Will the U.S. soon face a critical situation in which the federal government– primarily the Department of Homeland Security – possesses an ammunition surplus while local and state authorities face ammunition shortages and backlogs in purchasing more rounds?
Current trends could find the federal government with a strong ammunition advantage over local police and sheriff departments.
Earlier this week, a Georgia TV station reported that police officers training at the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office Gun Range were holding back on some live-range ammunition training due to shortage concerns.
Range Master Sgt. Ted Glisson told WSAV-TV in Savannah, “What we’ve incorporated is we’re doing more dry firing practice and this basically gets some people better suited to do what they need to when they come out here on the range.”
Dry firing is pulling the trigger but not firing a bullet.
Glisson said that while his unit currently had enough ammunition, he was concerned because “one of our suppliers was running short on what they had because there’s a mass – everybody’s trying to get a lot of ammunition and things like that.”
Similar reports are cropping up nationwide amid fears of a federal clampdown as the Obama administration continues to push gun legislation in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.
Brownells, the largest supplier of firearm accessories in the world, reported it had sold several years’ worth of ammunition in just a matter of hours.
The company released a statement apologizing for the delay in fulfilling orders, explaining the it had experienced “unprecedented” demand for AR-15 ammunition magazines since earlier in the week.
CNS News reported police departments nationwide are experiencing ammunition shortages, referring to the online law enforcement website, PoliceOne.com
Sgt. Chris Forrester of the Greer Police Department in South Carolina told local TV-news channel WSPA: “It’s never easy to get ammo, but since the tragedy in Connecticut, it’s become even more difficult.”
Forrester explained the problem ordering ammunition began about a month ago.
“You’ll call and they say ‘sorry we’re out,’ or ‘it’s on back order,’” he said.
Chief Terry Sult of the Sandy Springs Police Department said: “It affects our ability to be prepared. It affects the potential safety of the officers, because they’re not as proficient as they should be.”
While local authorities scramble to fulfill future ammunition needs by turning to the same suppliers from which private gun owners purchase their rounds, the Department of Homeland Security reportedly maintains a large stock of ammunition.
Last March, DHS reportedly ordered 450 million rounds of .40 caliber ammunition, including hollow point bullets, from defense contractor ATK to be delivered over five years.
Hollow-point tip bullets are rarely used in training exercises. They are among the deadliest bullets, with the ability to pass through barriers and expand for a bigger impact without the rest of the bullet warping.
In April, Business Insider reported on an additional DHS request for 750 million more rounds for a total of at least 1.2 billion bullets. The 750 million is more than 10 times what U.S. troops used in a full year of Iraqi combat.
It was not immediately clear how many bullets were delivered to DHS.
In 2009, manufacturer Winchester posted an award to its site affirming it will deliver 200 million rounds to DHS over five years, serving as yet another order on top of others that may have already been partially fulfilled, as Business Insider noted.
DHS runs a large weapons training program at its Firearms Division replete with indoor and outdoor firing ranges, ammunition and weapons storage. Courses include a rifle-training program, precision rifle observer training program, reactive shooting instructor training program, submachine gun instructor training program and a survival shooting training program.
“That doesn’t make the most recent batch of 200,000 rounds seem out of line, but those billion or so rounds, seem like they could be better accounted [for],” commented Robert Johnson at Business Insider earlier this month.
With additional research by Joshua Klein