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Ammo sales & ‘The Obama Effect’

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POSTED May 9, 2013 12:52 a.m.

Almost four years ago, I wrote a column entitled “The Obama Effect” in which I described how fear and distrust of our then newly elected President created panic among our citizenry and that there were massive shortages of almost every kind of ammunition imaginable.

 In the ensuing weeks, I heard confirmation from readers around the country that the phenomenon wasn’t just confined to California. There were identical ammo shortages in Virginia, Idaho, West Virginia, Nevada, Ohio, and Utah. It seems that fear of government confiscation had created a frenzy of gun and ammo buying nationwide.

Now, four years later, I decided to attempt to replicate my search. I stopped by retail giants like Bass Pro and Wal-Mart and found nearly empty shelves in their ammo departments. I visited my local gun shops like The Barnwood in Ripon, Elite Arms in Manteca, and Tracy Rifle & Pistol in Tracy. The results were identical. Almost no ammo of any popular caliber was available.

In response to the shortages, most retailers have set a limit of just a few boxes per customer so that more people could get at least some ammo to tide them over.  Like almost every other activity the secret to success in shooting is practice, practice, practice.  It is quite typical for an ordinary shooter to go through 50 to 100 rounds in an afternoon trying to get your sights, your guns, and your technique, just right, so that you can put the bullet in the 10 ring when the time comes. Many dedicated shooters will practice several times a month which could easily add up to a couple thousand rounds a year. Mind you that’s just an ordinary shooter practicing, not some crazy gearing up for World War III.

Because of the cost, availability and quality of factory made ammunition; many shooters have chosen to reload their own ammunition. It saves serious money and allows you to load the exact combination of components (bullet, gunpowder, primer and case) that will help you to achieve that near- perfect score on the range, or to nail that coyote that’s been killing your sheep. Guess what? Reloading supplies are in equally short supply. I use different kinds of gunpowder for different applications. There are faster burning powders and slower burning ones and your powder must be carefully chosen to match the weight and design of your bullet. Like factory loaded ammo, most of the more popular powders are gone from the shelves and many sellers of reloading supplies have put limits on how much powder you can buy. The same effect is true for the primers that ignite the powder, universal shortages of the popular sizes, and limits on how many you can buy. Reloaders are affected by the Obama Effect just as much as the shooter who buys his ammo at Wal-Mart.

It seems clear that something must be done to stop the violence that appears to be rampant in our society. It’s equally clear that nutcases like Gerald Loughner should not be able to get their hands on a gun.  In Boston, there were several innocent citizens killed, hundreds maimed, and an entire nation shocked when ordinary kitchen pressure cookers filled with explosives were detonated by Chechen terrorists. Heck, in a Catholic Church in New Mexico recently, a crazy with a knife began stabbing choir members right in the middle of a church service. Thousands died because some fanatics crashed jet planes into buildings filled with innocent people, and over 900 died in Jonestown, Guyana, because some whacko religious fanatic made them drink poisoned Kool-Aid.

I’m not sure what the answer is. The answer does not lie in prohibiting ordinary, law abiding citizens from owning guns, pressure cookers, Kool-Aid or rat poison. Nor does it lie in banning citizens from belonging to unusual or unpopular religious groups.  If we decide that Branch Davidians in Waco or the Peoples Temple congregation in San Francisco can be outlawed. The next “weird” religious group to be prohibited might be Jews, or Mormons, or Methodists. If we give up our liberty for security, I suspect we’ll actually lose both.

Stroll through your local gunshop, or Wal-Mart, or Bass Pro. Whether we like it or not, the Obama Effect is very real. Our nation is at a crossroads and we must do something.

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