The Unseen Effects of the Ammo Shortage

Frederic Bastiat’s famous essay, That Which Is Seen and That, Which is Not Seen, inspired Henry Hazlitt to write Economics in One Lesson, where he applied the lesson  of a careless boy breaking a window, and the net loss that resulted from it, to economic issues beyond the initial scope.  In the same way that Hazlitt applied the aforementioned  lesson to those issues, I will apply it to a market distortion present in today’s world: the shortage of ammunition created by an overzealous Department of Homeland Security.

I do not believe that the Department of Homeland Security has any intention of using the ammunition they bought in a massacre.  Taking such a rash action would have disastrous consequences and swell the ranks of citizens seeking to defend themselves and their property.  That the DHS has depleted the amount of ammunition that civilians have at their disposal is malicious enough of an action.

What is seen is that the DHS has more ammunition than they need – and that factories are working at capacity to churn it out – all the while prices of components have continued to increase as a result of civilian, military, and law enforcement demands.

What is not seen and rarely considered – except by those who are shooters – is that shooting is a perishable skill. While going to the range not only offers stress relief and a good time with friends, it’s also necessary to make sure that I can place my rounds where they need to be. In that I own firearms not only for hunting but also for self-defense, not being able to place rounds where they need to be can be a dangerous proposition to innocent bystanders (if in public) or family members (if in my home). This is especially the case with new gun owners. While I have owned guns for multiple years, I only recently purchased a handgun and have only put 150 rounds through it, due to the shortage that in part was caused by the DHS’s purchase. While I feel comfortable with it, I am not yet proficient.

I am not alone in my story. The same situation is playing out with hundreds of thousands of other new handgun owners who may be permit holders or are seriously considering applying for one to defend themselves in public. What is not seen is that we are all anxious to carry for our self-preservation and, if need be, for the preservation of the lives of others – as has been done in many cases unreported by the national media. Concealed carry of firearms has been shown to deter crime. In a sense, the public depends on those who carry. Furthermore, the public depends on those who carry to be judicious in their marksmanship, something that they cannot do unless they are skilled in the use of those firearms.

The unseen in this situation will be seen. By then, it will be too late and the media will run with it like they did with Newtown. There will be new calls for legislation on the state and Federal level to ban the carry of firearms in public, but our government has a long history of unintended consequences that they later seek to “solve”.

My advice to new gun owners at this point in time is to buy ammunition when you can find it and to do dry fire practice (preferably with Snap Caps). Familiarize yourself with the nuances of the firearm and how it feels in your hand. Practice drawing it. In your home, have it where you can access it immediately, and have clear shooting lanes based on where the rooms of your family members are. While there may be an artificial shortage of ammunition, it can’t stop you from doing basic drills without having to shoot. Do these things and the unseen may remain unseen.

4 thoughts on “The Unseen Effects of the Ammo Shortage

  1. “I only recently purchased a handgun and have only put 150 rounds through it, due to the shortage that in part was caused by the DHS’s purchase.”

    I dont know just how much of an influence the DHS purchase has really had. Got a communication from the NRA the other day that put it into perspective and as large as the contract was, it was spread out over years, and the DHS may not actually end up with that many rounds at the end.

    We’ve seen these before (but maybe not quite so bad). A couple years ago I had a hard time buying 9mm but then it eased back up until now. What I think is really driving the shortage is the number of private people like ourselves buying whatever they can in certain calibers. Want to be able to buy plenty of ammo? Get a gun chambered in 10mm (and enjoy the recoil! 🙂 ).

    Its not only ammo per se. Reloading supplies can be hard to get too. Try to buy popular 9mm and .357 bullets online. Try to buy Bullseye powder for reloading. Even try to buy a Lee mould to make your own bullets. A lot of online companies will have “Out of Stock, No Backorder) on a lot of these in their online catalogs.

    Fortunately the other day I scored pretty good. Got the limit (3 boxes) of 9mm at one store, and 1000 small pistol primers and 250 .357 bullets at another. Handloaded 100 rounds of 38 Special for my snubbie.

    Barring any unforeseen events, I expect supplies to be more normal by 2014.


    • Well yea, and the price of metals is skyrocketing. Unfortunately, I don’t reload. If I shot a lot more, I might consider it. Also, I don’t have a replacement barrel for my Glock 23 and I don’t want a ka-boom. I need to buy one and then I’ll be good to shoot reloads out of it.

  2. I really think this whole thing is starting to subside quite a bit. If you are around a computer during the day, you can set a tone alert on for your chosen round and can get something at pre-hysteria prices. I’ve had a lot more luck with revolver calibers and .40 S&W than most are having with 9mm.

    I really think this stuff will continue to calm down, ammo will begin to appear on shelves on a more regular basis… etc.

    Good luck!

    • Most of my LGS don’t have .40 SW. I had to drive a pretty long distance (subjectively) to find it. Then again, I live in a population center. I can’t wait to buy TulAmmo at Wal-Mart for $14.47 a box of 50, though. That was awesome and the stuff shot pretty well out of my Glock 23, to boot. I just wanna see plentiful .40 SW again, both FMJ and JHP. That, and I need to apply for my Indiana CC for sure!

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