Prices have more than doubled over past year in some shops, retailers are putting limits on the amount a customer can buy, and some common types of ammunition, such as .22-caliber long rifle shells, are hard to get.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents ammunition makers, retailers, hunters and sport shooters, attributes what it calls “spot shortages” around the country to rising popularity of sport-shooting and hunting, and to people who are “keeping firearms for personal and home defense.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in December reported recently that hunting license sales were up 9% from 2006 to 2011, reversing a 25-year decline. Michael Hampton, Jr., executive director of the National Skeet Shooting Association and the National Sporting Clays Association, says participation in those sports, which includes up to 4 million participants in each sport, is growing 3-5% annually.
But retailers say much of the demand is from gun owners who are stockpiling in case certain weapons are banned, who believe that economic chaos may be coming, or who are driven by rumors of inevitable background checks or rising taxes on ammunition. Gun sellers and owners say a run on ammunition began shortly after President Obama was re-elected, and has intensified in the gun-violence debate since the December mass killing of 20 children and six adults at a school in Newtown, Conn.
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