Ammo Shortage Worries Cops, as Pandemic Gun Sales Surge

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Ammujnition for sales, Missouri 2010. Photo by Michele Ward/KOMU News via flickr

A nationwide shortage of ammunition, driven by rising gun sales, is causing some police agencies to dig into shooting range supplies, reports the Baltimore Sun.

The Baltimore County’s tactical police unit faced a “critically low” supply of .223-caliber rifle cartridges and other ammunition in July, despite placing extra orders in 2020, police said.

“There’s a nationwide shortage” of ammunition, said Col. Steven Hlavach, chief of the department’s professional standards bureau.

“A lot of that has to do with the pandemic and some of the other things going on.”

The upsurge in gun sales since the pandemic has meant that demand for ammunition is exceeding supply, according to Warren Eller, associate professor in the Department of Public Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

“COVID has pretty dramatically affected supply chains,” said Eller, asserting that a “ton of fear” is driving the disruption.

Eller compared it to the rush for toilet paper and other necessities at the pandemic’s outset.

Another factor, Eller claimed, was fear caused by anti-police protests since the George Floyd death.

“We’re talking about defunding police officers during a time of civil unrest,” Eller said.

“People are worried about personal protection.”

As gun safety advocates call for regulating ammunition sales to bolster laws controlling gun transactions, including blocking online purchases, the shortages are likely to get worse, Eller said.

The Baltimore County department is not rationing ammo, Hlavach insisted, saying police will still be able to meet state-required training requirements.

“Every officer that goes out on the street is fully equipped with the amount of ammo required for them to do their job,” he added.

But some officers said the shortage could have a long-term impact on police  training academies.

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