Ammo orders miss target, but cops still armed

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Civilian gun enthusiasts are not the only ones having trouble finding ammunition -- some police agencies report months-long delays in rearming officers.

National media reported this week that Walmart was limiting customers to three boxes of ammunition per day so the world's largest gun seller does not run out of bullets. But some police agencies are also having trouble resupplying.

Early order

The Shelbyville Police Department recently placed an order for ammo, earlier than it normally would have because of supply problems, said training officer Lt. Trey Clanton. The department normally waits a month to receive ammo, he said, but he expects the current order to take three months to arrive.

"It put us a little bit behind," Clanton said. "Law enforcement and the military are first on the list (with suppliers) for orders, then the public. But that's not to say it's not coming."

He has not had to order ammo for the department's AR15s yet, but expects the ammo will be difficult to buy. It helps that the department purchases through a state contract for law enforcement agencies, which locks in the price for a year, he said.

Six-month wait

The Tennessee Highway Patrol has been waiting since August to receive its yearly order of ammunition, said public information officer Dalya J. Qualls. The department does not know the reason for the delay.

"You would need to contact the manufacturers to determine the reason for the delay," Qualls said. "I cannot confirm if it's due to a shortage in supplies. However, I can tell you, that the delay has not affected THP commissioned personnel."

Buying time

The Bedford County Sheriff's Department last year bought a large order of ammunition but has not looked at placing an order yet this year, said Chief Deputy David Williams Jr.

"I hope it doesn't affect us," he said. "We usually do one large order ... in March."

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has not placed an order for some time, said public information officer Kristin Helm. The bureau is preparing to place another order, which will be on a new state contract.

Yearly training

County officers train once per year and use most of their practice rounds then, Williams said. Each of the 35 officers who carry guns shoots about 150 rounds.

Shelbyville's 41 officers normally shoot about 12,000 rounds during their annual qualification training, Clanton said.

Student shortages

Clanton teaches regular civilian safety training classes in addition to training the city's officers. His students are talking about how hard it is to find ammo because of panic buying over worries about gun and ammo control.

He compares the current situation to the time after the Brady Bill was passed in 1993, when prices rose because people snatched up guns and ammo.

"People are afraid they're not going to make it (ammo) anymore," Clanton said. "I don't foresee that happening. It's supply and demand, like gas. It's a higher price because people are buying more of it."