Police agencies affected by ammunition shortage

By Cheryl Glassford, Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, March 16, 2013

As the national debate over gun control continues, ammunition is flying off the shelves at Bay area stores.

The shortage isn't just affecting civilian gun owners, but it's also having an impact on those who carry weapons to protect and serve.

While some gun owners hit the shooting range for fun, for police - it's about being prepared.

Law enforcement agencies throughout the Bay area are keeping an eye on the ammunition shortage situation.  For some, it's looking like longer waits for orders and less training ammunition at the range.

"In the civilian markets a lot of people are running out, or they're really short," said Lt. Joshua Stone, "and prices are about 20-30 percent higher than they normally would be."

Lt. Stone says it's a matter of supply and demand.  ammunition sales are being fueled by the national debate over gun control in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting.

Even though the Gulfport Police Department purchases their ammunition through law enforcement vendors, some distributors can't keep up.  Several area departments are reporting bullets are on back order, meaning a longer wait to replenish supplies.  Others ordered early, such as Hillsborough Sheriff's Office, anticipating the shortage.

Most other agencies in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties say they have plenty of the type of ammunition they use for the road.  None of the agencies are out of ammunition- Gulport officials say that's something that simply would never happen.

It's the ammunition officers use in training that's tough to find right now.  Lt. Stone says they are running lower than normal on training ammunition and cutting back on how much they use.

"We're trying to keep an eye on it, that way we don't have a critical shortage if we do come up with some training we find that's needed," said Lt. Stone. "As all agencies do, we make do with what we have and try to give the best training as possible for our officers."

Another concern is sky-rocketing costs.  Stone says it's tougher to find a good deal.

Three months ago they purchased 1,000 rounds of practice ammunition for around $600. The same amount is now going for around $1,000.  They're wondering how the situation may affect next year's budget.

"We hope it calms down, that way it will drive the price of ammunition back down," said Lt. Stone.

In the mean time they're still keeping up with scheduled training crucial to their safety, and the community they work to protect.