Ammo Prices Go Up Amid Rumors of Shortage
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
We can at least give you some optimistic news, if you'd like to call it that, about bullets. Over the past month, newspapers have published stories suggesting that police departments could be sweating bullets over a nationwide ammunition shortage. They often cite the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as the primary cause.
But NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports the situation is not dire and the war effort probably is not the biggest factor.
WENDY KAUFMAN: The U.S. military uses much less handgun and rifle ammunition than police departments and sport shooters. And while the military is using roughly three times more ammo than it did several years ago, it makes most of that itself. The Army does buy some supplies from commercial vendors, but military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are having less of an impact on ammunition supplies than some press reports indicate.
Perhaps a bigger factor is the cost of ammunition. Lawrence Keane of the National Sport Shooting Association, the trade group for ammunitions maker, says with higher commodity prices, the cost of ammunition has gone up 15 or 20 percent in the past year.
Mr. LAWRENCE KEANE (National Sport Shooting Association): The price of ammunition has increased because the price of copper has increased. So what's happened is that people are buying up as much ammunition as they can now in anticipation of further price increases down the road.
KAUFMAN: As police departments and consumers are stocking up, they've created their own vicious cycle - increased demand with no additional supply. The result, says Gene Voegtlin of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, has made it more difficult for police departments to get ammo.
Mr. GENE VOEGTLIN (International Association of Chiefs of Police): I don't think the sky is falling. The chiefs are seeing delays and cost increases where they haven't seen them before, but I don't think we are in a situation where our law enforcement agencies are running out of ammunition.
KAUFMAN: Police leaders say they're working with ammunitions makers and others to try to smooth out the problems.
Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.