Madison, N.C.-based gun and ammo manufacturer.