A local gun shop is taking a hit from U.S. President Barack Obama’s bid to restrict firearms after America’s worst school massacre.
Gun owners in the U.S. have begun hoarding ammunition in advance of potential new federal firearms laws - and that is starting to create shortages on this side of the border, said Gary Gladwin, co-owner of Wanstalls gun shop in Maple Ridge.
“Talking to our American counterparts down south, we see what they are going through and it’s pretty nasty,” Gladwin said. “People are hedging their bets and buying up what they can.”
Gladwin said that the ammo most affected is the .223 Remington, popular with target practice at shooting ranges. “That’s the real hit,” he said, noting that five-clip magazines “are non-existent right now. That’s one of the first things we saw that dried up.”
He noted he is also seeing more “fear purchases” of .223 rifles such as the Core 15 by enthusiasts concerned they might not be available for sale in future. “It’s a flat-shooting gun. If you are trying to hit targets, you don’t want to deal with a lot of arc.”
Ammo pre-ordered a year in advance is being delivered, but additional orders are affected by the shortage.
“Topping up inventory might be harder,” he said, noting the situation may only worsen later in the year. “It depends on American policy ... but it will probably be a tough year in the firearms industry.”
A total of 26 persons, including 20 children, died in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., last Dec. 14.
The Obama administration has responded with a call to ban so-called assault weapons such as the .223 calibre Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic rifle that 20-year-old Adam Lanza carried that day. He later committed suicide.
Mission Rod and Gun Club, the largest in the Lower Mainland at almost 3,000 members, has increased to three from one the number of beginner “reloading” courses on how to put together your own cartridges and shotguns shells.
Club spokeswoman Deborah Lochrie said reloading is one way to avoid the looming ammo crisis and save some money.
“We definitely have a greater interest,” she said of reloading. “People are talking about it.”
Gladwin said a box of 20 X .223 cartridges retails for about $8 and up; reloading may save the shooter about 10 per cent. “The .223 is cheap to shoot - a couple hundred rounds on the range Sunday afternoon and you don’t want to blow the bank.”
Reloading savings on the more expensive hunting-calibre ammo - such as 20 X .3006 cartridges at $35 - could be 40 to 50 per cent.
A Core 15 rifle sells for about $1,000 and up, Gladwin said.
Wanstalls used to receive about one call a month from Americans interested in buying .223 rifles and ammo on this side of the border, a rate that has increased to one call per day. “We don’t ship to the U.S.” Gladwin noted. “Our business licence and insurance policy won’t allow it.”
- Larry Pynn is with the Vancouver Sun.