By Alex Lippa
---- — Since the beginning of this month, Al Bacon, owner of Al’s Gun and Reel in Derry, has had to do something he’s never done before — limit the amount of ammunition his customers can buy.
“There’s just a tremendous shortage of ammunition,” Bacon said. “In the 46 years I’ve been in this business, it’s never been like this.”
Since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December, gun shop owners have seen sales soar as they ready for possible changes in gun control legislation. As a result, ammunition manufacturers are having trouble keeping up with the demand.
“You just can’t buy it anywhere right now,” said Don Hathaway, a member of the Plaistow Fish and Game Club. “It’s extremely frustrating. Most everyone is trying to save up their ammo in case it gets worse.”
Hathaway said he has noticed prices going up as the supply dwindles. He said ammunition price hikes between 20 and 40 percent. Sometimes, he said, he just can't buy what he wants.
“At Wal-Mart in Plaistow, the shelves are empty,” he said. “I talk to the manager over there, and they have no idea when they’ll get more in.”
Hathaway and other members of the Fish and Game Club try to help each other out.
“If most of the guys around here see something in stock, they’ll try to buy some for others as well,” he said.
But that has caused dealers who do have ammunition to prevent buying in bulk. At Al’s Gun and Reel, .22-caliber and 9 mm ammunition is limited to 100 rounds per purchase.
“People have started stockpiling in anticipation of bad things happening,” Bacon said. “It’s like when a big storm is coming and everyone goes to Market Basket to get water to prepare for it.”
Bob Williams, owner of Affordable Firearms in Pelham, has noticed the same trend.
“People are worried that there is going to be some crazy law,” he said. “If someone comes in and wants a whole case of something, we just can’t give it to them. We might get one whole case for a week.”
Bacon said he thought the lack of materials also contributed to the shortage.
“We use precious metals,” Bacon said. “A lot of copper, lead and brass are not in stock. There’s a higher demand than supply on raw materials.”
But the shortage may be turning around.
Ralph Demicco, vice president of the Gun Owners of New Hampshire, has noticed an uptick in the last week.
“I think it’s easing up,” Demicco said. “The Senate not voting in the legislation (recently) put a lot more people at ease I feel.”
Bacon said he doesn’t think there will be an immediate turnaround, but is confident it will happen eventually.
“I think things will come back, but it’s going to take a while,” Bacon said. “The industry has just taken quite a hit, these limits could last another three or four months.”