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Firearms, ammo fly off shelves
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Two gun shop operators – one in Ripon and the other in Manteca – share the same stories about gun and ammunition shortages.

Paul Mangelos of the Barnwood Arms in downtown Ripon has about half the normal number of guns for sale on his shelves and .22- and 9-milimeter ammunition are out of stock. 

Elite Firearms on South Main Street in Manteca had a similar complaint.

Owner Robert Davis said he is expecting ammunition shipments to come into his store next week.  Davis said the same about his gun sales, noting that when eight to 12 come in with a shipment, they immediately sell 12 to 20 to their customers.

“I really want to thank President Obama for sending us so much business since he went into office,” Davis said, adding that there have been approximately 66 million guns sold nationwide since he became president. 

Mangelos explained much of the current rush on guns and ammunition comes on the heels of the Newtown, Conn. tragedy, a recent rash of home invasions across the valley and two months of consistent talk about new anti-gun legislation and proposals to tax ammo, primers, bullets and powder.

“We had this same thing happen four years ago when Obama was first elected,” he said.  “Anytime a politician gets up and talks about gun laws, it gets us more business.”

Barnwood can’t keep up.

Mangelos said they have only three gun safes in their inventory, and the price of ammunition has gone up some 20 percent with a box of 9 mm going for $19, up some 20 percent. 

“I can’t shop for the best price any longer.  Now I have to take what I can get – what’s available,” Mangelos said.

Cases of .223 rounds came in Friday morning, but the 9- and .40-millimeter rounds have been backordered for three to four weeks.  The rental guns in glass cases just outside the range are limited because of the lack of the matching shells.  Ammunition sales are limited to two boxes per customer.

The indoor gun range draws about 1,500 shooters a month.  Saturdays alone see 100 to 150. The Barnwood Arms’ clientele are made up of 20 to 25 percent women. Eighty percent of them are over 50 years old and first timers, he said.

Mangelos said he had just received a shipment of 40 Beretta hand guns and a dozen similar Kahr  weapons, noting that 90 percent of them will be out the door by the end of next week.  He sold out gun magazine in three days that would usually take three years to sell, he added.  Also selling out was his stock of the AR-15 sport rifles.

“There are 40 guns that go out the door through preorders every day that never hit the shelves,” he said. 

Elite Firearms’ Davis said he receives a shipment of eight to 20 guns every day, with ammunition reserves and 20 AR-15 sporting rifles due in in the next week.

“There are many motivated new buyers,” Davis said.  “It’s a constant battle to stay stocked up.”

The Manteca gun shop owner recalled that two weeks ago on a Friday morning he came to work to find some of his customers had camped out with a line stringing around the building. 

“It was almost like a Black Friday,” he said.