JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — 2020 was a big year for gun shops across the nation.
Nearly 5 million Americans bought a firearm for the first time in 2020, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Three weeks into the new year, there are no signs of stopping — and some Jacksonville gun owners have noticed it’s harder to get their hands on ammunition.
According to a survey taken by NSSF, at various gun stores, 40% of sales in 2020 were to people who have never previously owned a gun.
Action News Jax’s Courtney Cole spoke to management at Greenacres Sporting Goods to talk about what’s leading to the ammo shortage.
“Mid-march [of 2020] is when things really started to dry up,” said Zaideh Farhat, the retail sales manager at Greenacres Sporting Goods.
“It’s tough! It’s definitely scarce,” said Wayne Griffis, a gun owner.
Griffis told Cole you have to plan ahead these days if you plan on getting your hands on ammunition.
“You have to get up early — make sure you hit the stores. You have to know when they’re getting new shipments in,” Griffis said.
Farhat, better known to regulars and staff members as “Z,” said it’s a real struggle for them to purchase ammo for their customers.
“We’ve been having to go out through other channels and basically bid on it. And buy it from different sources, buy it from private market, pay whatever the market is for it — plus shipping and to get it transferred here,” Farhat said.
They now have to pay three to four times the normal price for ammo and for some calibers.
“The store has been here for 50 years. I’ve been here over 20 years full time, and I’ve never seen it like this,” Farhat told Action News Jax.
When Cole asked Griffis how much more money he’s had to spend on ammo, he said:
“Well, normally, let’s say before the shortage, you can get 9 mm range ammo for $17 a box. Now it’s going upwards of $70 a box. It’s absurd!”
Due to the shortage, Farhat told Cole ammo is more expensive.
“The most popular is pistol ammo, like 9mm and .380. We do have it in stock, but that’s what we’ve been having to pay the most for,” Farhat said.
At Greenacres Sporting Goods, it’s now taking boxes of ammo for certain calibers and breaking them down into smaller quantities to make it more affordable for customers.
The retail manager told Cole manufacturers shutting down during the pandemic has led to a backup on orders.
“Also, the components to make the ammo — a lot of that raw material comes from overseas,” Farhat said.
He told Action News Jax he hopes to see some relief once the COVID-19 pandemic conditions improve and things begin to fully reopen.
Griffis told Cole he isn’t surprised by what happened and doesn’t think it’ll change any time soon.
“It happens every four years. Every election cycle,” he said.
The NSSF also cites concerns about law enforcement response times during the pandemic, the election cycle, the anticipation of strict gun control implementation by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and calls to defund the police as factors contributing to the increase in firearm purchases in 2020.