Wed, 29 Sep 2021

WASHINGTON D.C.: The COVID-19 pandemic and record firearms sales have caused a shortage of ammunition in the United States, which is affecting law enforcement agencies, people seeking personal protection, recreational shooters and hunters.

New gun owners are also being prevented from practicing the skills required to handle their weapons safely.

Manufacturers stated they are producing as much ammunition as they can, but many gun store shelves remain empty and ammunition prices are continuing to rise.

The pandemic, social unrest and a rise in violent crime have encouraged millions of people to buy guns for protection or take up shooting for sport.

Officer Larry Hadfield, spokesperson for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, said his department is also affected by the shortage. "We have made efforts to conserve ammunition whenever possible," he said, as quoted by Reuters.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry trade group, stated more than 50 million people participate in shooting sports in the U.S. and estimates that 20 million guns were sold last year, with 8 million to first-time buyers.

The FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System database also documented an increase in sales. In 2010, 14.4 million background checks were made for gun purchases, but this figure jumped to almost 39.7 million in 2020, and to 22.2 million in June 2021 alone.

The actual number of guns sold could be considerably higher, as multiple firearms can be linked to a single background check. No data for ammunition is available, because sales are not regulated and a license for sale is not required.

The U.S. military is not affected by the shortage because the Army manufactures ammunition for all military branches at six sites around the country, according to Justine Barati of the US Army Joint Munitions Command.

The US shooting team, which won four medals at the Tokyo Olympics, also had access to ammunition due to the commitment of sponsors, but its membership and junior programs struggled, said Matt Suggs, Chief Executive Officer of USA Shooting, as reported by Reuters.

The US Biathlon team, which is training for the 2022 Winter Olympics in February, is being supplied with Finnish-made ammunition by its sponsor, Lapua, but local clubs are facing shortages, noted Max Cobb, President of the US Biathlon Association.

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